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March 2012 Featured AZ'er: DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T

March 2012 Featured AZ'er: DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T

March 11, 2012 - Written by Richard Melick, Photos by Erik Muller
User Name: DownhillA4
Real Name: Evan Gilardi
Location: Sussex County, New Jersey, USA
Year of Vehicle: 2004
Model of Vehicle: A4 quattro
Engine of Vehicle: 1.8T
Color of Vehicle: Brilliant Red
 
It is often a challenge for an enthusiast to find their perfect car. This was the case for Evan Gilardi (AKA: DownhillA4) who personally searched for nine months to find that ideal B6 to fill his garage, in the process working across state lines and with multiple dealerships. In 2008, Evan had saved enough money to purchase his B6 - a 2004 model year Audi A4 1.8T in Brilliant Red.
 
As this is Evan's first car, it gave him the perfect palette to build his dream. A build that would span over four years. Unlike many his age, Evan focused on ensuring that his car not only represented his sense of style but maintained the ultimate in cleanliness that he sought from the very start. Some might say he takes it to the extreme, others might claim that it's due to some OCD tendencies, but in the end Evan has modded his car exactly how he's wanted and at his own pace.
 
That obsessive compulsiveness didn't start or end with the modifications either. What many will notice is that this B6 is one of the cleanest of its generation on Audizine, and it's for good reason. Dirty shoes are never welcome inside the car, and you can leave that Big Gulp and hot dog on the counter too. That isnt even the meticulous part, as this car is washed more times in a week than most cars are washed in a year. It never sees the sun without a cleaning, and Evan details it every month to a sparkling shine. But whether its heading to a local gathering, across the country for a large show, or to the hills loaded with sporting gear, Evan makes sure the Audi looks its absolute best.

From the Revo Stage 1 tune to the Sonic Tuning ST8 wheels, with the Bilstein sport shocks and H&R Sports Springs, this car is built for both style and substance. It's not only about the power, but the comfort and reliability that comes with owning an Audi that Evan has personally built upon. As has long been a common and highly sought after aesthetic, OEM+ has always been the focus. This has lead to a solid design and a look that is still unique to this one particular B6.

While the look is what caught our eye, the owner is what intrigued us most. Evan is one of the younger active members on Audizine, but he has the mentality similar to many of the elder statesmen. It's not about going low, or the cost of all the mods, but building the car to make it as he wants. It's the individualism and passion behind ensuring the vehicle is as beautiful as it can possibly be each and every day. Evan's A4 truly represents his individualism and passion for the brand, and he's built something that not only looks great but is a four-ringed four-wheeled representation of himself.
 
Current Modifications

 - Engine/Exhaust:
  • Revo Stage 1 tune
  • 710N diverter valve
  • K&N filter
  • Magnaflow 16601 exhaust
 - Suspension:
  • Bilstein Sport Shocks (no bumpstops)
  • H&R Sport Springs
 - Wheels & Brakes:
  • Sonic Tuning ST8 gunmetal 18"x8.5" ET35
  • Continental DW 225/40/18
  • OEM 2010 S4 front calipers/carriers/lines
  • 2008 S4 front ECS Tuning slotted/drilled 345mm rotors
  • Rear slotted/dimpled rotors
 - Interior:
  • OEM RNS-E unit
  • BlendMount rearview mirror mount
  • Escort 8500 X50
  • Escort SC55
  • VAG-COM (windows, fog lights only)
  • OEM rubber floor mats
 - Exterior:
  • 20% Llumar tint
  • OEM splashguards
  • OEM base roof bars (Thule side-arm, Thule Atlantis 1600 box, RockyMounts Euro PitchFork)
  • OEM front bumper w/ no license plate holes
  • Venture shield clear-bra (hood, front bumper, mirrors, headlights, fog lights, rear fender flares, roof rack attach points)
  • DDM Tuning 35w 5000k high/low beams
  • DDM Tuning 35w 3000k fog lights
  • Sound deadening front fender liners
  • Diesel Geek Panzer belly pan
- Future Modifications:
  • 3M 50% Tint
  • B7 S4 rear brake set-up
  • Techtonic Tuning downpipe
  • Midland 75-822 CB radio
  • Wilson "Little Wil" 36" Antenna
Q (Audizine): How long have you owned this vehicle?
A (Evan): Since 2008 when I picked it up my first car at 17.
 
Q: How has your ownership been with it overall?
A: It's been a balance between slowly modifying it into my own version of OEM+ along with routine maintenance over the years to keep the car running and in exceptional shape.

Q: Think you'll be getting another one anytime soon?
A: No. I plan on continuing to daily drive my A4 sedan and enjoy every second behind the wheel.
 
