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    Thread: Ford Zetec Vanagon conversion

    1. Member
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      03-22-2008 07:57 PM #26
      Quote, originally posted by Merc-MarkO »
      I really have to disagree here. I've about 600 miles of seat time in 2 different Zetec equipped Focus. They're not that good of an engine at all.

      My dad has a ztec Focus, and for a 2.0L it always seemed rather lacking in low end compared to my old 1.8 8V MKII Golf. On top of that I get about the same millage in my 2.3L Mazda 3 (heavier car with more powerful engine and shorter gearing plus it's got much lower emissions) as my dad does in the focus. Don't get me wrong, for the $9,xxx brand new my dad payed for the Focus it's been a great and trouble free car, but the motor isn't anything to write home about imo.

      Although it is better then the VW 2.0 8v so maybe that is the appeal.

    2. Geriatric Member Chapel's Avatar
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      03-22-2008 08:03 PM #27
      Quote, originally posted by Merc-MarkO »
      I really have to disagree here. I've about 600 miles of seat time in 2 different Zetec equipped Focus. They're not that good of an engine at all.

      how many miles do you have in a 2.1L Wasserboxer?
      sometimes it's all about comparison. They're great motors for swaps. They fit practically everything. We're doing a Zetec/Duratec 20 swap into an old Willys Jeep

    3. Member eunos94's Avatar
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      03-22-2008 08:12 PM #28
      Quote, originally posted by Merc-MarkO »
      I really have to disagree here. I've about 600 miles of seat time in 2 different Zetec equipped Focus. They're not that good of an engine at all.

      I have about 87,000 miles (combined) seat time with the lil Zetec and I have to say it's a fun and rev happy little motor. Much smoother than the Volkswagen 8V with a very nice and linear power band. It's such a vast improvement over the waterboxer that it isn't even fair to try and compare the two. Honestly the waterboxer is just junk.
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      03-22-2008 08:19 PM #29
      to me, this doesn't really have any advantage of the ej22/25 swaps, although I do know bostig is working on a supercharged version.
      Dave

    5. Geriatric Member Chapel's Avatar
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      03-22-2008 08:28 PM #30
      yeah, it is weird. the EJ22 swap seems more effective

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      03-22-2008 08:32 PM #31
      Quote, originally posted by rs4-380 »
      to me, this doesn't really have any advantage of the ej22/25 swaps, although I do know bostig is working on a supercharged version.

      Are those Subaru engine models ones that fall under the headgasket issues?
      The main thing I can think of is availability. I would bet any local bone yard would have at least few low mileage Zetecs sitting around.
      As far as fuel economy goes- it seems that manual versus auto makes a big difference. Ford's past auto trannies seem to be rather inefficient.


      Modified by BRealistic at 8:34 PM 3/22/2008
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      03-23-2008 02:28 AM #32
      Quote, originally posted by eunos94 »
      It's such a vast improvement over the waterboxer that it isn't even fair to try and compare the two. Honestly the waterboxer is just junk.

      Understatement of the decade.
      "Do you know the terror of he who falls asleep?
      To the very toes he is terrified, because the ground gives way under him, and the dream begins."
      ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    8. 03-23-2008 02:41 AM #33
      I guess I am not familiar with the intricacies of Vanagons and their wasserboxer engines.
      I suppose if the standard engine is really that horrible that a Zetec feels so much better, then I guess thats the appeal.
      Personally, I just don't see the appeal of Vanagons....

    9. Geriatric Member EK20's Avatar
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      03-23-2008 02:53 AM #34
      Quote, originally posted by Download_Complete »
      Personally, I just don't see the appeal of Vanagons....

      Just have to drive them to know. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
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    10. Member eunos94's Avatar
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      03-23-2008 05:59 AM #35
      Quote, originally posted by Download_Complete »
      Personally, I just don't see the appeal of Vanagons....

