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How we ended up here

By: Alex 12/13/2019

Many moons ago, I had recently sold my Gen 2 CTS-V coupe and was looking for a fun car to replace it without the inordinate costs (insurance, taxes, etc.). I have a very eclectic taste in cars, and I wanted a do everything type of car that I could live with every day. I was strongly considering Audi S5s, RS4s, and even Subaru STIs. Each had their downfalls. The S5 and STI aren't fast enough. The RS4 requires mucho dinero to make faster and would likely have a similar high cost of operation like the CTS-V it hoped to replace.


By this point in life, I had embraced the universal truth that all cars are better as station wagons. I found myself at a bar on a Saturday next to my now wife as I perused numerous Facebook groups for something that would jump out and grab me. In "Unique Cars For Sale," I knew it as soon as I saw it. An overlander/adventure built Audi Allroad. All terrain tires, slight lift, 6-speed, Quattro AWD, 360 whp, and wayyyy cheaper than anything else I'd been considering. I sent the owner a message and a few weeks later, I was on a plane to Virginia.


The transaction went smoothly and I was on the road back home. The car was driving great on the highway and was surprisingly snappy considering its 4000+ lb curb weight. Four hours in, disaster struck. The car began to overheat. A coolant leak was apparent at first glance. Appearing to come from the middle of the engine, I assumed the troublesome auxiliary water pump, located beneath the intake, was to blame. I poured some water in it and got back on the road. The overheating quickly returned and I repeated this process a few times until I started to hear some valvetrain noise. I then knew that things had gone incredibly wrong.


Luckily, I have some good friends and family. My future brother and father-in-law made the 14-hour round trip to trailer me home. I didn't know it at the time, but when I started the car to pull it onto the trailer, that'd be the last time a twin turbo 2.7 liter Audi V6 would make any noise between the framerails of my car. When I got it home for a more thorough inspection, I pulled the motor and found that the water pump had completely failed. When I say failed, I mean the I removed the pulley and shaft with a gentle tug. That meant it had jumped timing, thrashing all of the valves.


I quickly found a replacement engine and set about bolting it back in. As I was doing this, I was learning all the quirks on this over-engineered German %&@$. The more I learned, the less I wanted to install it. Research began. People had swapped in VW's legendary VR6 engines. I have friends who are very familiar with them and they can be had cheap, so I thought this was the safest route. Before beginning my spending spree, I conducted one last bit of research.


I googled "Audi LS1 swap" or some version of that. One person had done the swap in an RS6. Not the same car, but it had enough similarities to let me know this was possible. This led me to Kennedy Engineered, who produces an LS1 to 01E transmission adapter kit. Little did I know, my transmission shared a bellhousing pattern with a transaxle used in rear-engine kit cars that people put the good ole LS in. With my adapter plate and flywheel ordered, I was all in with something I'm a little more familiar with.

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