Q: Is this your first Audi? If not, what other models and years have you owned?
A: Yes, this is my first one. After owning this car for four years and the immaculate shape it's in, I'm hoping that I'll be able to keep it for at least another five years. I have a feeling that a good looking B6 will be rare in another half a decade.
 
Q: How long have you been into Audis and in the European tuning scene?
A: Roughly seven to eight years, since I was 12 or 13. Even though the European tuning scene didn't really blow-up around where I live until the past two or three years, following the Audi/Euro scene via the internet for the past decade has kept me informed and involved in the culture - as most of us do.
 
Q: How long have you been into cars in general, as an enthusiast?
A: Always. It was funny reading Josh's Featured Article because as a kid I too would pick out cars on the highway from a distance and be able to tell what make/model they were just simply by body lines and taillights. Commuting to work with my dad three to four hours round-trip on the highways I think helped with developing my love for cars. I'd spend the entire trip scanning the road for modded and exotic cars.
 
Q: Where do you think that passion and enthusiasm comes from, can it be traced back to anyone or anything?
A: My childhood consisted of Formula One racing every Sunday along with yearly trips to Indy car races. I've always been into machines with speed. I also participate in shifter-karts, downhill mountain bike racing, and snowboarding - all involving high speeds.
 
Q: What do you most love about the car?
A: I tried to keep the factory theme while adding a sportier feel both aesthetically and with slightly better performance. I love how after driving behind the wheel of a fresh-off-the-lot 2012 vehicle, I can sit in my 8 year old A4 and still love the fit and finish. There's something to it that I can't quite put my finger on.

Q: What's your biggest peeve in regards to the car, the one thing you dislike the most?
A: The stock airbox. No matter how many times I've taken it apart and reassembled it, it still takes me forever!

Q: When did the modding bug bite?
A: The "bug" hit me before even being old enough to drive. After saving up enough money for the initial purchase of the vehicle, my "mod resume" slowly started building over the past four years; including interior, exterior, and engine modifications.
 
Q: Can you explain your modding style? Do you prefer more go, more show, perhaps a combo of both?
A: OEM+, nothing more. Every purchase has had countless hours of research on which part would fit and look the best, along with quality. I've tried to keep a balance of modifications throughout the vehicle, all of them subtle but when combined the vision has been complete in my mind of how I wanted my B6 to turn out.
 
Q: Do you prefer to do the work yourself, or do you have a shop or specific person perform the work?
A: My personal view is, you're not an enthusiast unless you perform at least some of the work yourself. Anyone can dish out a large sum of cash to have someone else build their dream car, but you just can't appreciate it in the same way. My car has only seen a "shop" type atmosphere twice in its life. Nearly everything on the car has been completed in our garage with assistance from my dad and his tools.
 
Q: What was your first modification to the car?
A: The first thing done on the A4 once it was in my hands was a Ventureshield clear-bra of the entire front end and rear quarter panels. But, for those that don't count that as a "modification", next in line was the Revo Stage 1 flash which turned the car into what it should have been straight from the factory.
 
Q: Which was your last, most recent mod?
A: Most recent modification is the Sonic Tuning ST8 18" Gunmetal wheels. They have singlehandedly changed the entire look of the car! It was the missing puzzle piece to my vision since day one and I couldn't be happier. Thanks again, Ray at Sonic Tuning!
 
Q: Which mod are you the most proud of or happy with?
A: In 2010 I was one of only a few individuals on Audizine to install a front brake set-up from a B8 S4 onto a B6 A4 platform. Not only does it look badass behind both 17 inch and 18 inch wheels, but the stopping power is unbelievable. Because I'm a practical person it's a mod that's unique yet also extremely functional at the same time. Nothing on my car has been done without some sort of beneficial reason.

Q: Describe your fondest memory of owning, modifying, or driving this vehicle.
A: The greatest moments have always been those where I drive or park somewhere to have a complete stranger give a simple thumbs up or verbal compliment. At the end of the day, this car was modified to my liking, but it's awesome to hear other people's opinions. While I enjoy working on my own car and doing every modification myself in the garage, the best times are the countless hours I spend detailing. Throughout my ownership of the car I average three to four car washes a week, all year round, with one to three 10-15 hour detail sessions a month. I absolutely love detailing and cleaning cars, Nothing's better than making a car look its best, and in many ways it's therapeutic for me.
 
Q: While the car you have now is great, what if money were no object? What's your dream car, or cars?
A: It doesn't seem so odd at this point now that everyone is realizing how great Avants are both for looks and functionality but my dream car is still the same as it was when I was 12, an RS 4 Avant. No matter how many times I got ridiculed as a teenager/young adult for wanting a wagon, no one will ever stand in my way of owning an Avant at some point.
 
