words: George Achorn, photos: Avery Peechatka
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q4_2021 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.
It was a brisk autumn morning when I first met Ming. He just rolled into the local cars and coffee in central Pennsylvania driving the first RS 6 Avant anyone had seen in those parts, parked it, and casually strolled off for a coffee. When he returned, he virtually blended into the crowd, taking in the reaction subtlety is his strong suit, which is a complex thing to explain when you consider his car… and that was before it began its transformation.
The RS 6 in question was the first to be delivered at Audi Mechanicsburg, his local Pennsylvania dealership. Ming shares that it was the second one ordered for the store. As he tells it, he had just returned to school from China and was pushing to stay up to re-set his clock from the jet lag. Since he can’t use Instagram in China, he was getting caught up on what he’d missed on that platform when he learned that the new RS 6 had been confirmed for America.
Ming had been an Audi fan for a long time. He’d even been a fan of Avants in particular from the first time he encountered a C7 RS 6 back at home in Shanghai. He knew he had to have one and placed an order for a Sebring Black example with nearly every option. Though COVID interrupted RS 6 production and delayed the RS 6 to America, when they did start coming out, his was the first to arrive in the Mechanicsburg showroom.
In China, it is practice leading with the surname first, followed by the first name. Zhu Ming then is his full name. When I mention the similarity in sound to the English word “zooming” he chuckles. Seems appropriate with both his taste in cars and the pace at which his RS 6 continued to take shape. COVID may have played a part here.
Ming has lived in the USA for five years, beginning in high school and now an Economics major at Penn State. When COVID set in, he was unable to return home to Shanghai. School eventually began teaching remotely, but he still had plenty of time on his hands… and of course the RS 6 on which to focus his attention and perfect.
A few weeks after that Pennsylvania cars and coffee gathering, his dealer began work on the first part of the Avant’s transformation. He’d been a fan of ABT Sportsline for a while, so when they revealed the RS6-R package for his Avant, he thought on it long and hard before deciding to make it happen. Fortunately, Audi Mechanicsburg is an ABT dealer, and took on the process of matching the ABT pieces to Sebring Black, then installing them on the car.
With the ABT RS6-R package and wheels in place, further evolution of the car continued. A CETE lowering module helped give the car a more aggressive stance to match the intimidating motorsport-inspired appearance of the ABT bodywork. He also turned to Oakes Detail in West Chester, PA for XPEL Stealth paint protection film (PPF) that gave the car’s paintwork a matte finish. While this layer of matte protection may have toned down the crystal effect of his car’s Sebring black paint, the change to matte made the subtle body lines of the RS 6 and the many gloss carbon pieces from ABT become much more pronounced for the perfect mix of radical flare and muted subtlety. He shares that an Eventuri intake and Unitronic tune are also in the works.
Throughout the process of the build, and the pandemic, Ming has made a practice of hitting local cars and coffee and car show events. That Pennsylvania stop was his first, though there have been so many more covering multiple states. As he sees it, he’s driving the car as it’s meant to be driven and sharing it with other car enthusiasts where its radical nature is obvious and very appreciated. Back in State College, PA and during the week when he’s in class, the menacing Avant takes on an almost sleeper-like secret identity where most Penn State students don’t quite know what to make of it. Might Ming then have discovered the virtually perfect balance, comfortable hauler in daily life and high-visibility super car on the weekends?