Words & Photos by Henry Phull
If you’re from Dorset and have an interest in modified cars, then you’ll probably know of Adam Hodge. He’s one of our county’s most well known people when it comes to tasteful low cars. Being a mechanic at a VAG Specialist (VAS Works) as well as having owned twelve of these cars, he’s become the source of all information for everyone who wants help getting their A3/S3 quicker or closer to the ground. If you’re into your A3’s and S3’s, face it, you’ve heard of him. Seriously, the amount of queries he gets is mind-blowing. But when you do something so well, it’s hardly surprising that so many people want to replicate it. So, when Adam told me that his first ever car was actually an A3, I was hardly surprised! He first caused a stir a few years ago with a bright orange S3 on air ride, which was one of the first cars in the UK on AccuAir’s e-Level. After that he switched back to static suspension with a gorgeous TT which did the rounds last year, but he still can’t seem to get the S3 out of his system. At the beginning of 2016 he went and picked up another example, but his time he’s opted for a more subtle, OEM+ approach.
Adam has loved the brand ever since his first car, and it’s not difficult to appreciate why, with Audi’s notorious build quality and styling. Plus working at a VAG specialist has its perks when it comes to working on the car and especially when things go wrong, which makes perfect sense as to why Adam has never really moved away from the manufacturer. “I’ve modified every car I’ve owned” he tells me, “I’ve only usually done small bits and bobs but since doing the orange S3 I’ve always felt like I’ve had to raise the bar on each build I do”.
In fact, his life completely evolves around cars. He works on them all day at work and then spends most evenings doing private jobs – the life of a mechanic! Then when he gets home, he’s forever talking to people about cars. “I love all the friends I have met through the cars/shows and will carry on with it for a long time” Adam says. Therefore, free time to work on his own car is actually very limited.
As he’d built the orange S3 previously, he knew what would and wouldn’t work this time around. In fact, he even started purchasing parts for the new car before he’d even found one to buy, as he had a vision in his head. The right car finally came along, which happened to be one the best spec’d S3’s in the country at the time, a 2009 S3 8P finished in Phantom Black. The original seller was bombarded with potential buyers as soon as it was listed online, but luckily Adam got there first. Along with a great history, factory wingback seats and nav, the car did look a little tired from the outside – but with a proper detail and some time with the dent removal man, it looked as good as new.
Adam has owned four cars on air ride, but prior to this S3, he became a dealer for AH Exclusive H&R Ultralow coilovers, so it made perfect sense to run them on his own car to demonstrate just what the suspension can do. However, getting the car to sit this low was much more technical than just fitting the coilovers, mostly because he wanted to run 20″ wheels, just to make things more difficult for himself! “Getting a car this low on 20″ wheels is far from easy… running 18″ and even 19″ wheels on this chassis is a piece of cake but 20″ is another ball game” he explains. With the rears doable, the problem laid with the front fitment.
In order to allow the front to be lowered enough, Adam opted for a pair of SRS-Tech front arches, which are 30mm wider, giving the wheels clearance and making the car look more menacing. These were colour coded by Scott at Specialist Paintworks along with the front bumper to eradicate any stone chips. Alas, it still wasn’t sitting right until he enlisted the services of Paul at Coltech Classics for a chassis notch on the drivers side. Finished off with a full suspension geometry, the S3 finally sat and drove just right.
Deciding on which 20″ wheels to go for was frustrating for Adam. Initially he wanted a set of OZ wheels, but nothing in 20″ was coming up for sale. Plus, everyone seemed to be jumping on to the ‘Motorsport look’ bandwagon. So, and rightfully so, he decided on an OEM+ theme for this car. A genuine set of 20×8.5j Audi Rotor Arm alloys came up for sale, which were in quite a state – so he picked them up for a bargain and had The Wheel Specialist Bournemouth work their magic and bring them back to new. Add a set of 225/30/20 Nankang NS2 tyres for just the right amount of stretch and they look right at home on Adam’s car.
With five-spoke wheels like the Audi Rotors, it leaves the factory brakes completely exposed. Adam decided to replace these with a big brake kit. Up front he sourced and fitted RS7 6-pot callipers along with 390mm RS7 wavey discs, finished with Ferodo DS2500 pads and custom machined front brackets to make everything fit perfectly. To compliment the front brakes, the rears have also been replaced with Lamborghini 4-port callipers, an additional Ferrari F458 handbrake calliper with Lamborghini 356mm discs and more Ferodo DS2500 pads. These were fitted to the car with custom Vagbremtechnic rear brackets. The result is stunning, with painted yellow callipers demonstrating that this isn’t a normal S3.
With the car finally looking as he had imagined it would, it was time to address the power. Adam remaps Audi’s for a living at work, so it was blatantly going to happen. He added a Revo intake, Scorpion downpipe and decat, Milltek non res cat-back with ceramic black tips, furthermore he installed Autotech fuel pump internals and an RS4 fuel return valve, Audi R8 coilpacks and a CTS turbo outlet pipe. All these modifications came to life with a Revo stage2+ map which completely transformed the responsiveness and overall power of the car.
With the car already so high spec’d from the factory with heated Wingback seats, Adam didn’t want to do much in the way of changes. Just a few refined mods have been installed, which most people won’t notice, but they really do make the interior pop. This includes carbon door inlays in the front and rear, a carbon ashtray cover and carbon gear gator surround. Plus, the centre console knee braces and steering wheel centre trims have all been painted gloss black.
The carbon theme continues on the exterior, with the addition of carbon wing mirrors – which he prefers to the genuine silver mirrors found on most S/RS vehicles. Some may also notice the carbon B pillars, a rear wiper delete and genuine RS3 grill up front. It’s all about the subtle touches for Adam, with nothing too in your face. Besides, he’s done that before with the old S3. As I said before, his cars are maturing just as he is… in the best possible way.
There’s something about seeing a slammed static car rolling… Naturally I had to take a few shots along the dual carriageway, just so you can see how it transforms and shows off the big brakes. It’s restrained but completely in your face at the same time. It’s a seriously aggressive, sophisticated and cool car, so hat’s off to Adam on what I think is his best build yet. The question is, how long will he hold on to this one? With talks of another TT.. or even switching brands altogether.. who knows? But I have a feeling if he does ever sell this beauty, he’ll still end up in another in the near future. They’re in his blood.