Words & Photos by Henry Phull
I think that we may have a slight addiction to wagons, just check out a few of our recent features and all will become clear! Regardless of manufacturer, they just transform so well when introduced to a fancy wheels and lowered suspension. There’s also something satisfying about essentially turning a ‘boring’ family car into something that can turn heads. Estate cars are ultimate practical cars, with plenty of people using them over small vans if they can get away with it, which is exactly what today’s feature car is used for. It may not be a show piece, but Only Charged Dubs’ Audi Allroad has been subtlety, yet tastefully, modified to handle their daily duties as well as transporting the OCD trade stand around the UK and Europe (just like we do with our own Audi wagon, in fact). Plus, it works hand-in-hand as a demo car for many of the products they offer, too, featuring an Airdynamiks air suspension package with AccuAir e-Level management and more.
Matt Payne (head honcho at Only Charged Dubs) was using his trusted Skoda Fabia MonteCarlo as their demo car through 2014-2015, which pretty much helped OCD with their journey into the air suspension market. However, as the company grew, the need for a bigger vehicle grew at the same time. “This led to me looking at a range of options, I knew I didn’t want a van as whatever I bought also had be my daily driver and demo vehicle for OCD and our products, so I wanted something that would tick as many boxes as possible.” Matt explains.
Being a Volkswagen fan at heart, Matt started looking at B5 & B5.5 Passat wagons, which he’d always had a soft spot for. “The American’s seem to get these looking just right, which is where I pull a lot of my style & tastes from when modifying cars” he admits. However, he noticed that most Passats had “been around the world in mileage” and it was difficult to find one with a bigger engine than a 1.9tdi, along with the bodywork never being in good condition. Matt didn’t want to have to pay out for lots of paint and body repairs. So, the search expanded to Audis, such as B5 and B6 A4 wagons, but they were just too small for OCD’s needs.
With the A4 out of the equation, this left him with the A6, notably the C5 platform, given the budget. “The C5 has always been a bit of an ugly duckling – I’ve never been a fan of the boot lid and plate holder. But after looking around, and then seeing modded Allroad’s, I started to change my mind.” Matt explains, mostly down to James’ at BecauseBags and Jules Loose’s modified examples, to name a few. Matt mentions that the upsides to the A6 platform are that they come very highly spec’d from factory, have good engines, loads of room and plenty of comfort for daily use – ticking most of his boxes!
With a newly found love for the factory wide arches, Matt began the search for an Allroad. “I spent weeks casing cold trails of sold Allroads, with dealers saying that they never have them in stock for long”. So, when the ideal, 1 lady owner car, popped up near London, Matt quickly made the trip down from Doncaster, and did a deal. Not surprising, considering the Allroad in question had under 90k on the clock, was fitted with the optional Recaro leather interior from factory (also found in the S6/RS6), had good service history, and more importantly to him, “no fake wood trim!”.
“We wanted the Allroad to grab people’s attention at shows, as well as showing off the products and brands we can supply” Matt explains, so the first port of call was to get the car on to better air suspension. Well, it turns out the Allroad is actually fitted with factory air suspension with three different selectable heights. Unfortunately, being pretty dated, it’s not the best system and a lot tend to fail when they get on a bit, plus the factory air would never give OCD the actual drop that they wanted. Being the sole UK distributors of Airdynamiks, they teamed up to create a brand new C5 air suspension kit with them, bringing a new option to the market.
With a new strut and bag package all round, an AccuAir e-Level management kit (Rocker switch kit) with height-sensor technology was a no-brainer for Matt for trouble-free usability, especially since the car would be fully loaded up a lot of the time. The air installation was carried out just in time for the Ultimate Stance show back in 2015… “It went in pretty simple, mounted in the spare wheel well nothing showy, just making it neat & usable.” he explains, utilising dual stealth VIAIR 44c compressors, dual VU2 valve units, iLevel WIFI control, and dual 3-gallon seamless air tanks.
However, Matt soon worked out that the Allroad is fitted with a slightly different front wishbone and upright setup than most of the models of the same platform. “The Allroad arms are taller, meaning drop is limited, so we sourced RS6 uprights and replaced these. The wishbone arms were also replaced RS6 examples with the addition of SPC camber adjustable top arms, which got attacked with the angle grinder to save us a few more mm’s clearance to the body when air’d out.” To add insult to injury, the OE front brakes didn’t fit either! Essentially, the whole front suspension setup had to be changed, bar the ARB and callipers, for the required drop.
With the Allroad finally sitting as he had imagined, the next jobs were to sort out a few cosmetic changes, starting with the headlights. “Another bugbear of these vehicles is headlight lenses going yellow – mine had too.” Matt says, which he replaced with a newer set of US-spec examples, sourced directly from the States. These feature amber running lights, instead of sidelights, which most people don’t even notice, but totally bring the silver car together. Interior-wise, a Kenwood double-DIN SATNAV unit was installed, making those long drives to Europe much less daunting. Additionally, Matt swapped out the generic automatic gear shifter in favour of a Black Forest Industries knob, which actually makes the car look like a manual – a nice touch. The original 4-spoke steering wheel was also replaced with an S6 3-spoke wheel to complete the transformation.
Finally, let’s get down to the wheels – probably the most aggressive part of the car’s appearance. Along with the S6 and RS6 models, the Allroad ideally demands wide wheels to fully make use of the factory arches. The OZ Futura has always been one of Matt’s favourite wheels, so he decided to make a set work on the Allroad. This meant stepping up a much smaller faced wheel into a usable size. “We took a set of 17″ OZ Futura’s and stepped them up to 19” using bubble style lips (which we had to wait seven months for!), plus 7” barrels front & rear, 3” front dishes, 4” rear dishes. Sandwich mounted, with high polished dishes, black powdercoated barrels, silver powdercoated faces, with spoke fronts brushed, then full faces clear coated for protection. SRR black chrome hardware was used to finish them off”. The built wheels land at 19×10.5j (235/35/19 tyres) up front & 19×11.5j (245/40/19 tyres) at the rear, resulting in perfect arch-to-lip fitment all round – “The US look I wanted from day 1!” Matt says joyfully.
OCD have had the Allroad for 18 months now, with parts still stored away and waiting to fit. It’s fair to say the car still isn’t “done”, but then again, when is anything? A custom RS6 style grille is being put together, plus the S6 steering wheel is going to be retrimmed to match the BFI gear knob. Black headlining and pillars from an S/RS model are also on the cards. But, being a big Audi, there’s always something to be maintained… The team have already replaced the alternator (which requires the complete front end removed for access), sorted various oil leaks, replaced countless tired parts and checked the cams over (as these commonly wear on the V6 engine). Whilst it was apart, they cleaned the bay up, had some parts wrinkle-black coated and put together with new stainless fixings, which just makes it look that little bit extra special. There are plenty of jobs to keep them busy, but most importantly, Matt finally has an all-rounder that delivers on looks, practicality, is a pleasure to drive, and works as the perfect demo vehicle for OCD, too.
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