      It's an odd little vehicle it really is I will grant you that. It is shorter than your average Honda Accord yet somehow feels cavernous inside. It has all the handling prowess of a city bus (and driving position too) yet remains fun to drive.
      The sit up and beg driving position, the feeling of freedom that comes with owning such a versatile vehicle, the bread box looks, the way it trundles down the road. It all sort of slows you down and forces you to regain your perspective. It's a neat experience and one I recommend highly to anyone in need of a bit of... introspective and de-stressing.
      I still want to buy another Vanagon (this time a diesel) and take a good solid year off to do a bit of soul searching and exploring. That right there is the appeal of a Vanagon to me. I'm sure other owners will have other things they dig about them but those are my personal reasons for loving the things.
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    11. 03-23-2008 11:56 AM #36
      Quote, originally posted by eunos94 »
      It's an odd little vehicle it really is I will grant you that. It is shorter than your average Honda Accord yet somehow feels cavernous inside. It has all the handling prowess of a city bus (and driving position too) yet remains fun to drive.
      The sit up and beg driving position, the feeling of freedom that comes with owning such a versatile vehicle, the bread box looks, the way it trundles down the road. It all sort of slows you down and forces you to regain your perspective. It's a neat experience and one I recommend highly to anyone in need of a bit of... introspective and de-stressing.


      All the above for me as well. Mine is a camper that I use as a mountain bike platform, etc.
      After driving the Vanagon for awhile, I notice I don't drive my other cars as fast. Probably because 75 feels like you are actually flying in a breadbox,lol.
      [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG] [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

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      03-23-2008 04:16 PM #37
      Quote, originally posted by BRealistic »
      Are those Subaru engine models ones that fall under the headgasket issues?

      you can use pretty much any ej engine, from the 1.8 to an sti motor. Yes, the early dohc 2.5's had headgasket issues, but the later SOHC 2.5's were much better, and the 2.2's have been around in some form since the early 90's. I'm sure foci were produced in higher numbers, but given that the ej series has been produced for longer, has more variants, and was used in more vehicles, i'd venture to say it's much easier to find a subaru motor in a junkyard.
      Dave

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      03-23-2008 09:44 PM #38
      Quote, originally posted by rs4-380 »
      i'd venture to say it's much easier to find a subaru motor in a junkyard.

      ...in your area.
      Don't forget that Subarus loose most of their appeal once you get below the snow belt. The all wheel drive just means they cost more to most buyers in my area. Older Suabrus are a very rare sight here.
      Yet Zetec's have been sold since the 98 model year in Escort ZX2s, and ZX2s and later Focus models were sold in high numbers everywhere.
      “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

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      03-23-2008 10:10 PM #39
      Quote, originally posted by Download_Complete »
      Personally, I just don't see the appeal of Vanagons....

      My Vanagons are the only VWs I've owned that I miss and are the only VW I would consider owning again.




      ...sold this one after 19 years


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      03-23-2008 11:39 PM #40
      If a Zetec fits in, I believe the 2.5 duratec V6 uses the same mounts so seems one would fit in about the same. SVT Contour engine swap???
      Quote Originally Posted by Rutledge View Post
      Well, then, I'm here to "ruin" the vortex for you. I'm sorry you hate fun.
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    16. 03-23-2008 11:46 PM #41
      Quote, originally posted by B3passatBMX »
      If a Zetec fits in, I believe the 2.5 duratec V6 uses the same mounts so seems one would fit in about the same. SVT Contour engine swap???

      OKay, now we're talking.
      Lets go one better. 3.0L Duratec with the 2.5 Duratec SVT heads. 250 hp Vana-gone, anyone?

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      03-24-2008 12:53 AM #42
      Quote, originally posted by Download_Complete »
      OKay, now we're talking.
      Lets go one better. 3.0L Duratec with the 2.5 Duratec SVT heads. 250 hp Vana-gone, anyone?


      I hate to be the buzz killer at the luv fest, but an OHC V6 is going to be a lot wider than an inline four. It may not fit very well.
      And these engine swaps seem to be about making the Van a viable driver, not a performance van. I do wonder why some larger fours- like the Nissan 2.5 and Honda (accord) 2.4 haven't been used.
      “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

    18. Member VWturbonium's Avatar
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      03-24-2008 03:15 AM #43
      Quote, originally posted by BRealistic »

      I hate to be the buzz killer at the luv fest, but an OHC V6 is going to be a lot wider than an inline four. It may not fit very well.
      And these engine swaps seem to be about making the Van a viable driver, not a performance van. I do wonder why some larger fours- like the Nissan 2.5 and Honda (accord) 2.4 haven't been used.

      I know most van swaps aren't for drag racing or performance, but considering most vans will be hauling stuff I think people would be alot happier with motors like a nissan KA24 or even an old 22RE, for the price of a Zetec i think you could find some more torque-biased options out there.
      After poking around a bit, a Subaru EJ25 SOHC seems to be the best option, plenty of HP and torque for a Westy, fit in the stock engine bay like they were designed to be there, and the SOHC's don't have the HG issues like the DOHC's do.


