Name: Michael Tolsma // Age: 32
Location: Christchurch // Occupation: Account manager
NZ Performance Car: Hi, Michael. That doesn’t look like any A3 we’ve seen before, what’s the go?
Michael: Hey, NZPC. Well, it’s an A3 modified to my own tastes. I bought my first A3 in 2010, which I modified, and the year after the RS3 was released — it only came as a five-door sport-back, which I find less attractive, so I thought about building a three-door RS3 at some stage. But, as I had the slow version of this car at the time, I sold it, and didn’t think about it again for a long time. Then, after owning a few different cars, I started to itch for one [that] I could modify in every way possible without it becoming nasty and tacky. This A3 3.2-litre had almost everything I was looking for, and I could do what I wanted to do years before.
Damn, that’s a huge change up when you look at the factory version. Was it a hard process?
It’s a bit more complicated than it looks. I had to source parts from overseas, as nothing was available in New Zealand, and, as the base car is an ’04, the old headlights, bonnet, radiator support, guards, etc., all had to go — the RS3 front guards are made out of carbon fibre, so it was a pricey investment. Audi moved the side indicators from the fenders to the mirrors in 2009, too, and I wanted to do this properly and make it work as Audi would have intended it. Then there’s wiring and coding of the central electronics unit that needs to be done as well. To do it properly, it’s a huge job.
It looks so cohesive; do people tend to notice what has been done?
If you aren’t into these cars, it looks like a factory Audi that’s lowered on wheels. This has kind of been my intention with the build, as I like a tidy factory look. It’s a lot more aggressive than the A3 front, very angry, and because many countries didn’t get the first-generation RS3, it’s a rare appearance. For those that I’ve talked to, it definitely seems to be something people like.
And is the build done now or is there more to come?
The build is never done — I have Porsche Cayenne Brembo brakes to go on, the roof liner is to be redone in black suede, and the ugly gear shifter will be replaced with a 2011 Audi S3 one. The plan all along is to do the 250kW factory 2.5-litre straight-five engine swap with a big turbo set-up. But that might be a while away yet.
Hell of a car, Michael, keep up the solid work.
2004 Audi A3
Engine: Audi VR6, 3200cc V6, forge intake, MkVI Golf-R cat-back exhaust
Drivetrain: DSG gearbox, Quattro 4WD based on the Haldex system
Interior: 2016 S3 dash vents, 2011 A3 facelift centre console, 2007 TT instrument cluster, 2009 S3 steering wheel retrimmed in suede, MkV R32 Golf Recaros, custom roof liner, alloy interior trim
Exterior: 2012 RS3 front, widebody carbon-fibre front guards, S3 side skirts, facelift rear bumper, custom rear diffuser by Total Body Works, rear wiper delete, RS3 rear spoiler, 2011 A3 tail lights, 2011 carbon-fibre mirrors, smoothed door strips, resprayed in Sepang Blue pearl
Wheels/tyres: 19-inch AMG C63-S wheels, Falken Azenis FK-453 tyres
Suspension: Weitec adjustable coilovers
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 255 — you can get your hands on a copy by clicking the cover below