If you get your kicks from contemporary (fourth-gen) Audi RS3 Sedans pushed well beyond 1,200 hp and dropping 7s quarter-mile runs, perhaps you should remember the model that started it all, the 1996-2003 A3. But why risk boring you with the stock vehicle machine when we have this A3 “cartoon” art car to discuss?
We’ll get to the details of the German hatchback later, but we have to kick things off with the… Japanese part of the build. As Mihnea explained when showcasing this similar Volkswagen Golf IV GTI that stole the Essen Motor Show 2022, the looks-fast-standing-still appearance of the vehicle seems to be borrowed from Initial D. In fact, here’s the visual treatment applied to a recent Toyota GR86 commercial referencing the famous street racing manga/anime.
As is the case with the cars in the manga, painted reflections and hash marks make the vehicle appear like it’s speeding all the time. For a while now, social media has brought us real-life projects resembling the Initial D style. And, as you can easlily imagine, not all of them are JDM machines that could always be found in a manga. For instance, this Audi, which was completed about a week ago, certainly stands out. Oh, and it was painted by the same artist as the GTI.
While the VW showed a cleaner apporach, the Audi appears more flamboyant, at least to these eyes. The car, which was originally black, was sanded, with the color play coming straight on top of it rather than covering a wrap, as with some other projects of the sort—it was spray-painted.
The colors used to portray light reflections involve at least two shades of green, yellow and white. And, judging by the making-of videos (you’ll find one below), it appears that the hash streek marks and panel lining, both of which come in black, were applied in between two layers of clear coat.
The visuals come from a German artist named Alexander Bloch (aka stilbruch_lack). And, for this Audi, his visual tricks even include the four-ringed badge on the front grille! You should know that his custom car efforts also include stuff like a Ford Hot Rod or this darker-than-dark STI, whose Musso Black paint absorbs up to 99.4% of the visible light.
Walker’s Garage, the German shop behind the build, also installed air suspension supplied by TA Technix—as with the GTI, this means the A3 is no show queen, as one can alway hit the supermarket to see what that crowd thinks of the machine.
And while the Golf featured Turbofan wheel covers, the Audi A3 sports larger five-spoke, directional design wheels coming from Polish specialist Japan Racing Wheels.
The original Audi A3 was a bit of a gem, even in mundane configurations
This is a good moment to mention we’re dealing with a facelifted first-gen Audi A3 powered by the brilliant 1.8T engine (more on this below). Introduced in late 2000, the easiest way to spot these revamped models from the outside is by checking out the headlights, taillights and the flush lock in the trim piece above the rear number plate.
The first-generation Audi A3 was never imported into the US—it’s not just that compacts aren’t as popular in America compared to other parts of the world, but Audi was also “fresh” in the segment, as the original A3 was its first small car after nearly two decades. Even so, the SEMA show did reportedly enjoy one of these many years back, as this Bring a Trailer post shows.
The original A3 gave its platform to models like the… Mk IV Golf and the modern classic that is the first-gen Audi TT, among others. These Volkswagen Group cars also shared the various versions of 1.8T 20V four-cylinder turbo.
And, even with this A3 probably packing the least potent iteration of the unit, its 148 hp (150 PS) would still make it as powerful as the early Mk IV Golf GTI (yep, same engine). Does this make the A3 a hot hatch? Frankly, it would be hard to use such a label. That’s because the range was topped by the S3 (the RS3 landed for the second generation), whose 1.8T went all the way to 222 hp (225 PS). Still, the power-to-weight ratio of the compact is respectable.
Now, all the “cartoon” project cars we’ve seen to date were arguably budget builds. Nevertheless, with this trend apparently continuing to spread, it’s only a matter of time until somebody applies the style to a high-dollar build, be it over a wrap or not. And you’d better brace for the incoming controversy…