Chris Hynes was probably born a tech guy with a do-it-yourself spirit. That explains his current occupation as a visual systems engineer, who incidentally lives and works in Orlando, Florida, in the military simulation field. When he bought his 2003 Audi A4, 1.8 Turbo about a year and half ago, it was not only a reliable and exciting mode of transportation for his family of four, it also turned into a way for this talented engineer to modify his own car and sharpen his creative edge. The goal was to create a unique-looking Audi, not overdone but with enough subtle and not so subtle changes to impress someone who could appreciate the mods.

Exterior modifications to the Dolphin Gray car begin with a German Kerscher body kit that incorporates a carbon fiber front splitter and side skirts, an Audi S4 grille, eye lids over the headlights, and S4 lip spoiler on the trunk. The car rolls on 19" RPM 505 rims, fitted with custom Audi center caps and wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza 245/35-R19 tires. Brembo 13" drilled and slotted rotors with painted-to-match calipers haul the car down from speed while the Tien springs update the Audi Sport Suspension, giving the car a 1-inch lower stance all around.

Performance mods were as important as styling and include an upgraded GTRS Turbo set at 19 lbs. of boost and controlled with APR Stage II software. A Race Tec front-mounted intercooler, Forge 007 diverter valve, and larger Audi TT 225 fuel injectors ensure a cool, dense charge to the motor while the Techtronics down pipe feeds a 2.5-inch AWE full cat back exhaust. The Tiptronic automatic trans was the perfect choice for this family car.

While the list of upgrades might have been enough for many, Chris was just getting started. "I always wanted to play around a bit with stereo so I did a lot of reading before I began. I used the same approach for the stereo system, keeping it clean but adding subtle elements to create that ‘Wow’ factor." Thanks to magazines, the Internet, and trial and error, Chris developed skills in both fiberglass and upholstery. He chose a mix of components based on their performance and, with his computer graphics skills, he designed the system on the computer before he lifted the first tool.

Once all the details were organized to his satisfaction, he gutted the car in order to wrap the floor, doors, and trunk with Dynamat Extreme. The heart of the system is the Alpine IVA-W205 Mobile Multimedia Station head unit with touch screen, DVD, and an iPod touch connection. He also o added Alpine’s state-of-the-art combination of portable and in-dash navigation, the Blackbird PMD B200 portable GPS unit. Then, to ensure maximum control over sound quality, he mounted Alpine’s PXA-H701 Multimedia Manager in the rear fender well, using its combination of 165 band EQ, 27 band parametric EQ, and eight channel time correction to fine tune the system.

Chris updated the speaker mix beginning with JL Audio 6.5" XR component sets in the factory door locations. Separate tweeters were mounted high on the door panels and a second pair of component sets were installed in a custom enclosure on the rear package tray. Chris found that it provided better imaging as the sound bounced off the rear glass. Lots of effort went into the trunk, beginning with two JL Audio 12w6 subs mounted in a custom enclosure. The box incorporates a 3/4" acrylic window, accent lights, and mirror. The subs fire into the back seat and are visible when the seat is folded down. Amps for the system were located in the side walls of the trunk using an Alpine PDX-1.1000 that sends 1000 watts to the subs and an Alpine PDX-4.150 4-channel amp that powers the front stage. For a custom touch, Chris positioned the amps behind half-inch acrylic with frosted edges, adding blue accent lighting that matches the color of the amps and the 1-Farad Stinger capacitor. Stinger wiring and fuse blocks complete the system.

Carbon fiber highlights throughout continue the theme of subtle elegance. Even though the trunk is loaded with stereo, the Audi is a family vehicle so there is a full working spare, visible under the acrylic floor. The installation itself took a lightning-quick three weeks with Chris working nights and weekends in order to have the car ready in time for several upcoming shows on this year’s Florida circuit.

"I really liked the Alpine combination with their fully functional head unit and Multimedia Manager network through the touch screens," says Chris. "The JL Audio speakers and powerful amplifiers are, in my opinion, the best on the market. The Stinger Bullet Series wiring components are highly rated and the colors matched the theme of my car." Future plans include even more subtle touches to include an S4 rear bumper, more horsepower, and more refinements to the stereo system but for now, this talented engineer plans to simply enjoy his DIY ride.

Photography by Joe Greeves