Throwback: An Audi RS4 That Hates Corners
2024 Intro

A Northern European Audi build on Speedhunters – what image does that conjure up?

For most readers, it’ll be an ’80s or ’90-era quattro-equipped variant pulling off a huge AWD power skid at a Gatebil event. But not all modified Audis are cut from the same cloth, and 10 years ago Bryn Musselwhite took a look at a B7 RS4 that was built different…

A Finland Audi RS4 drag car -7
2014 Feature

For me, Audi evokes images of flame-spitting rally cars, joined by a howling soundtrack of five cylinder firepower and turbocharged wonder. Then there’s sleeper wagons with 500hp growling around the streets at night, hunting for innocent supercar victims. But what about straight line action?

To be completely honest, what the name Audi doesn’t do is make me think of drag racing. Until now. Because in a straight line, the RS4 I’m about to show you is the fastest of its kind in the world. Oh, and it makes 1,100hp and really doesn’t like corners.

A Finland Audi RS4 drag car -1

When you’re a Speedhunter finding a great feature car can be a little bit like finding your next decent meal – you don’t know exactly where it’s coming from, but you trust it’s out there. Five years ago I went to Finland to shoot some cars and take a closer look at the scene over there. When it came time to head over for another trip I spoke to my friend Henri and he mentioned that his neighbour had an Audi I might be interested in.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-10

Literally a two-minute walk from where I’d been staying on my previous trip was the large garage of Tomi Paavola. Packed full of very cool toys, from motorbikes to a turbocharged Mercedes-Benz, it was the Audi that I’d come to see. Having just the bare stats to go by, I needed too.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-8

Externally, the Audi is pretty stock looking with no wild wings or crazy team graphics. It’s just some logos on the rear quarters and a hint of weight saving, with the side and rear windows having been replaced with polycarbonate.

A Finland Audi RS4 drag car -4

The bonnet and boot lid are both carbon fibre but even that’s not that uncommon in the Audi tuning scene. Incredibly, the genuine RS4 shell still has full steel doors and a standard glass windscreen fitted.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-13

Although from this angle things look a little different – the Stroud parachute definitely makes you look twice. For those in the know, any car that needs a parachute to slow it down must be quick – single-digit ET quick.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-1

Then there’s the size of the rear wheels and tyres and the way they sit inside the arches so the body can squat down when the Audi launches. At 11.5 inches across they’re not that far removed from a tyre width you’d find on larger set of road wheels – in drag terms they’re actually a bit skinny. And how about that back end? A Strange (coolest brand name ever) spool type, Pro Mod spec diff is housed inside the custom centre – and is very different from the original Audi setup.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-2

Those rear tyres get a lot of help at the front though, with another big sticky set to help them out when horsepower comes calling. Despite its appearance, Mickey Thompson’s ET Street is actually a DOT-approved street tyre. Okay, so it might not be much good in the wet but, hey, don’t go out in the rain! There’s another special component in this picture hiding a sneaky secret… Can you spot the imposter?

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-9

To be fair you’d be hard pressed to spot the Nissan R33 GT-R inner CV joints on the front driveshafts, but they’re needed because of the Nismo V-spec R33 GT-R transfer case and a Nismo 2-way front diff with a 4.11:1 ratio. The Liberty gearbox is a drag racing work of art, and something that can be commonly found in the world’s quickest, manually-shifted, straight line cars.

A Finland Audi RS4 drag car -3

And this is one of them. Tomi previously ran a quick, drag-spec Audi coupe, but when that just wasn’t fast enough he decided to go for broke with this bare-shell RS4 build. Put together by himself and a very skilled team in Finland, sticking with the Audi brand is a credit to them.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-16

Especially when you consider that they retained the five cylinder engine, when so many others would have gone V8 or perhaps RB or 2J power. It actually makes my brain fizz a bit that it only displaces 2.2L – that’s 560hp per litre.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-18

Given the long heritage that the Finn’s have got with rallying and motorsport – and Audi being a massive part of that history – there are some very talented specialists to make use of in this part of the world. But that still doesn’t explain to me just how this motor became so potent.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-15

You might want to take a closer look at the technical spec of the build, a lot of which was developed in conjunction with APR Finland. If I’m being honest, how the engine does what it does confuses me – especially when I’m told the exhaust valves are smaller than stock. How does that work? Watch this dyno-based power run video to get a better understanding of how effective the package is.

A Finland Audi RS4 drag car -5
A Finland Audi RS4 drag car -2

Just like the Finnish people who are generally modest and don’t usually shout about how good they are at things, the whole build really oozes class for me. Like how the standard silver exterior gives way to a dark grey Pro Stock spec cage.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-12

It really sums up this build for me – the closer you look, the more you are rewarded with this incredible Audi.

This film from the drag strip shows just how devastatingly effective the hybrid Audi/Nissan/Strange AWD system is.

Better still is this film, which takes us in car for the ride! The revs never seem to drop and Tomi does the whole run one-handed as he slams the shifter back and forth, then swiftly reaches for the parachute release at the top end.

Finland Audi RS4 drag car-3

Truth be told, the RS4 hasn’t seen much action in the last couple of years. Tomi enjoys enduro racing and is rather good at it, so along with a business and young family to look after his time is often taken up by other things.

The fact remains that – in its time – this Audi could well have been the quickest AWD car in the world on street legal tyres. Just let that sink in for a second… Pretty cool, huh?

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: brynmusselwhite



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So sick! Knew it had to be in the 8s when i read the power and saw the tires but didn’t think it was low 8s. That’s really fast!

random name #48921

Sad mate just sad, my used gokart will smoke this and it only cost $130. I bet you kids don't even know about the Young's Modulus. Anyway got to go, i am training Verstappen in 10 min.


“McClure originally started with a 1,000-pound thrust motor but later upped it to 1,500, which pushed him from low-six-second passes into the fives. He recalled his first five-second pass coming at the Manufacturers Meet at Orange County Int’l Raceway in 1973“



Got some extra tubing and an old GSXR1000 engine laying around? Runs in the low 9s with stock power levels. Ironically a few easy modifications and this would go faster than the Audi pictured here lol. That’s hilarious.


Whatever happened to musselwhite and that Volvo? That was one of my favorite speedhunter builds


Damn that's one fast Audi!! Sheesh!!!


I swear this RS4 looks so familiar it must've been at Gatebil very often