There's a natural evolution in car buying. When you're young, you buy a cheap domestic or Japanese import and load it up with even cheaper performance parts. Then you mature. You realize you want something more sophisticated with refined luxury, styling and performance. Something that can only be found in Europe.
Florida native Juan Nunez is no different. He learned to drive, obtained his license and headed straight for the land of cheap Japanese imports. During his formative years, a Mitsubishi 3000GT, Nissan 300ZX and a Mitsubishi Eclipse graced his garage. But you won't find them there anymore. "I drove an older BMW and realized European cars were built better and drive better," he said. "It's a totally different market." And with this realization, Nunez took his first evolutionary steps.
With the entire European market before him, he selected a Brilliant White 2002 Audi TT. It was a decision three years in the making. Although the car had tickled his fancy during its U.S. launch in 1999, it took lots of overtime, savings and family support before he could call the Audi key fob his own. He chose the platform because, in his words, "BMW and Mercedes were already played out. No one had done a complete package Audi." For Nunez, the catch was punching up the power without distorting the TT's unique lines and he found himself in uncharted territory. Few TT owners had modified their engines with bigger turbos, and even fewer had thought to transform the entire car. Nunez sought to pave the way.
He began in the engine bay. With 180 bhp, the stock 1.8T boasts modest power figures, but Nunez wanted to wring out every ounce available. So the techs at Precision Tune added a Stage 3 APR turbo kit, which uses the Garrett GT-series ball-bearing turbo as its heart. On the exhaust side, gases are routed through APR's custom exhaust manifold, universal high-flow cat and Milltek 2.5-inch exhaust. A Forge Motorsports diverter valve replaces the stock unit to better handle turbo backpressure. On the compressor side, Forge Motorsports front-mount intercooler cools the air charge. If you understood little of the above paragraph, suffice it to say this TT is fast. Juan claims it makes power in excess of 300 bhp. Although he can now beat most takers off the line--the companion TT pictured here included--the man's thirst is insatiable. APR's Stage 3+ kit is in the works and future upgrades are inevitable.
With this much power under the hood, Nunez had to find a way to control it. He opted for KW Variant I coilovers to firm up handling and a set of Neuspeed front and rear adjustable anti-roll bars, sized 22mm in front and 25 mm in back, to help eliminate excess body roll. With acceleration and handling well under control, Nunez focused on stopping. His solution was a StopTech four-pot big brake kit clamping down on 14-inch rotors in front, and ECS Tuning cross-drilled and slotted rotors out back. A set iForged three-piece wheels, sized 8.5x19 inches in the front and 9.5x19 in the rear, round out the wheel wells and add a touch of aggression.
To compliment the aggressive performance modifications, Nunez chose to massage the TT's already unique exterior. Most impressive is his LSD Lambo-style scissor door conversion. TT doors are notoriously long and heavy and make it difficult to maneuver out of the car when parked in tighter spots. Practical considerations aside, nothing turns heads better than opening your doors skyward. The Lambo-equipped crowd is quite exclusive, as Nunez claims to be the first TT owner in North America and the second in the world to perform this minor surgery. The bodylines were subtly enhanced with a carbon-fiber rear wing, a new front lip and new grille. The owner feels his major accomplishment was adding to the car's lines rather than distracting from them. "I'm most proud of how stock the car looks. I didn't want to go too far for fear of ending up with a vehicle no longer worthy of the Audi badge."
Looking at the clean exterior and efficient interior, it's obvious Nunez didn't desecrate the marque. The few interior upgrades were practical and modest. The Auto Meter oil pressure and EGT gauges and the AWE boost gauge allow him to monitor the turbo system, and no interior would be complete without an upgraded sound system. Out went the entire stock system, in a tangled ball of wires and fuses. In its stead there's now an Alpine DVD and MP3 player, which is juiced by two JL Audio amplifiers. When the AM/FM bands get tiresome on long road trips, Nunez can switch to XM satellite radio. Tunes are broadcast via MB Quart fronts and crossovers, while the thump is supplied by an OZ Audio sub. It's a system to impress any audiophile.
After creating the complete package TT, Nunez had only three things left to do: Get it insured, join a car club and hit the show circuit. With nearly $30,000 worth of parts upgrades, insurance protection was vital. Thankfully, Nunez's company of choice, Hagerty Insurance, specializes in protecting heavily modified show vehicles. To tackle his second task, Nunez joined forces with the Florida chapter of Europrojektz. After racking up an attic full of first-place trophies, he met Ryan Meloy, the owner of the red TT spied here.
While Nunez chose to actively upgrade his engine, Meloy chose to focus on aesthetics. Externally, a carbon lip and front grille provide a lowered look and added aggression. Smoked turn signals and side markers contrast with the ferocious red paint. To match this dynamic hue, Meloy decided subtle performance enhancers became necessary. He had a custom 3-inch downpipe and exhaust installed to help the turbo breathe, while a Forge front-mount intercooler and Samco hoses facilitate cooling and boost power. The simplicity found on the exterior and under the hood also spills into the interior, where practicality reigns. The only upgrades are Auto Meter boost and EGT gauges placed in a dual gauge pod.
What's next for thE Europrojektz duo? Despite the fact that they've spent nearly two and a half years transforming his stock TT into a supreme dream, we don't get the feeling either plan on stopping anytime soon. Evolution will decide the next iteration of these TTs.