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April '09 Featured AZ'er: GR8 Ghost's 2008 R8

April '09 Featured AZ'er: GR8 Ghost's 2008 R8

April 3, 2009 - By Audizine Staff
User Name: GR8 Ghost
Real Name: Andre Betz
Location: New York, USA
Year of Vehicle: 2008
Model of Vehicle: R8 R-Tronic
Engine of Vehicle: 4.2 V8 FSI
Color of Vehicle: Phantom Black
 
So I have this great idea for a movie. It's going to be this season's next big blockbuster! OK so think James Bond, meets Top Gun, meets The Transporter, with a bit of Canonball Run thrown in for good measure. You take the hottest sportscar on the market with Audi's R8 and add a bit of the stealthy tech gadgetry necessary to make a cross country fun run. What comes out is not only one bad-ass road-going monster but a major Hollywood hit! Am I right? Well if it's half as mind blowing as the car seen in this month's Featured AZ'er article then I'm going to say "hell yes"! The best part is that this smash hit of a car doesn't belong to Tom Cruise or even Jason Statham, but our very own AZ Member Andre Betz (also known as 'GR8 Ghost' on the forums). Now how fitting is is that even his R8 has an AKA? I hereby present to you, 'The Blackbird'.

As rare as it is to see an R8 on the roads, it may be even more rare to see an owner of one on the enthusiast forums that is modifying their car in any serious way. Once we saw Andre in the Audizine R8 Forums, and what he was doing both to and with his R8, we knew we'd be writing an article on him sometime in the not-so-distant future. With his eyes firmly set on a brand-new V10 R8 we knew we couldn't delay too long, so here we are. Andre and his 2008 Phantom Black V8 FSI R8 are our Featured AZ'er for April 2009. You may or may not already be familiar with The Blackbird and its owner from their run in the recent 2008 Bullrun which took them over 3500 miles across the United States in five days. For those that aren't aware, the car was expertly fitted with a number of gadgets and goodies to make their trip more...shall we say...safe and secure. We won't go into detail about said modifications as it's been covered on the forums and within other articles, but we were lucky enough to get some killer photos from Andre so we'll let those do the talking. They'll show exactly where the aforementioned Agent 007 comes in, and why he'd be extremely envious.

Step outside of the fighter-pilot's cockpit and there are a few features which may be of particular interest to most of you, mods that we actually would like to talk a little bit about. Of particular note are the twenty inch wheels by SDS. These forged alloy wheels are called Avaritia AV80s, and have been powder-coated and color-matched to the car. They're definitely one unique wheel, and they suit the theme of the car extremely well. Rounding out the rear is another rare piece of automotive machinery by way of an exhaust from Capistrano. It's only fitting that one of the stealthiest and most gadget filled R8s on the planet would have an exhaust whose tone and temperament can be electronically controlled from the driver's seat. Stock and tame when cruising down a back alley, or loud and raucous when ripping down the highway with the baddies on your tail. All of this at the flip of a switch. That's definitely one thrill ride I think a lot of people would wait in line for. Ladies and gentlemen, we've got a hit on our hands!
 
Current Modifications

 - Engine/Exhaust:
  • Capristo Electronically Controlled Exhaust
 - Suspension/Transmission: 
  • OEM/Stock
 - Wheels/Brakes:
  • 20" SDS Avaritia AV80 Forged Alloys Powdercoated
 - Interior: 
  • Full Audi Carbon Fiber Package
  • Extended Leather
  • Top-Secret Techno Goodies
 - Exterior: 
  • Carbon Sideblades
 
Q (Audizine): So to begin, how long have you had the R8?
A (Andre): I have owned this car since September 7, 2007. This was the first car delivered to a retail US customer.
 
Q: So now that you have it, how has your ownership been with it so far?
A: I think this is the best car I have ever owned. It performs wonderfully and never ceases to make me smile. It has had few problems and seems to be bullet proof. I drove it hard for 3000 miles during the 2008 Bullrun rally and it performed flawlessly in some pretty extreme conditions (high altitude, high ambient temps, high speeds).

Q: Do you think you'll get another Audi anytime soon?
A: The plan is to hopefully get the new V10 powered R8.
 
Q: Is this your first Audi? If not, what other models and years have you owned?
A: I've had many Audis over the years. My first car was a 1981 Audi 4000i. I also have owned a 2002 allroad, 2005 A8L W12, and I currently own a 2008 RS 4.
 
Q: How long have you been into Audis and in the European tuning scene?
A: Since I saw the first Quattro Rally Car.

Q: How long have you been into cars in general, as an enthusiast?
A: I have loved exotic European cars since I was 13 or 14.
 
Q: Where do you think your passion for cars comes from? Can you trace it back or link it to anything?
A: I became a car enthusiast when I saw a copy of Popular Mechanics from the 1980's.  It featured a test of the world's most exotic cars, including the Pantera, Lamborghini Countach and the Ruf Yellowbird. I was hooked and knew that some day I would own something exotic.

Q: What do you love most about the R8?
A: The attention to detail and the joy it seems to bring other car folks. Everyone loves the R8, and especially the Blackbird. Even law enforcement officers give it the thumbs up. I like stopping and talking to people about it.

Q: What's your biggest peeve in regards to the car, the one thing you dislike the most?
A: The positive elements so outweigh the negatives that they become insignificant.

Q: Can you explain your modding style?
A: The Blackbird is sort of unique. It can't exactly be called stealthy even though that is the plan. The mods were intended to give the impression of a weapon.  Bullrun and other rallies are all about presentation and preparation.  I wanted the Blackbird to be the world's most serious rally car.  The level of electronic countermeasures are unlike any other car.  The most important thing to me was that nothing looked like it didn't belong on or in the car. The level of installation is incredible.  The custom built roof console is a piece of art.  Many OEM materials were used including aluminum and carbon fiber. There are no exposed wires.
 
Q: Do you prefer to do the work yourself, or do you have a shop or a specific person perform the work?
A: All the modifications were done by AI Design in Tuckahoe, NY.
 
Q: Which mod are you the most proud of?
A: The exhaust system is pretty trick. With the press of a button, the car can either sound like a stock R8 or a monster.

Q: Describe your fondest memory of owning, modifying, or driving this car.
A: Driving across Death Valley at 165 mph with two F18 fighter jets flying over our heads at about 300 feet.
 
Q: What would be in your ultimate two-car garage, if money were no object yet you could only choose two vehicles?
A: A Mansory Bentley Flying Spur and a Pagani Zonda F.
 
Q: What do your friends and family think about your passion for Audis?
A: Everyone knows that Audi is the best. They do ask why I need so many.
 
Q: How does your love for cars, and Audis specifically, affect your life? Does it play a big part?
A: It plays a huge part of my life. It is my only real hobby.
 
Q: What brought you to Audizine, and how long have you been with us?
A: I came to Audizine from AudiWorld. Yeah right, me and everyone else. I found the group here to be much less judgmental and more enthusiastic.

Q: What else do like to you do for fun?
A: Overthrow governments, early morning drives with the New York Motorclub.
 
Q: Do you have an interesting day job? Care to talk a little bit about it?
A: Nope.
 
Q: The secrecy and intrigue continues! So do you have any advice for your fellow enthusiasts out there?
A: Stay in school.

Q: Words of wisdom indeed. So to wrap up, do you want to give any thank-yous or shout-outs to anyone?
A: I'm 43. I don't do shout outs. (laughs)
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April '09 Featured AZ'er: GR8 Ghost's 2008 R8
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