      Modified by VWturbonium at 12:51 PM 3-24-2008

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      03-24-2008 08:56 AM #44
      There have been several Nissan 3.5 V6 conversions, Subaru Flat 4's including Turbos, TDi, Zetec, VR6, 2.0 16V, 1.8 8V and I'm sure many others.
      I like that the Subaru motors keep it a water cooled flat 4 and thusly keep the correct engine note while vastly increasing the reliability. It can even greatly increase the horsepower. I think the Zetec conversion is a goodun' and probably a lot easier for most Americans to source at their local pick a part.
      I still dream of a Diesel Vanagon Westy.... maybe one day.
      Even a stock 82 Westy Diesel is fine by me. I drove one for about 100 miles on back roads and bi ways. It was a delight. Sure it was slow but no slower than a class A motor home and certainly quicker than your average semi or school bus. It went up to 60 with ease. It just took 3x longer to get there than the average econobox. I can live with that just fine but if I can get triple the power and keep the economy (Such as the upcoming subaru diesel) Hellz Ya I'll take it.


      Modified by eunos94 at 9:00 AM 3-24-2008
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      03-24-2008 02:06 PM #45
      Quote, originally posted by BRealistic »
      ...in your area.

      fair enough. Biggest reason the zetec conversion was ruled out when I was looking is because bostig makes it non-diy compatible. you can not buy mounts/adapters seperatley, you must buy everything, including the engine, from them, which makes it much more expensive.
      Dave

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      03-24-2008 04:26 PM #46
      If you don't like the Zetec, try STi power . There are even plenty of Forresters and legacies ready to give up their EJ25t engines.
      No one has said the Zetec is the best engine on the planet. However, it was produced in high numbers across several variations, plentiful in wrecking yards, large aftermarket parts and performance support. it's also a pretty common engine in the Locost crowd.
      Losing is just a winning streak in the wrong direction -DD

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    22. Member MagicBus's Avatar
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      03-25-2008 09:55 PM #47
      I've actually seen the Zetec Vanagon in person.
      I'm a Vanagon owner of five years and we've had them in the family nonstop since 1985, so I'm decently familiar with them. In that time, we lost only one engnie to head gasket failure, and even that was at least partially due to not following the maintenance scheule. IMO - if you keep up on the maintenance, the wasserboxer is pretty reliable, though it does seem to have a shorter lifespan between rebuilds than other engines I've seen.
      The stock engine IS underpowered. That, I can't argue. For the most part, I've just adapted my driving style around it. Considering that two of the other cars I've owned in my time have been automatic Mercedes 240D's, I know I have a much higher tolerance for a slow car than most people.
      As I said, I've seen the Zetec Vanagon in person. About two years ago, I paid a visit to Jim and Brady over at Bostig Engineering and got to take a ride in a recently completed conversion.
      The van in question was, I think, an '86 or '87 with full Westfalia package, so it was heavier than a standard van. I didn't get to drive, but I rode shotgun. My impression was as such (keep in mind this was based on a single ride two years ago):

      Power: The Zetec Vanagon definitely whooped the stock wasserboxer. The van, equipped with the Zetec engine in otherwise stock form, accelerated nicely and seemed to cruise with much greater ease than the VW engine.
      Noise/vibration: One common, reported concern with using any engine other than the wasserboxer is noticable vibration, especially during acceleration. This is supposedly common with inline engines as opposed to Subaru swaps. The Zetec Vanagon was exceptionally smooth - I'd say as much as the stock Vanagon engine. Also, the engine noise did not intrude into the cabin.

      All in all, I was impressed. My stock Vanagon is still running just fine, but long term, I'm keeping the Zetec on the radar as a potential replacement.



      Modified by MagicBus at 9:57 PM 3-25-2008

    23. 03-25-2008 11:14 PM #48
      Hey Guys,
      I was sent a heads up about this thread, good attention being paid to various points, let me see if I can't hit a few more from our POV.
      Quote, originally posted by rs4-380 »
      fair enough. Biggest reason the zetec conversion was ruled out when I was looking is because bostig makes it non-diy compatible.

