It’s quite rare, but every so often you stumble upon a car that is so raw and insane that you can’t help but fall in love with it. I’m talking about the type of car where no two panels are the same color, where aesthetics aren’t just an afterthought but scarcely a thought at all. These are vehicles that spend 99% of their running lives at, and well beyond, the ragged edge. Kenneth Alm’s Audi A4 is such a machine and perhaps the best example of all go no show I have ever seen.
Surely you had have seen the car by now, and perhaps you were wondering why it has appeared as a lead image on the homepage virtually every time we make a post about Gatebil. I’ll tell you why, this thing is fucking badass. The problem is, much like sarcasm, insanity doesn’t translate well over the Internet and you really can’t fully understand the car until you experience it.
I had seen the car several times on the net before arriving at the Rudskogen event where I was to shoot the car for a feature. From what I had seen I could tell it was being driven hard but I had no idea to what extent the madness would occur. Much like the event as a whole, I fear I completely underestimated this Audi.
The way Kenneth throws this thing around is awesome, truly. Prior to shooting the car I had a fairly long discussion with a local guy who also drifts an Audi, albeit at lower intensity, and very much looks up to this man and his machine. More or less he told me that I must see Kenneth on track, that his driving style would be like nothing I had ever seen before, a total madman. He was right.
But I suppose you’d have to be at least partially insane to even attempt what he’s doing. If I made a list of potential drift cars an Audi A4 wouldn’t even be in the top 100, yet here it is and it’s incredible.
On the outside the car doesn’t really give much away, save for the stickers, a few holes in the bumper, miscellaneous quick releases and the sheet metal scoop on the roof. There is no ultra widebody conversion, no massive rear wing, not even a splitter or canards. There’s really nothing about the car that looks particularly menacing…
Until it gets driven. Vastly different from a normal drift car, an AWD setup requires special technique and a very dedicated driver. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car capable of producing the amount of smoke Kenneth brings into a corner when he chucks the car in backwards and lights up the tires. There’s only one word to describe it – awe. Or Gatebil. Maybe there are two words.
Surely a car this hostile would require some kind of mega extreme build with loads of shiny doohickeys to sustain such unbelievable drifts, or so I thought. In fact I think I was even more dumbfounded by the car and the way it behaves on the circuit after I gave it a thorough examination.
While the setup is unquestionably complex and sophisticated, it turns out Audi did most of the hard work for him as the setup utilizes a brilliant hodgepodge of factory components. The driveline has been converted to AWD using an S4 manual gear box, front gripper LSD and axles combined with an S2 rear differential and driveshaft. The center differential has been welded solid to ensure that maximum power is translated into smoke at the rear tires.
Power comes from a Frankenstein engine using a 2.5L inline five cylinder diesel block and a 20v head from an S2. The block, which costs next to nothing (around $100 US!), was designed by the German car maker to withstand extreme punishment making this not only a cheap bottom end but also and incredibly reliable one. When combined with a head from a vehicle which, during its day, was the top of the range sports car from Audi, you’ve got a pretty potent setup.
The radiator has of course been relocated to the back of the car, per the laws of Gatebil. As you can see there is a duct constructed of sheet metal, duct tape (too ironic) and a couple of screws. When I was looking in more closely our Gatebil correspondent and generally rad dude Egil had joked about how it was aligned perfectly and could account for most of the car’s performance. Unlike the web, I could quite easily detect his sarcasm in person.
Feeding the beast is a trio of Bosch pumps which draw E85 from a fuel cell to prevent any chances of starvation. Not the most flashy solution but it does the trick of supplying plenty of petrol to the thirsty 1600cc injectors at the other end. It’s brutally simple to be honest, but the car seems to work rather well.
Back in the engine compartment custom manifolds have been fitted on either side of the head along with a massive 71mm Precision turbo and a TiAL wastegate. Taking into account some custom rods, pistons and camshafts and that’s about all there is to the engine setup. Tuned with an Autronic SM4, this cleverly thought out configuration is good for over 800hp to the wheels!
Not surprisingly, the cabin has been fashioned in much the same way that the exterior and engine have been. There are only a few criteria: if it’s necessary to slide the car, it stays. If it isn’t good enough, it’s upgraded. Everything else is removed.
And I do mean everything.
I can’t imagine that Kenneth can even see this gauge while the car is drifting, but at least he can count his revs on the way out of the pit lane.
Most of the vitals reside in the center console with a range of gauges monitoring critical information and a switch panel, which is mostly used for switching of course.
