- Prime cut S3 8P Show-stopper revealed. When Matt Vanstone isn’t preparing the Southwest’s finest fillet steaks, he’s working on his stunning S3…. Words Davy Lewis Photography AJ Walker.
The second generation Audi S3 is a cracking little car. Launched in 2007, it packs a potent 2.0 TFSI engine, quattro drive and the kind of neatly understated looks that set it apart as a premium hatch back. Audi sold bucket loads of them and they’ve become one of the most frequently tuned of all the S models. So when Matt Vanstone was after a new car, he had his sights set on an S3. “I’d been into Fords before,” he explains, “but I wanted something I could modify in a Dub style.”
After looking at a couple of cars, he found an immaculate S3 in Sprint blue, which he fell in love with. “It was only down the road from me and although it wasn’t as highly spec’d as the others I’d seen, I didn’t mind as I planned to upgrade it.”
Having thrown £14k at the salesman, Matt proceeded to enjoy his new toy. “I’d spent all my cash, so it was standard for about a year,” he says. But the plan right from the off was to create something show worthy – just as soon as he’d saved up the money. Then disaster struck...
“It was during the floods of 2014; I was driving home and hit standing water.” The S3 aquaplaned into a ditch and the damage was significant. “My heart sank, I thought it was a write-off – but I just got away with it,” recalls Matt.
That said, there was a big bill for replacement parts, including a new front end, wings and other bits, which all told added up to about four-grand – which wiped out the tuning budget. However, there was some good news…
“I came into a little bit of money and while the car was in the bodyshop I decided to do a few bits to it.” This included fitting the latest (at the time) Air Lift Performance kit, some Forge Motorsport goodies and new wheels. With the S3 making good progress, Matt went along to Ultimate Dubs, where he was blown away by the standard of some of the cars. “I met Jules Loose and he invited me to join Dubfiction, which is where I got a lot of help and inspiration for the car.”
At this point, there weren’t any RS-style honeycomb grilles available off-the-shelf, but Matt had his heart set on one. So, he set about making his own. “I ordered a brand new RS6 grille from Audi and my mate cut out the honeycomb section and adapted it to fit the S3’s OEM grille. It involved a lot of work and expense, but looks fantastic, especially with the satin silver surround, which he’d seen on an RS4. Next came new wheels.
“Jules offered me a set of RAD48s, but they weren’t quite “wow” enough for me, so I sent them off to be ceramic-polished. Sounds simple enough, until Matt explains this involved shipping them off to Belgium for the work to be carried out, at a cost of about £500. Now that’s commitment.
With the exterior looking good, Matt turned his attention to the inside.
“I knew I had to really go for it to make the car stand out at shows, so I bought a full S5 interior,” he says. Unfortunately, the seats were in bad shape, with dodgy electrics and bent sub frames. “They needed about £900 spending on them and I felt like giving up,” he admits. But it’s when you’re at your lowest point that your mates really help and Jules, plus girlfriend Terri told him to carry on – setting a deadline of the next Ultimate Dubs show to get the car ready. “That left us just three weeks,” laughs Matt.
“I managed to get hold of some genuine Bentley leather for the seats – I hadn’t even seen the colour, apart from a picture,” he says. When he visited the trimmer to see the progress, there was another heart-in-mouth moment: “I didn’t like the colour,” laughs Matt. But girlfriend, Terri, said it would be okay and told him to let the trimmer get on with it. “She even bought me a flat-bottom steering wheel, which spurred me on.” The trimmer had some work to do though – the stitch pattern alone took over a week to complete. Finally, with the show just hours away, having pulled another allnighter, Matt and his crew made it to the show, even having to stop en route to pick up the parcel shelf.
But you know what – it was all worth it. The S3 was very well received with plenty of nice comments about the interior. With a renewed enthusiasm for the 8P, Matt began planning his next show – Early Edition. Then, disaster struck for a second time: “An inlet cam snapped and I ended up having to get an engine rebuild.” This took another chunk out of the tuning budget, but as Matt says, ‘You can just give up, or accept that life gives you hurdles like this and get on with it.” Wise words indeed.
