As someone who has owned and modified two B7s over the last 8 years, I’ve seen a lot of builds come and go, and have even called a few of them my favorites; however, this one takes the throne as the best and most extensive build I’ve ever seen. The car started life as 2008 S4 Avant with a tiptronic transmission, and underwent a full RS4 conversion both inside & out when the owner, Dan Gray aka WhiskeyandWagons on Instagram, blew the original engine. The RS4 motor was sourced from two different cars (head & block), and then torn down and rebuilt by Redline Speed Worx (engine rebuild pics here) which included new seals, oil pans, pumps, and the whole works…but Daniel didn’t just stop at replacing a blown motor, that would have been too easy. The car also had swapped in a manual transmission, a ton of high-end mods, and then came the OEM RS4 body work, custom forged HREs, and an Audi Exclusive Cambridge Green (LZ6E) paint job to make this a true unicorn in the US.
RS4 Engine & 6 Speed Transmission Swap:
The RS4 motor was installed in July, 2016; despite the B7 S4 having a 4.2 V8 and the RS4 having a 4.2 V8, these are completely different engines and this swap is anything but straightforward. To my knowledge only one other person has done this swap in the US, and Dan’s is by far the most extensive. The engine swap took about 8 months and was completed in the Fall of 2016. The process itself was filled with multiple cases of troubleshooting issues with the swap or waiting on parts that were back ordered to Germany, but nothing the folks at Redline Speed Worx (RSW) and Excelerate Performance couldn’t handle. Some interesting highlights of this swap from Dan include:
- A lot of time went into rebuilding the engine, including a full tear down
- Every wearable part was replaced – every seal, all new pumps, injectors, spark plugs etc.
- Getting the engine installed and running involved welding in a front mount because the S4 motor just uses a snub mount integrated into the radiator support…with the RS it’s a full third mount off the frame.
- The ECU’s had to be mounted and the battery was moved to trunk where he spare tire normally resides.
- The fuel system was replaced down to the lines and low pressure pump.
- The cooling fan harness had to be re-pinned to work with RS engine harness.
- Power adders installed including JHM 2.75 downpipes, EBWerks 2.75 exhaust, Gruppe M intake with 034 inlet hose, JHM LW crank pulley, and 034 engine mounts.
With the guts out, Daniel also completed a 6 speed manual transmission swap, a key feature to make the car more enjoyable. To make shifting a little smoother, he added a JHM shifter trio, along with the JHM 3R clutch kit (including R series pressure plate and lightweight flywheel). Last but not least, he added one of my favorite mods from my B7 days, a JHM LSD. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, this wagon can do donuts (and will sound amazing while doing it). When Dan finished the engine & transmission swap, he took it to Avantoberfest and enjoyed it in this state for a few months, but he had bigger plans were in-store for the car.
Enter Phase 2 of “he could have stopped there, but didn’t” to this build with the OEM RS4 body conversion. Frank’s Auto Care in Connecticut handled the body work in transforming this “narrow body” Brilliant Black B7 S4 Avant to a widebody. The body work was finished off in OEM Audi Exclusive Deep Green Metallic aka Cambridge Green (LZ6E) paint. This paint option was available on the RS4 in Europe, and is a very rare color that is subtle yet fits the build perfectly. Inspiration for the color choice, which was easily the hardest decision to make on this build according to Dan, came from an Instagram account (@Gasoline.Culture) and their RS4 Avant in Switzerland in the same color.
The body panels themselves came from 5 different cars; the rear quarters and one rear door came from one crashed RS4 sedan, the front fenders, hood and side skirts came from another car, the other rear door from a 3rd car, the front bumper from a 4th sedan in the US, and the rear bumper came from an RS4 Avant in Germany. All of these body panels were obviously used and had to be refinished and painted to new condition by Frank’s Auto Care. Cutting and welding the rear quarters was the biggest part of the wide body swap, and Frank kept all the factory welds and seams in place, which you can see in the pictures below. Other nice details of this build include utilizing a European RS4 avant rear bumper and euro headlights, along with all of the proper air ducting for brakes and cooling that sits behind the RS4 front bumper and connects to the underbody shield. Countless hours went into making the body perfect, and it shows.
Wheels & Suspension:
Okay, so you’ve got tons of “show” and “go,” but what’s missing? Stop, and turn. Like the engine swap, Daniel spared no expense or detail on the suspension, brakes, and wheels, installing a bevy of top of the line parts including KW V3 coilovers, adjustable control arms, 034 Motorsport rear sway bar with adjustable end links, 034 trans mount, Apikol rear diff mount, and front sway bar mounts.
Dan finished it off with some brake upgrades which the car sorely needs at this point, which are a Brembo GT’s in front, and JHM bbk in the rear with EBC red stuff pads. Of course, wheels make or break a build, especially with a widebody, and this build is no exception. Dan is rocking forged 19×9.5 HRE P43SC wheels with Potenza 255/39/19’s which fills out the widen fenders nicely.
Last but not least, the car obviously has your standard “RS4” upgrades to an S4 interior like the shift knob, but also has some more rare upgrades; most notable are the Recaro Sportster CS seats, which very closely resemble the Euro RS4 seats. Dan also installed a TTRS steering wheel and SRP racing pedals, but kept the interior largely OEM looking to match the exterior.
It’s fun watching a car like this transform, and Dan was kind enough to share some of the pics of the car throughout the journey, from beginning to current. I’ve shared a few here so you can see the transformation yourself, and begin to wrap your head around how much work it took to build a US-spec B7 RS4 Avant. This build had been a dream of Dan’s for over 5 years, and took nearly 2 years to complete. This isn’t the average swap build that an enthusiast does in his garage over a long weekend, but a fully committed and one-off build to OEM quality.
Was it all worth it? Dan says yes, absolutely:
This has been something of a dream car for me for a while. For me personally it’s just one of the most beautiful cars out there. It’s also a complete joy to drive and listening to it at full boil, you can’t avoid smiling while driving this thing.
Dan would like to give a special thanks to Redline Speed Worx, Excelerate Performance, Frank’s Auto Care, Shoreline Coatings, and Alex Maurer for parts. Photo Credits to Kieren Buttrick (@kierenbuttrick), Shawn Dos Santos (@sd5photography), Mark (@thatb5_a4), and Audi of America.