The red A4 was impressive, but still very refined even given all the mods. The next car I rode in was Cameron's highly-modified 1997 A4 1.8T. "Cameron asked us to build an A4 racecar and I think we've accomplished that goal," said Todd, referring to the car that started life as a Tiptronic and was later converted to a 5-speed manual. Indeed, the list of performance enhancements stretches on and on. The car has been on ongoing project and changed forms many times. Although Cameron has moved on to TT tuning (and sold this car back to Vortrag) it still serves as a great example of Vortrag's approach to ultra-tuning.
Take a moment to read the modifications in the box to the right. A few things might jump out at you immediately. For example, note that Vortrag put some serious time and engineering effort into converting the car to a standard transmission. The challenge lies not only in the internal mechanics, but in how to integrate the shifter and clutch pedal into the interior. They do not, after all, belong there! Note also the massive size and setup of the Alcon touring brakes. Alcon touring brakes are of course intended for touring cars and carry with them both immense braking power and a hefty price tag. What interested me is that the system uses a dual master setup and is fully manual. What that means is that when you press the brake pedal you are actually applying pressure to the brakes. Press harder and you stop with greater force; press quicker and you will be slowed at a higher rate. A system like this takes some getting used to, but according to Todd it provides the ultimate in responsiveness to the seasoned driver. Note also that these B-types are outfitted with all the necessary dust and weather seals so that they are street friendly, as opposed to race only.
The best way I can describe being a passenger in this car is to make an analogy to a go-cart. I'm not talking about some broken down, run-of-the-mill go-cart either. Pretend that you're inside a super fast cart that will turn on a dime, stop nearly instantaneously and basically allow you to do things that you wouldn't even try in a fast moving object. That is what it's like to ride inside this car.
The first thing that Todd did was to accelerate to about 50 mph as he approached a corner. I just assumed that we were going straight because, of course, it would be ludicrous to take a corner at that speed. How wrong I was. Todd came up to the corner and simply turned the wheel. The car did not slide or shimmy or something worse (like flip), but instead followed the commands of the driver and took us willingly in the new direction. This little hair-raising turn was immediately followed by more acceleration and then a stop from about 60 to 0 in what felt like less than a second. This type of driving is what this car was built for. Strapped into the Recaro race seat by an ultra-secure six-point harness and surrounded by the custom roll cage gives me the knowledge that I am safe as Todd puts the car through its paces.
To be sure, this particular A4 would not be meant for most people. While it is completely street legal and, in fact, cooperative enough to be a daily driver, it is a far cry from the luxurious refinement that most of enjoy inside our Audis. It is, however, a testament to both the quality of the Audi vehicle and Vortrag's tuning skills. If this car can make the transition from passenger vehicle to race car, it should give most people relative confidence in making minor tuning modifications (such as suspension mods, chips, and brake upgrades) Similarly, if Vortrag can pull off this type of transformation, they are certainly qualified to assist customers with less agressive tuning programs.