Feature Car: Epic S8

In many classic epics the hero has to persevere through trials and tribulations, proving his worthiness, his wherewithal and his resolve. In this epic, set in the modern urban background of the New York metropolitan area, our hero was tried and his success can be gauged in the form of this stunning ebony S8.

Rodney Primus is not new to the Audi family. In fact, in addition to being a true car guy, he also happens to be the Audi Brand Specialist at Life Quality Audi in Brooklyn, NY. Working, living and breathing Audis, it’s only natural he turned to the four rings when as he decided to indulge his modding passion.

His first creation, a stunning TT coupe, appeared on the New York Metro car show scene and drew its fair share of crowds. In fact, it was as Rodney sought out a magazine photographer at a show in New Jersey that the car disappeared from its parking space outside of a hall at whatever cursed fairgrounds Rodney happened to be gracing that fateful day.

As if having a car with so much of his blood, sweat and dollars invested stolen out from underneath him wasn’t enough, Rodney would be further tried throughout the next few weeks. A ticket with a photograph attached was sent to him picturing the car blowing through a toll booth on the George Washington Bridge shortly after its disappearance. This taunt from the past came with a price, and Rodney bitterly paid the toll rather than wasting more of his valuable time fighting the ticket.

Finally, the shell of Rodney’s beloved TT was found abandoned in the Bronx.

For most, this might be enough to walk away, buy a Toyota Camry and disappear into automotive anonymity. You never get your money out of cars like this, and at this phase in modified car ownership, it’s easy to wonder if you should invest again, only to make the car a target for more soulless thieves.

Fortunately, Rodney is made of tougher stuff and he decided to continue on, particularly when a clean black-on-black 2001 S8 became available. With only 11,000 miles on the odometer, the local car had been traded at his dealership. He snapped it up. The very first order of business involved repainting the bumpers to rid the car of its only blemishes.

As soon as the S8 was in his hands, Rodney knew he’d be modifying and improving on it. As he began researching what to do with the car, though, he realized that few companies make modifications for the A8, much less the S8.

One of the first and most striking modifications that owners can do to a car is adding larger and more aggressive wheels and tires. S8s rolled out of Ingolstadt with 18-inch Avus alloy wheels, so Rodney would need a truly aggressive solution to top the factory equipment. Since he’d worked with BBS of America before on his TT, Rodney decided to call his contacts, Kevin and Lucille, at the US wing of the German wheel manufacturer. The call resulted in Rodney’s acquisition of the first set of 20-inch BBS Le Mans wheels in the country, built specifically for this car and making careful provisions for the S8’s massive brakes.

Width of the wheels is 8 ½-inches at the front and 9 ½ inches at the rear. The look, Rodney knew, would be amazing though choice of tire profile with the differing widths at front and rear would be critical so as not to damage the quattro all-wheel drive system.

As it turns out, BBS North America had a connection at Michelin who recommended Michelin Pilot Sports in 245 35 20 at the front and 285 30 20 at the rear. According to Rodney, calculations from BBS and Michelin assured him that this setup would provide more meat in the back and, more importantly, the same rolling diameter.

Identical rolling diameter is critical, as differences from one wheel to another can fool the all-wheel-drive system into sensing slip and falsely causing torque transfer via the differentials. Constant rolling differences would theoretically mean constant engagement of the differentials, and eventual over-heating and damage would result. Rodney wasn’t going to take any chances.

Having played with coilover suspensions before on his TT Coupe, Rodney knew he wanted to go with coilovers again on the S8. The only solution he found during his search was a kit from Car Graphic, USA. Though not adjustable in the rear, it is adjustable in the front and this allowed Rodney to drop the nose even more aggressively.

Talking at great length with Hershel and Eric from Car Graphic, Rodney decided to fit additional products from them to his S8. One of the more intriguing components he found from Car Graphic was a 2 ½-inch cat-back exhaust with true dual outlets. Though the stock S8 system is a dual setup, it flows through one muffler and out only one side. The Car Graphic system re-routes the system around the spare tire for a true dual outlet exhaust.

In order to install the system correctly, it was necessary for Rodney to cut the rear valance so as to make room for the second outlet. Removal of the rear tow hook was also needed to complete the job.

The result is simply stunning. As if the engine note of the S8’s high-output 4.2-liter V8 isn’t good enough, the Car Graphic system makes it sound even more aggressive. Also adding to the level of cool, the throaty rumble emanates from dual sets of two interlocking rings, playing on Audi’s own four interlocking ring logo.

Even though normally aspirated motors don’t gain as much as turbocharged equivalents in the case of an upgraded ECU, and even though the S8 runs the most aggressive power setup of Audi’s normally aspirated 4.2-liter V8 straight from the factory, Rodney figured there was room for improvement. Much like other components on the car, he found there was only one manufacturer making an ECU upgrade for the S8. From MTM, one of the most prominent German Audi tuners, Rodney finally was able to source a hotter chip for the car.

Though the S8 has yet to be dynoed, Rodney is most pleased with the results. The S8 pulls much harder than before. And, as cool as the TT was, he’s pretty much assured he’ll see few if any other S8s as he makes his rounds to East Coast car shows. The reactions this car receives range anywhere from awe and respect to downright giddy laughter. We saw this first hand as we followed the S8 through the throngs of Waterfest attendees this past July in an effort to conduct our photo shoot. It’s one sexy car, and as tragic as the story of its creation is, we’re glad Rodney is stronger for it and we’re even gladder he gave us a ride in it.

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