The big V8 residing within the nose of the new, 2004 Audi S4 produces awesome sensations: 334 bhp will do that. Powerful and refined, the S4 also sports an exhaust note that's never before been heard from an Audi, and that reportedly became a source of contention among Audi's top brass. Word has it the S4's engineers anticipated that the exhaust's extremely aggressive sound would upset conservative senior management, who would move to quiet the S4 before it was signed off for production. So instead of previewing the S4 as they envisioned it, the designers purposely gave it an exceptionally loud voice.
"Great car, but let's make it a tad less randy sounding," said management (or words to that effect).
The engineers countered with the exhaust they originally built. It was a typical "offer-counteroffer" corporate negotiation but showed some pretty clever thinking from engineering. Still, one has to wonder how the much anticipated RS4 will sound with its twin turbos. Turbos offer some degree of sound abatement, and we'd hate to see its growl subdued in any way.
While the instantaneous gratification of the new S4's big motor is obvious, the ballistic characteristics of a turbocharged engine are part of what made the first S4 so good. I'm not yet ready to cast it aside for something new, and neither are people like Chris Clark, as demonstrated by his 2002 S4.
That the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 is a tuneable chunk of metal has already been well documented. Basic mods such as slightly larger turbos, a better exhaust, a free-flow intake system and more boost all conspire to wring considerably more power from the mill. Clark, however, followed a decidedly different path by hooking up with Don Istook, a laid-back Texan with extensive motorsport experience. Istook has been involved in racing since 1971, winning eight regional and national SCCA amateur titles in his division. In 1984, he began to compete professionally in IMSA, running in numerous 24-, 12-, 6- and 3-hour races, including the 24 Hours of Daytona, Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Istook has maintained numerous Porsches, including 911s, 924s, (SSA and DP), 944s and a Carrera GTR. He has also run Toyota Supra Turbos, Audi Quattros, Pontiacs, Firebirds and Camaros. Recently Istook and Bob Aines formed the Istook/Aines Motorsport Group to compete in the Speedvision World Challenge series and the Motorola Cup, campaigning an S4.
Which brings us to the Audi on these pages.
Clark has no intention of racing his car, but he did want it to be a fast and reliable daily driver. Typically you visit a race shop to go fast-the reliable part (and a huge chunk of dough) leaves after winning the first race.
"Originally I intended to go with the AWE Stage III program," recalled Clark. "Don was pretty confident the package would deliver what I was looking for, and he was all set to do the installation."
As fate would have it, a pair of new race-prepped Audi 2.7t motors showed up on Istook's doorstep. Don thought one of them might make a better candidate for the job. Though largely stock, one of the engines had been enlarged to 2.8 liters and fitted with slightly larger Audi Motorsport pistons. Clark took a look at the engine and pointed to his Audi.
"Let's put that in there," he said.