The engine itself is now in rude health and although not currently running any performance software, the Cobra Sport exhaust has transformed the S3’s character. The 3in turbo-back system, with sports cat, is much freer flowing and delivers a nicely rorty sound, without any annoying drone. There’s also a Forge twintercooler and inlet, which means this S3 is ready to have its potential unleashed with a remap.
At the time of writing, Matt is recovering after a flat-out Christmas rush preparing turkeys for his customers, but in between wielding his cleaver, he’s been planning his next upgrades. “I’m fitting some new wheels, plus some carbon bits and maybe big brakes for next season,” he says. “I also want to get the engine sorted, so I’ll be giving the guys at MRC Tuning a call at some point.” There’s lots more to come from this S3 – look out for it at this year’s shows.
SPECIFICATION #2017-Audi-S3-8P / #Audi-S3-8P / #Audi-S3 / #Audi-A3-8P / #Audi-A3 / #Air-Lift / #RAD48-DR1 / #RAD48 / #Audi-8P / #Audi /
Engine 2.0 #TFSI , #Forge twin take induction kit with carbon fibre air filter covers, Forge chrome recirulating value, #Forge-twintercooler , Forge blue silicone hose kit, Forge chrome charcoal canister cover, Forge chrome oil water and coolant caps, custom made engine cover using old air box and dipped in carbon fibre affect and colour coded pipe work in sprint blue, turbo back sport cat exhaust system by Cobra Sport all in 3in pipework
Transmission 6-speed manual, Forge adjustable quick shifter
Suspension Full #Air-Lift-Performance slam struts with 3/8 airlines and two #Vair comps and 4-gallon skinned tank with #V2-Auto #AutoPilot-V2 management
Wheels #RAD48-DR1s 8.5x19in all round et45 fully ceramic polished by Felgenwerkes/puc polished in Nanking tyres NS2s 215/35x19
Interior 2011 flat bottom steering wheel with carbon fibre air bag cover, Audi S5 front seats with custom diamond stitch in centres and retrimmed in Bentley nappa leather with a blue stitch, carbon fibre control panel and seat backs and grab handle, rear seats, arm rest, hand brake, gear gaiter, parcel shelf, glove box, under steering wheel and door card inserts all trimmed to match
Exterior 2011 rear lights, custom made, front grille using RS6 and standard one moulded together to make one grille then painted gloss black centre and satin silver ends, carbon fibre b pillars, Forge chrome petrol cap
Contacts and thanks Stefan May at Tiki Custom, Kris Butler at Forge Motorsport, Jules and Mario at RAD48 wheels, James batty at Autofinesse, Colin Haden at D Hayden Upholstery, Matt at System Clenz, Indy at Felgenwerkes/Stefan puc polished, Nick Cockman at Cobra Sport exhausts, the Mrs, Terri for putting up with my temper tantrums, the whole Dubfiction crew, Adam Ford for many late nights working on it before shows.
“I knew I had to really go for it to make the car stand out...”
Essentials: air and detailing kit.
Bentley leather was used for the interior.
Flat-bottom wheel with carbon centre.
Nicely detailed bay, with big power to come.
Cobra exhaust looks and sounds ace.
Dubfiction 9 July 2017
If you haven’t heard about Dubfiction, it’s a cracking show with a very welcoming attitude. Based in Derbyshire’s Peak District at one of the UK’s most picturesque locations, it offers plenty of space to park up, a show and shine, trade, music and camping. The new date for 2017 is 9 July, so make sure you get it in your diary and check out Dubfiction on Facebook. Dubfiction 2017 – 10am - 4pm, The Bull I’ th’ thorn Inn, Ashbourne Road, Hurdlow SK17 9QQ.