When I was seven a photo of one of my creations was in Lego magazine, I was always building stuff," said Robert Haleluk. "That's what brought me into the custom world," citing the standard progression, Legos to go-karts to cars to owning a shop specializing in high-end car audio/video/computer installations, DTC Design. Haleluk still loves the creative process, he just plays with a different box of toys these days. Case in point, his 2004 Audi A4.
Haleluk also loves the car show scene and admits he wants the Dolphin Gray Ultrasport to turn a few heads. But this is his daily driver, it's no trailer queen. A set of H&R Street Performance coilovers dropped the body almost two inches, tightly wrapping it around a set of staggered 19-inch Sevas S-Star wheels. Yokohama AVS Sports sized 235/35-19 were mounted on the 8.5-inch fronts while 265/30-19 cover the 9.5-inch rears. A 21mm Neuspeed rear sway bar and polished control arms (to please the show judges) round out the suspension mods.
The changes leave the clearcoated Kerscher carbon-fiber splitter riding dangerously close to the pavement, but visually it ties in nicely with the broad swath of carbon fiber showing through the clearcoat of the custom painted AWE Tuning hood. HID Visual Creations supplied the ION-Yellow HID foglights, and blacked-out S4 E-code lenses with 6000K Xenon replacement bulbs took the place of the stock headlights. Haleluk stripped the stock badges from the rear deck, replacing them with a Porsche Turbo badge. Kamei eyelids give the A4 a slightly--and with just 136 hp reaching the four wheels in stock trim, some might say appropriately--sleepy look.
Haleluk turned to AWE Tuning for help waking up the slumbering performance potential of the 1.8T. A GIAC chip upped the ante to 156 whp, better but still lacking. So AWE installed its first production GT28R Stage 1 power system in Haleluk's pride and joy. The front-mount intercooler, with its polished end tanks (those show judges again), is prominently displayed while the rest of the system, harder to see, replaced the stock turbo system in its entirety. The heart of the kit replaces the stock cat and KO3 Sport turbo combo with a Garrett GT28R dual ball bearing turbo and a matching larger-diameter metal-core cat. Also included are 530cc/min Siemens Deka injectors, proprietary GIAC software, and a full complement of CNC machined adaptors, gaskets, and hardware. When mated with a full AWE Tuning cat-back exhaust, the in-house awd Mustang dyno read a more appropriate 235 hp at the wheels, a touch over 300 bhp at the crank.
More power is possible, and the AWE engineers are already noodling around with bigger turbos and revised exhaust manifolds for stages 2 and 3, but the GT28R reaches full boost (1.4 bar) at just 3500 rpm, only 500 rpm later than the smaller stock KO3, giving excellent response without the excessive lag of bigger units. And lest the judges peek under the hood, the engine cover and caps have been color-matched Dolphin Gray.
Inside, the seats' center sections and headrests were reupholstered in gray Alcantara. Haleluk painted all the plastic interior trim Dolphin Gray, contrasting the color with a black Alcantara headliner. He installed an AWE boost gauge in the center vent, AWE sport pedal covers, and a B&M short-shifter, then coolly set to work doing what DTC does best, ICE (i.e., in-car-entertainment).
After fitting Infinity Kappa Perfect 5.1 component speakers in the doors, Haleluk moved to the trunk, designing and laying up a custom fiberglass enclosure to house a pair of 12-inch Infinity Kappa Perfect M3D subwoofers. Two Pioneer amps are tucked out of sight underneath, 800 watts for the subs and 400 watts for the interior components. Before recarpeting the trunk, he also made room in the floor for a full-size 19-inch spare under a cutout Audi logo. Finally he molded a 10.4-inch Xenarc VGA touchscreen monitor into the trunk lid.
Haleluk pulled the stock stereo head unit and used the faceplate as a pattern to mold a perfectly stock-looking frame and seamlessly integrated second touch screen, this one a 7-inch Xenarc, in the center console. Why touchscreens? To control the on-board computer, of course. The computer's 250-gig hard drive holds more than 100 movies, 100-plus Family Guy episodes, and more than 200 episodes of The Simpsons, not to mention somewhere around 7,000 MP3 files (the last 1,500 still need to be sorted). The two 7-inch Xenarc screens in the front seat headrests are only monitors, as experience has shown there should be no "messing around with the computer from the back seat."
Tired of explaining that the carefully hidden computer systems in his previous cars weren't just DVD players, Haleluk turned the glovebox into the computer's case. Open it, and every component, including the MII 12K motherboard and power supply, lie naked for the world to see. A mini-keyboard is attached to the glovebox door with a retractable mini-mouse beside it. A Clarion touchscreen head unit provides sonic control of the computer's 5.1 surround sound low-level audio outputs (as well radio and CD options). And yes, Haleluk can pull into Starbucks and do a little web surfing while sipping a latte thanks to a wireless Internet card.
Running WinXP Media Center OS, the computer saves to RAM and "pauses" when the key is removed, picking up exactly where it left off when the car is restarted. GIAC Flashloader software allows the computer to talk to the engine management system so Haleluk can switch between pump gas, race gas, valet and other tuning programs with a touch of his screen. Keeping tabs on any the factory on-board electronics is made even easier and safer by Ross-Tech's VagCom software. Any vehicle parameter monitored by the ECU can be shown in real time on the computer screens through a graphical interface.
"I like to watch people's faces, to see the smiles," said Haleluk. "The best reaction is when a guy looks in the car, calls five of his friends over and they all have big grins on their faces. It's a relief, they're looking at my car and smiling, I did the right thing. That's what I get a kick out of, that's why I'm in the industry. It's so cool, just like when I was seven building those Legos, I still get to have fun building things."
Longitudinal front engine,all-wheel drive
1.8-liter inline four, dualoverhead cams, four valvesper cylinder, turbochargedand intercooled
Mods: AWE GT28R stage 1 turbo kit, GIAC software, Siemens Deka injectors,front-mount intercooler, AWE catalytic converter and exhaust
Mods: H&R coilovers, Neuspeed anti-roll barand polished control arms (r)
Wheels and Tires
Sevas S-Star, 8.5x19 (f)
Yokohama AVS Sport,
Kerscher carbon-fiber splitter, AWE carbon-fiber hood, HID Visual Creations ION-Yellow foglamps, Kamei eyelids
Custom Alcantara upholstery, AWE pedal covers and boost gauge, B&M short shifter, three Xenarc 7-inch LCDs, Infinity Kappa Perfect 5.1 speakers, dual Pioneer amplifiers, trunk-mounted Xenarc 10.4-inch LCD, glovebox-mounted on-board computer