words: Troy Sicotte, photos: Denis Podmarkov for Imola Media
Editor’s note: With the imminent arrival of the Q2_2019 issue of quattro magazine, we decided to run the featured article from Q1_2019 and included the full photo gallery (over 100 photos)
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way(gon)…
The station wagon automotive body style nomenclature is broad and varies by manufacturer and country of origin: Touring, estate, shooting brake, long roof, Avant, and simply… wagon. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a station wagon as “an automobile with one or more rows of folding or removable seats behind the driver and no luggage compartment but an area behind the seats into which suitcases, parcels, etc., can be loaded through a tailgate.” What it does not state is that this long-roofed body shape is obsessively coveted by most European car enthusiasts, likely because there’s a strong history of fantastic performance wagons that could outperform “conventional’ performance cars. You remember many of these for sure: the 20-valve Audi 200 quattro to modern day forbidden fruit that is the RS2, RS 4 and RS 6 Avants of any ilk.
Since 2013, Audi enthusiasts all across North America have had to refer to this body style of automobile as “forbidden fruit.” It was in 2013 that Audi subsidiaries in Canada and the USA decided to no longer import the Avant version of the A4 sedan. Instead, they gave us the lifted crossover-inspired A4 allroad when it came time for a mid-lifecycle refreshening. Now don’t get us wrong. There’s nothing inherently bad with the allroad. In fact, in many ways, it’s actually much more practical with enhanced ground clearance and durable cladding that gives you permission to speed down dusty fire roads, sans any fear of cracking the oil pan. It’s a great concept. Many of “us” just prefer a wagon with a pure purpose to stay on tarmac, be it dry or snow packed. We want our Audi Avants!
Leave it to the Audi enthusiast base to work around the issue. Since 2013, many out there took it upon themselves to “de-allroad” the A4 allroad to give it most of its sports-sedan-come-wagon handling and swagger back. They lowered it and added bolt-on modifications, such as sway bars, big-brakes, larger wheels and tires. The result was our own sort of performance Avant that could tackle family duties, quattro-weather and even the occasional ACNA track day. As great as those cars were though, these much improved allroads still didn’t quite stack up to European performance wagons like the S4 and RS 4 Avant.
One of the earliest and still most famous de-allroaded A4 allroads out there was Pacific German’s Audi Exclusive Havana Black 2014 project car. Google it to see the splendor that was one of the most thorough OEM+ projects of its day. Though that car had tens-of-thousands spent in tasteful modifications, it still donned the EA888 Gen-3 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine. A motor swap was considered but Pacific German had other projects to tend to. That car has since been bought and sold a few times; hopefully being coddled.
Fast-forward to 2018. After working on several B9 platform cars, including allroads, Pacific German saw huge potential to do the build they’d always wanted to do. They acquired a brand new allroad and S4, planning to do a full drivetrain swap…no simple feet in light of modern powertrains and integrated electronics. Some call them crazy for taking on such a job, but those who know them understand this is right in their wheelhouse.
Pacific German is a family owned and operated specialty independent shop located in beautiful Laguna Hills, California. Not your usual dealer alternative shop, they do everything from service, repair and maintenance to aftermarket upgrades and full on engine conversions, which you’re reading about here. Performance Director and Master Technician, Tyler Setterstrom, states, “We like to take on projects like this because it sets us apart from every other tuner shop out there. We have the same service tools, equipment, repair manuals, and knowledge that the dealership has, and everyone at our shop is an Audi enthusiast!”
Setterstrom’s family runs the business so he has literally grown up around Audis of all types. “Growing up, our family has always been into the VW/Audi world, both owning and servicing them. The first time I remember getting into Audis was playing Gran Turismo 2 and buying a yellow B5 S4 inside the game. Ironically enough, years later, my first Audi was an Imola Yellow B5 S4!”,states Setterstrom.
Tyler is often out there at track days and car shows so the magazine staff here knew this dream build was taking place, along with a planned debut at Big SoCal Euro (see the last issue for a full coverage of that event). After its debut this fall, we hooked up with Setterstrom in Southern California for a photo shoot and took the opportunity to dig in a bit deeper with Setterstrom on how this ambitious project progressed.
quattro: On a scale from 1-10, how hard was this powertrain swap and what would it cost the average Audi owner to do once the two cars were provided?
Pacific German (PG): It was 10/10 – This is not a swap the average individual could take on. With the modern technology it would actually be impossible without use of the factory Audi scan tool (ODIS). Luckily we have these licensed tools in house to code and program the car. The conversion is something we can offer for any ACNA member. If both cars were delivered, labor would begin at around 120 hours per car assuming you brought us two new cars and wanted to drive them both out of the shop. Any upgrades or customization would be extra time involved.
quattro: How does it drive compared to the two donor cars?
PG: It drives exactly as you would imagine an S4 wagon would and even better with the upgrades that we have done to the car.
quattro: What aftermarket modifications are on the car and why?