One telltale sign that Kenneth is the type of guy that tears shit up while generally not giving a care was the hole in the middle of the rear floorboard. Apparently the car was going so hard that the driveshaft couldn’t keep up and decided to let go, puncturing the sheet metal and very nearly severing the brake line in the process.
Cracks, dents and tears can be found all over the car, but the exterior of is surprisingly well kept. At a distance of fifty feet the Audi looks quite nice if I’m honest.
I almost feel that by keeping the car mostly stock in appearance it’s actually even more spectacular on track than it would be had it been hyper styled.
While shooting the car I couldn’t help but think to myself “I wonder how much longer this thing can hold together?” Literally riddled with battlescars, this car proves the adage there’s “no rest for the wicked.”
No rest indeed, that is perhaps until now. At Gatebil Rudskogen, right before everyone’s eyes, the inevitable happened…
The car slide, it made smoke, collided with another car and instantly caught on fire. The damage was severe resulting in a completely destroyed front end and a cracked engine… but even that wasn’t enough to keep Kenneth away from Gatebil.
Fiendishly tooling away for nineteen hours straight, Kenneth was able to not only rebuild the engine and straighten what was left of the front end, but also get some spare bodywork, paint it, and make it back to Rudskogen in time to make the drift finals.
Unfortunately the car just wasn’t quite the same and, despite being a crowd favorite, he didn’t advance past the first round of the drift competition. Don’t think that means it was all for naught. Rather than giving up he busted his ass to give the crowd one final show, and that’s something he can surely be proud of. That’s the spirit of Gatebil, to which I can think of no better front man than Kenneth.
1997 Audi A4 Quattro
2.5L turbocharged inline-5; diesel block, S2 20v ported head; custom rods, pistons, cams, intake and exhaust manifolds; 71mm precision ballbearing turbo; MSD LS1 coils (x5); 1600cc injectors for Ethanol; Bosch Motorsport 044 fuel pump (x3)
Autronic SM4 ECU
s4 2.7biturbo gearbox, welded center diffrential, gripper front LSD, axles, S2 rear differential, center driveshaft
SUSPENSION / CHASSIS
Koni coilovers; rollbar with adjustable arms from Sellholm; rollcage
WHEELS / TIRES
18″ wheels with 225/40-18 “cheap tires from different brands” (AWESOME!)
Momo steering wheel and seats; Sparco harness (driver); SRS harness (passenger); Auto Gauge tachometer; misc. gauges
Fully ringing the crap out of it here! 360 drifts anyone?!
I love this A4. I love it even more now. There are just no word that can describe the amount of awe when you see this car billow smoke from all 4 tyres. Good work Sean! :D
I spoke briefly to Kenneth at Mantorp and he offered me a ride-a-along.
I thought back to only a few minutes previous as I watched from the pit wall as he tried 360 entries onto the start / finish straight.
I declined the offer. I prefer my lunch to not exit my body through every orifice.
PaddyMcGrathSH Likewise, and the run I would have been riding in was the one where he crashed! lol.
Really nice car! Who would had thought that a 2.5L block from a TDI would be fit for this car???
@Pita Thanks for posting this. I literally can't find the words to explain how mental this guy is inside a car lol.
sean klingelhoefer Pita And concidering Kenneths brother Flemming also is a extreme AWD driver. was always fun to watch them compete for breisladd victory :)
FINALLY someone has done an English write up on this car. Thank you so much. I've been watching videos of the Alms brothers doing their wild stuff for a couple years now and never saw any English info on them. The man is just CRAZY!!
gahh. the alm brothers are amazing..... the s2 flemmeing drives is just as, if not more, amazing.....those rear entry drifts... droool....
@0versteer I knowi would have loved to have shot both, unfortunately it wasn't in the cards... This time.
Whoa whoa whoa whoa, the 20v head bolts to the 2.5 diesel block? uh... I may have to rethink some things I was planning....
Just a slight reconfiguration of the head's deck for some water channels to match the block and you are good to go.. ;)
"....a range of gauges monitoring critical information and a switch panel, which is mostly used for switching of course." I get your joke there. :)
The car should be nicknamed "Spirit of Gatebil":
A drift car based on something almost never used for drifting, lots of power, function over form.
And yes, Kenneth represents everything Gatebil stands for:
Why spend 19 hours repairing and rebuilding a car? Because Gatebil! Why try to enter the drift competition at all costs, even after crashing? Because Gatebil! And why keep the show going on even after all that? BECAUSE FUCKING GATEBIL!
Gatebil. You don't know, man, you WEREN'T THERE.