AUDI S3 SALOON
STEVE FRASER LIKES TO CREATE FRESH AND UNIQUE CARS. TO TAKE THINGS YOU KNOW AND TRANSFORM THEM INTO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. BUT THEN HE JUST CAN’T STOP MESSING ABOUT WITH THEM…
There aren’t many modified S3 Saloons about. But after people have seen this one we reckon they’ll be a few more.
Carl Sagan, the eminent astronomer and cosmologist, once came out with this mind-bending quote: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” [Despite him being one of my favourite people, this is not accurate. All you need to do is wait for an apple pie to fluctuate into existence in accordance with Boltzmann and the principles of entropy – Initial G].
It’s a troubling notion for anyone of a creative persuasion (as you all surely are), as it effectively strikes the concept of true originality firmly off the board. What he was getting at is that everything who exists is sitting at the end of a very long chain of actions and consequences. If you truly wish to take something back to first principles, it’s not just a case of unscrewing all the bits and seeing how it works. True originality can only come from jump-starting the second big bang and creating a whole new universe for yourself, crossing your fingers and hoping against hope that something similar to Earth will evolve, with a breathable atmosphere and plenty of crushed dinosaurs beneath the rock to use as petrol in the cars you also hope will exist.
You might think this notion would leave the world of car modifying bereft and hopeless. But no. With the burden of organic originality lifted, we’re free to take the nuts and bolts of what’s established and find new ways of reworking it. So it is with Steve Fraser’s Audi S3. Sure, on paper it may appear to be following a formula – hot modern VAG, bagged over scene-friendly wheels – but the reality of the car is so much more than that. It’s a gloriously fresh creation that turns heads wherever it goes and plasters a Cheshire cat smile across its driver’s face on a daily basis.
Now, some of you will be regular show-goers who’ve clocked the registration number and felt a flicker of recognition across your frontal lobes. This S3, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, isn’t Steve’s first show-quality build. “I previously had a Mk6 Golf GTI show car, which was featured in Fast Car last year,” he says. “And it did pretty well at all the shows across 2015, taking Best Mk6 near enough everywhere.” He’s a guy who knows what he’s playing at, that much is obvious. So why make the swap from internationally revered hot hatch to offbeat three-box saloon?
“Well, I never really planned it this way,” he laughs. “It all happened after being at Revo Technik for the day having my K04 turbo fitted to the Mk6, and seeing their Audi I kind of fell in love with the brand from there. The next thing I knew, I was sat in my local Audi dealership buying one of my own.”
Indeed, this purchase jumped the gun concerning even the most rudimentary plans that had been thrown about. A whisper of
“I kind of fell in love with the brand. The next thing I knew, I was sat in my local Audi dealership…”
a possibility turned into a suggestion that he might actually like to buy an S3 saloon. A few specs were mapped out, then the sly grin of acceptance as he decided to order his very own S3 from a cherry-picked spec list. “But this one had already been built to pretty much the spec I would have gone for,” says Steve. “It ticked all the boxes. So I made a deal.” And, without any semblance of hesitation or delay, the game was afoot.
“The build is an ongoing thing,” he continues, with the straightdown-the-line, no-nonsense manner of the seasoned car builder. “It won’t be done until it looks the best it can, and is as powerful as I can go with it still being reliable.”
What’s perhaps most impressive about this car is that, despite the undoubtedly sizeable price tags attached to the various upgrades, he’s not afraid to get stuck in and wield the spanners himself. Not that we’re knocking people who farm their projects out to specialists, of course – that’s what they’re there for, and we can’t all be experts. But for Steve, it’s a matter of pride to use his own blood and sweat as a sort of adhesive in the build.
“A lot of the work on the car I’ve done myself, unless it’s something outside of my competence,” he says. “I fitted all of the Air Lift system myself, and then left my boot install to my sponsor Car Audio Security to finish off, as I suck with woodwork! The brake conversion – fitting all the grilles and carbon-fibre parts – I did that all. The APR software was done by APR UK at Awesome GTI in Manchester. The Milltek downpipe and cat back exhaust system was fitted and made by EMP Performance, and fitting the intercooler and the dyno running was carried out by VRS Northampton.”
A disparate cast of characters, complementing Steve’s own efforts with the right expertise where it was required – the key element is to know one’s limits, ensuring just the right balance of personal involvement and a quality finish.
The way the saloon sits over those evil black Rotiforms is totally bang-on, testament to the finesse and precision of the Air Lift install, and those TT RS brakes look appropriately menacing peeping through at the front, with their wavy RSQ3 discs. Appropriately? Why yes, because something really quite mischievous has gone on under the bonnet. The stock S3’s already-hyper 2.0-litre TSI motor has been transformed by EMP’s tickling stick, kicking out a frighteningly mighty 400bhp. So the finish might be pure show, but the hardware is all go. After all, this is no pampered show queen, trailered everywhere and kept in a carpeted garage. Far from it. “Oh yeah, it’s a daily driver,” Steve assures us. “I work for British Gas so I’m driving around in a van all day, but in the evenings and weekends this is taken out and given a damn good thrashing!
“People’s reactions to it always seem pretty good too, especially with it being the only S3 saloon in the UK modified to this level – it’s pretty cool to be the only one, it keeps people interested with doing something different. I’ve done the whole Golf stuff, but hey, I’m sure it won’t be long until a few more of these start appearing. I’m looking forward to seeing what others do with them to be honest. It’s tough being on your own sometimes…”
As is the nature of cars like this, it’s constantly evolving and has in fact already changed markedly since our shoot. It’s now got different brakes, and Steve’s planning a winter makeover including different wheels and a colourful interior shake-up. And at the time of writing, Steve’s flying off to California having left the car with Revo Technik for a new hybrid turbo. “We’ll see what power we can push out of it safely. Yeah, that’s something to look forward to when I get back,” he grins. “Hopefully the car will scare me again – 400bhp was starting to get a bit boring!”
Strewth. He hasn’t created a fresh universe from scratch, but Steve certainly lives in an alternate dimension from the rest of us. He’s like some sort of infallible modifying superhero.
Well, perhaps not totally infallible. “I always end up making the wrong decisions, then changing my mind, then changing it again,” he laments. “My friends are what save me here. They play a big factor in building my car, as their opinions make a huge difference in helping me work out which route I take this project down. There are always hurdles with this car, with it being so new there’s always little niggly bits we have to work around.” But that, of course, is what makes it all so satisfying. It may not be inventing the universe, but this S3 is definitely ripping up the rule book.
It may seem to be following a formula, but the reality is very different
Mods include a Milltek downpipe and catback exhaust system