“So I was debating on [building] a Lambo, but then I had a chance to drive the R8 – and the performance side of the car was unreal, nothing had better handling, but the body was too tame for me,” Horan says. “Tony Stark was cruising around in R8s and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to create the car he should be driving.’”
Having grown up with a step-dad that owned a small car audio shop, Horan was used to being around custom cars and quickly made it his own hobby. “When I was growing up, it was the ‘bass era’ – loud and proud,” he describes. “Texas was always fierce with competition, so we always had to be on our “A” game to stay on top.”
Always on a budget, Horan and his friend would do all the work themselves, experiencing first hand all the headaches, long hours, blisters and the fear of being outdone that the modification process brings to the customizer. After a few years of working on small builds, Horan perfected his craft while he was growing his REcycle Kings recycling business and body kit company which he has since sold.
Soon, he was on top of both games and was ready to take his skills to new heights. Before the R8 project, he had just completed a pair of Mercedes-Benz “twins” – a widebody Mercedes SL Black Series Conversion and a widebody GL550. “Those were two sick cars that were hard to top. Both went to SEMA two years ago and crushed the show.”
With a ride fit for Iron Man on his mind, Horan sought out to find a 6-speed manual transmission R8, which is something rare to find in an R8. But once one was found at an auction, it was grind time.
Horan’s main goal with the build was to make a bespoke body kit that looked as if it should have rolled off the factory lines as a widebody. He wanted a “concept look but with a factory touch,” which made for a number of hiccups and challenges throughout the build. But Horan and his friends at Abel’s Paint and Body [San Antonio, TX] were determined to get the specific look he had in mind.
The widebody conversion added a full 10” to the width of the car, but the process wasn’t as simple as many might think. Everything had to be redone from the ground up and many parts had to be replaced with carbon fiber, including the hood, front and rear diffusers, spoilers and side blades. “Perfection is what carbon fiber is, and I wanted a lot of it,” Horan details. “Carbon fiber to a man is what diamonds are to a woman.”
But the biggest challenge was the front grille conversion. Everything that Horan kept finding still looked too aftermarket for his liking. Fortunately, he saw a friend’s A8 and found the front end look he would need complete what he was trying to accomplish. After some reworking, he finally had the perfect front end that provided that factory look.
Upon completion of the bodywork, Horan didn’t think its stock silver hue matched Iron Man’s suit and decided to transform it to an eye-catching red from PPG. Other modifications include: a Hennessey exhaust system, K&N filter upgrade and a Venom ECU upgrade with a custom turbo kit. Adding to its sleek exterior is a set of 20” Rennen Forged S6 wheels with a brush tint and gloss black lip wrapped in Hankook tires.
Because Horan needed the R8 to have a premium sound system that wouldn’t compromise interior comfort, he called on friends over at Custom Sounds (San Antonio, TX) to get a complete JL Audio system with minimal space requirements installed. Horan went with seats that feature custom-stitched Audi rings and a bit of carbon fiber for that “classy” look, as well as a carbon fiber steering wheel from DCTM to match the exterior modifications.
With more than $100k in modifications, Horan has been offered $200k for the R8, but isn’t looking to sell it. Instead, he drives the hell out of it and enjoys testing its power up against Ferraris, Lambos, Porsches and any other sports car up to a race. “This car isn’t just for show; it’s for hauling ass!” By: dubmagazine