One of the best manual transmissions ever brought to market was the closed six-speed in the first generation Audi R8. This silky-smooth, self-driving warrior departed into the afterlife with the introduction of the second-generation car in 2015, replaced by a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. But if money can resurrect whole, long-dead car brands, there shouldn’t be a problem with a few bits of metal in a bell jar, right? It won’t, as long as there’s a well-heeled customer on one side, Underground Racing on the other, and a 2020 Audi R8 Decennium in the middle. Oh yeah, and some turbos.
The Dallas-based customer owned one of 222 R8 Decennium special editions produced by Audi to commemorate a decade of 5.2-litre V10 and motorsport success – only 50 of the cars made it to America, each producing 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. He requested a twin-turbo kit from Underground Racing, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the shop that specializes in R8 and Lamborghini builds. While they were working on the back of the car, he also had them swap that dual-clutch for a manual. The result is a twin-boosted V10 with 1,500 horsepower and six hand-chosen forward gears. Underground race told Road & Track they started with the gearbox from a 2012 Audi R8 and reworked it with custom parts to fit it, handle the power and be usable every day. The task also involved installing a JRR engine management system to drive the reconfigured transmission.
Inside the cabin, UR has removed the boxy section that houses the seven-speed dual-clutch shifter, replacing it with what looks like a custom-made door giving off Ferrari vibes. It’s quite nice. Curiously, the R8 retains its paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. UR says these paddles have been fitted with “anti-roll lag”, as well as “launch control, drift mode, etc.” More and more curious. The R8 Decennium was completed with tweaks like a custom billet intake and custom finished centerlock wheels that mimic those of the Huracán Performante,
With a six-speed conversion done, UR says it’s ready to do the same for any other manual-looking R8 owners, but the swap can only be added to a twin-turbo kit. That means spending at least $49,000 on the Base Twin Turbo system that takes an R8 up to 800 horsepower on 93 pumps of gas, before adding the cost of manual transmission jobs. Underground Racing says it will release pricing for the six-speed manual kit soon, and we’re guessing the new gearbox will be included in UR’s two-year, 24,000-mile warranty for peace of mind as well as the power and good shifting.
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