Q: What do your friends and family think about your passion for Audis?
A: Friends understand my passion to a point, but it's hard sometimes because I have extremely bad OCD. The car can't leave the garage without being detailed and people are not allowed inside with dirty shoes, food or drinks. They get annoyed that wherever I go, the car has to be parked as far away as possible in a corner to avoid damage. I've accepted myself and hopefully others will as well. The family really likes what I have done with my automobile and what it has given back to me, which has not only been a learning tool with how to work on vehicles such as maintenance and modifications but also because of the amount of friends and trips it has brought me on. Without owning my Audi I would of never had some of the friends I do now nor would I have traveled to some amazing destinations.
 
Q: Have an interesting day job? Care to talk a little bit about it?
A: Aside from still being in college, for the past seven years I have been a AASI Level 1 Certification snowboard instructor and trainer and have enjoyed it to the fullest extent. I started when I was 14 and now at the age of 21 I've gained countless connections, friends, and clients. The main reason this job is pretty interesting is, well, I get paid to show people a great experience while participating in a sport I'm passionate about. Most of my time is spent expanding the bag of tricks for other coaches to improve their riding and teaching ability.
 
Any time our resort gets a tour group or school group coming in from either NYC or a town south of us where people have never seen snow; I jump at the opportunity to teach. Being with a group of people that have never seen real snow, let alone strap a snowboard to their feet, they are always an absolute blast to teach. They bring the best attitudes to the mountain and in return I feed off of their positive energy and it makes for a day of complete epicness. Everyone leaves at the end of the day with a smile on their face.
 
Q: How does your love for cars and Audis affect your life, does it play a pretty big part?
A: I try very hard not to be a car geek around my normal day-to-day friends or co-workers that have no interest in cars whatsoever, but I fail miserably. No matter where I am I'm always pointing out modifications on cars or rare color combos and models. Funny thing, people who are not my close friends, I usually forget their names but remember them by what type of car they drive.

I work primarily outside at the ski resort and we get a lot of high-end European vehicles that come in from the city. Just last week a strange rumble was heard while in the base area, it sounded familiar but I couldn't put my finger on it. That sound was a B7 RS 4 starting up, such a rare sight to see in my neck of the woods. As it coasted through the parking lot and accelerated down the road I proceeded to start talking to any friend that was within ear-shot about how badass the car was, which of course, received blank stares and the comment, "Evan, it's a car". Some people just don't understand, and that's okay.
 
Q: What brought you to Audizine, and how long have you been with us?
A: Somehow through my Google searches on a quest for finding reviews on the 2004 Audi A4 model car I was interested in purchasing, I stumbled upon a site called Audizine.com. From that point on I've been hooked. I sealed the deal on my B6 in May of 2008 and after lurking on the forums for a few weeks I joined in June of 2008. I was 17 years old at the time. Since then I have inherited a black on black 1991 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL, currently with 25K on the OD and never seen salt, but let me say that those forums absolutely suck for DIY's, model information, modifications, tip-tricks, pictures, etc. The Audi community has the best DIY's by far of any brand of vehicles out there. This community is passionate about helping each other out and this is why I enjoy sitting on Audizine for hours on end. I'm addicted to Audi!

Q: When you're not on Audizine, out playing with the Audi, working, or going to school, do have any free time to spend on other sports or hobbies?
A: When my time is not spent researching parts or creating new visions for my B6, my time and money in the Spring through Fall is spent racing downhill mountain bikes. Through our three month winters here on the East Coast, I spend every day on the icey slopes snowboarding and skiing.
 
Q: Any word of advice for your fellow enthusiasts, a bit of wisdom you'd like to impart on the masses?
A: Do your own thing. It is not all about "moar low" and "stretch and poke". Don't think that has to be done to every car. The best part about Euro shows is seeing cars of all different styles and levels, from subtle OEM to slammed wide-bodies. They all look great in their own way. Don't buy a bolt on or a set of wheels just because someone says so. It's your car so create your own vision.
 
Q: And lastly do you have anyone you'd like to thank, any shout-outs?
A: First and foremost are my parents, then my friends and Audizine members for posting DIY's with pictures and answering all types of questions - whether it's related to wheel fitment or replacing original equipment. Of course Erik Muller for the photos, Ray at Sonic Tuning, and Laszlo at Monster Coatings for a flawless clear-bra install. Thanks!
  1. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  2. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  3. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  4. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  5. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  6. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  7. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  8. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  9. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  10. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  11. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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  12. DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T - photo by Erik Muller

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March 2012 Featured AZ'er: DownhillA4's 2004 A4 1.8T
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