PG: Of course, with a conversion like this, we could not just leave the car stock. Audi did a great job with the B9 S4 platform but we wanted to make a few minor adjustments to transform the car into something even more special. From the OEM RS 4 parts, to the custom gold Rotiform wheels, 034Motorsport suspension and chassis goodies keeping the car tight and in line, and the Milltek exhaust to deliver the beautiful note with intoxicating crackles and pops.
quattro: What is your favorite part of the car and why?
PG: Aside from the California BAR/CARB/Smog approved engine conversion, the best part of the car has to be the RS 4 parts. From the window trim, to the roof rails and hatch spoiler, to the Audi Exclusive steering wheel, door pulls, shift knob, etc. These were super difficult to get our hands on due to customs losing stuff multiple times and really set the car apart from others out there.
quattro: Do you plan on tracking the wagon?
PG: We will definitely be taking it to a 1/4 mile track, maybe some road course action but we have other dedicated cars for that. It’s still totally capable of hitting the track though and has done very well on some of the local Audi Club Canyon drives.
quattro: Would you do it again and if so, what would you do differently?
PG: We’d absolutely do it again! Maybe next time with an RS 5 engine or 4.0 twin turbo RS 7 power plant. We’d also absolutely have gone with a different color. Black is a tough color to keep clean but it looks amazing for the 5-minutes when it is clean!
The photographs and build sheet tell the rest of the story and in a strange way. It’s Audi of America’s resistance to import conventional A4 or S4 Avants that we have to “thank” for this project’s awesomeness with likely some to follow. The Audi aftermarket ecosystem makes it possible for dream builds to even be feasible.
For Setterstrom, quality was paramount and no stone was left unturned as it applied to how this build was approached and executed. If you’re ever in need of a full powertrain swap, the proof is here that it’s not only possible but can be expertly performed by Pacific German.
Never resting or settling, Setterstrom, along with the crew at Pacific German are always looking ahead for their next project. After supercharging a 2017 R8, and taking on this uber-Avant project, they’re looking to continue to deliver some forbidden fruit, such as an 8V.5 RS 3 Sportback build or a 4.0 TFSI twin turbo conversion into something like another B9.
2018 Audi “S4-allroad” Build Sheet:
Mythos Black on Magma Red
California BAR / CARB Approved S4 Engine Conversion
OEM European Black Optics RS4 window trim
OEM European Black Optics RS4 roof rails
OEM European RS4 hatch spoiler
OEM S4 door handles
Mythos Black color matched front lower bumper spoiler
Mythos Black color matched side lower trim panels
Mythos Black color matched fender badges w/ deleted “allroad” script
Mythos Black color matched rear lower bumper spoiler
Mythos Black color matched front reflectors
Mythos Black color matched rear reflectors
Mythos Black color matched rear Audi emblem
Gloss Black front Audi emblem
RS4 Style Gloss Black Honeycomb Grille
Suntek Full Front Paint Protection Film
Bray Windshield Film
Ceramic Pro 9H Full Vehicle Exterior Coating
Rotiform HUR-T Wheels 20×10.5 – Brushed lips with polished centers & candy gold tint
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires 255/35R/20
P3Cars Full Vent Mount Gauge
OEM European RS4 Exclusive Steering Wheel – Magma Red / Red Stitching / Soul Black
OEM European RS4 Shift Knob
OEM European RS4 Door Pull Handles
OEM European Sun Visors
OEM Carbon Fiber Inlays
OEM Magma Red S4 front & Rear Seats
OEM Leather Door Panels / Console / Red Stitched
OEM S4 Pedal Set
OEM S4 Red Stitched Floor Mats
Custom Black Suede Headliner
Custom Black Suede A, B, C, D pillars
Pinnacle Formula One Ceramic Window Tint
Audi Sport Door Entry Lights
OEM S4 3.0 V6 Turbocharged Power Plant
CTS Turbo Intake System
ABT Sportsline Power Module
Milltek Turbo-back exhaust system non-resonated, Cerakote black tips with the center tips turn down to retain Allroad rear valance/spoiler
Drivetrain, Braking and Suspension:
034Motorsport Density Line Billet Front Upper Adjustable Control Arms
034Motorsport Billet Front Strut Brace
034Motorsport Dynamic+ Front Sway Bar
034Motorsport Front Sway Bar Endlinks
034Motorsport Dynamic+ Solid Rear Sway Bar
034Motorsport Billet Rear Sway Bar Endlinks
034Motorsport Density Line Transmission Mount
034Motorsport Billet Transmission Mount Insert
034 Motorsport Rear differential mount inserts
034 Motorsport Rear subframe mount inserts
KW V3 Coilover system
Brembo GT 6-Piston 380mm Front Brake Kit with Type-3 Motorsport Rotors, TS20 Brake Pads
S4 Rear Red Brake Calipers with Slotted Discs and Ceramic Brake Pads
Brembo HTC64-T Brake fluid
Stainless Steel Rear Brake Lines