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4T : Feature Cars

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19 October 2012


It all started with a photo posted on Facebook. At least that’s when it blipped on our radar. A friend who’s a manager at Volkswagen posted a shot of a matte grey R8, likely one of the first examples of Audi’s new Exclusive Selection Edition R8s, casually parked in the back lot of Audi of America’s headquarters in Herndon, Virginia. A week later we’re in Virginia to photograph this recent addition to the Audi of America executive fleet and shortly after detonating our own social media photo bomb on Instagram, an eagle-eyed reader points out that the car is wearing a V10 badge even though V10 examples are supposed to be white. Good point.

As we sat pruning and editing photos from that day, we began looking even closer at the car. The rush of that afternoon in DC, trying to find a location and then trying to get the shots while the light was just so left us not really stopping to take it all in. The R8 in question was a V10 and painted matte Daytona Grey like the planned V8s. It didn’t add up. And while the car did have Exclusive Selection Edition kit like the red brake calipers and R8 GT taillights, it didn’t have the two-tone red and black seats of the limited edition V8s. We were even more curious, and to put it all in context maybe we need to back up a few decades.

 

There was once a day in America when, if you knew the right order codes, you could spec very intensely cool and unique configurations of muscle cars by just placing the right letter and number combinations on the order form. Much like the word-of-mouth menu at In-N-Out, you had to be very familiar with the system in order to be able to order the car or get your burger “Animal Style”… and this was well before the days of the internet when such insider info could be readily gleaned from a good discussion forum. While having it a secret way at In-N-Out is still very much a reality, today’s world of automotive streamlined production doesn’t lend itself well to this sort of thing and even domestic muscle cars come in far fewer flavors and with few secret codes from which to benefit.

When you consider the positioning of the thoroughly modern Audi R8, days of yore special ordering start to come back into focus just a bit. Given the lower volumes and higher prices of the car, the standard order form has plenty from which to choose and that’s before you even consider Audi Exclusive. The Exclusive Selection Edition R8s go one step further than even Audi Exclusive when it comes to kit by packaging equipment like custom seats, new red brake calipers, matte paint or uniquely finished R8 GT style wheels to help further differentiate just 50 production cars between V8 and V10. Going further was possible because Audi of America was able to place an order for 50 units (30 V10s and 20 V8s).

 

What you see here though… while on first inspection may appear as if it’s just one of these limited editions, in the end it is decidedly different. What you see here is a one-off… a factory one-off that will eventually be sold to a lucky owner as one hell of a Certified Pre-Owned model after it sees duty in the Herndon executive fleet.

According to one source, the numbers for the limited series were so low that Audi of America didn’t want to pull from this group when it ordered this car. However, Audi’s U.S. arm did want a car that was essentially a mockup and one where they could live with a matte paint finish and get a better understanding of how this new configuration compares with more traditional gloss paint.

 

Visually then, this car is close to twenty other V8-powered Exclusive Selection R8 V8 coupes finished in Suzuka Grey Matte painte, with black grille and carbon fiber elements such as chin lip spoiler, rear diffusor, mirrors and sideblade. The sideblade though is the easiest way to recognize this one-off build, as it bears the bulges that are a telltale sign of a V10.

Like the special edition V8, this R8 also has titanium matte split 5-spoke wheels and bright red calipers bearing the “R8” logo. To be clear, these are a red and not an anodized red as seen on the R8 GT. Also interesting, the rear diffusor is a slightly different design than the carbon rear diffusor fitted from the factory on our 4 Season Audi R8 4.2 tester.

Other deviations from the limited edition V8 keep this car more in line with the spec of the special edition V10. V10s get the rear panel between the louvered vents painted matte black, a trick accent when combined with the matte Daytona Grey paint. Fewer black louvers at the back and black oval tailpipes are also pulled from the Exclusive Selection V10. Like both cars, this R8 also gets the R8 GT taillights – again, something you can’t order on a typical R8.

Changes are subtle but even more evident inside the cockpit. Red accents such as strips of red leather on the seats and red stitching on the steering wheel are gone on this car. Instead this R8 gets an all-black interior more similar to the special edition V10, though with accenting silver instead of white stitching. Like the Exclusive Selection V10, leather also covers the center console, again accented here with silver stitching. The steering wheel also seems fatter than the one in our 4 Season R8 V8 and identical in appearance to the limited V10, also with perforated leather in addition to the silver stitch work. Finally, the special edition V10’s white body-matched center console panel is replaced in this car by a carbon fiber equivalent. Lastly, the one-off R8 also gets the trick white on white instrument cluster from the limited edition V10.

While both manual transmission and R-tronic are available for the Exclusive Selection Edition R8 in both V8 and V10, Audi of America chose to build this one-off as an R-tronic.

We find that the most compelling aspect about this Audi of America executive fleet car is that it is a one-off original in every sense of the word. It is bespoke from the factory, but not in an loud way some have done with pink or gold paint. When you consider the great degree of care that went into the planning of the Exclusive Selection Edition series of R8s, you’ll find even more personal touches went into this car. Without the red accents on the interior, the car is more stealth than any of its special edition siblings. Best of all, it is one of simply one.

Could a motivated customer replicate this? Our contact was not ready to say no, but it’s certainly not easily done. Our best guess is that a customer with relentless will and a way (in the form of a checkbook) could maybe make a similarly bespoke R8 happen. We’ll leave that to those with the will and the way.

Check out more photos from our photo shoot in the gallery linked at the bottom. Also see a video of the car in action below.

Additional Photos

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