      The main reason we started with turnkeys was two-fold. In order to develop something as potentially complicated as an entire engine conversion which encompasses everything from mechanicals to engine management, to documentation, it is important to not allow to many variants. This is one of the primary problems with the DIY efforts. Despite being around for 12+ years, the subie guys regularly experience the same problems as guys that did conversions years ago. Some of it can be avoided by paying close attention to the info online, but even the best of us are hard pressed to not fall into some of the traps that information gaps provide. This re-discovery and re-learning both burden the DIYer, which is something that most guys(esp guys that are trying to do something like this for the very first time) in retrospect wish they could have avoided.
      In any case, by starting our development with a turnkey, we were able to both jumpstart sales because no other such turnkey existed before us, and by the same method, tightly control both development, and monitor the results. Much like software development, or any other engineering, your progress will only be as good as your utilization and control of information, as well as your ability to affect changes quickly and effectively.
      We are about to release the V2.0 version of the Bostig Conversion, the entire mounting setup, flywheel, exhaust, harness, cradle etc has all been revised based on what we were able to do with the V1.0 version. Similarly again to software we can also offer an upgrade path to first gen customers, since parts were developed to be backward compatible, and not need to be replaced en mass to upgrade to the new mounting setup etc.
      Additionally, since the conversion(and us as a company) have matured to this new level... NOW we are able to offer a DIY kit version of the conversion and really gain advantage on every aspect of the zetec. The guys that said they were unimpressed with the zetec in their focii... well I have to say I don't blame you. But you have to keep in mind that the entire implementation dramatically affects everything from perceived performance up through NVH and drivability. Drive a zetec in a caterham, a formula ford car, or indeed one of our conversions and see what you think.. it's a different ballgame. If you look at the reliability indices for the focus, the engine is the best part of the car hands down. It was one of ford's first world engine programs and they produced some 3.5 million of them.. which is more than the sum total of all FHI/subaru engine production from 1990 to 2005 across all engine families and displacements. Now production numbers alone aren't an indicator of a good program or product, but the engines are exceptional. Truly exceptional, both in their simplicity, but also in their design and manufacture.
      Ford dumped the zetec in 2004-2005 in favor of the Mazda AJ based duratec.. Cheaper to produce, and less durable, which helps in hitting their warranty marks. Keep in mind that just as sewing machine makers in the early 20th century figured out quickly, you need to design them to both last long enough... but not too long.. or you hurt yourself in sales.
      Of 40+ turnkeys we've shipped, the average price paid for an engine is $450 shipped to our door, and not one of those engines exceeded 10k miles. This could not have been achieved using any other powerplant that will fit in a vanagon.
      Basing the conversion around an engine with such massive economies of scale in both the parts infrastructure, the aftermarket, and salvage markets, it is a very low risk proposition to drive and maintain a zetec converted van. Worst case scenario is an engine failure out of warranty, which for one of our conversions is several hundred dollars for another low mileage engine, vs a couple thousand for a high mileage anything else. The lowest cost engine we bought was $160 shipped to us from a yard about an hour away, with 8k miles. It boggles my mind to think it was even worth their time to pull it and drive it to me, but I won't argue.
      It's been quite interesting developing the conversion. At first, when I first got involved, it was clear that most of the attention was paid to engine selection alone. Comparing the good/bad points of the engines usually sparked semi-religious flame wars in VW and vanagon forums far and wide... it seemed apparent though that this was not the only part of the picture. You need good engine mechanicals AND good engine management. Your only as strong as your weakest link... and this was always a very weak link in vanagons. It was also a weak link in all of the other conversion available when I first started looking at it. So we decided to address this aspect with just as much intensity as engine choice and support itself. That's why we're still the only conversion that uses brand spanking new wiring harnesses. In fact, for the 2.0 we've now increased our capabilities to instead of buying new harnesses from Ford(since they are a fraction of the cost of a new subie harness) and stripping down and re-looming, we can build the zetec harnesses from scratch, to any custom configuration we want, with all new pins, backshells, wire, routing. We designed and build them specifically for this application, again, something that no other provider is capable of(I'll brag about that one because just the time in FINDING the right contacts to try and twist the arms of people when you are dealing in such small quantities to make it possible is dangerous to your mental health)
      The fact that we also custom tune the ECU to match our hardware and application is an important distinction. This is what enables us to run any octane, have both superchargers and turbochargers as bolt on options, and run e85, and we are talking with a few people in South america that want to be able to run CNG instead of gaslline. As we develop and improve the tunes, they can be emailed, downloaded, and then reflashed via the handheld unit which also doubles as a code reader and USB interface for realtime digital dash and logging functionality. Again, the reason we are capable of doing this stems from the choice of engine, and decision to pay attention to engine management. The 2.0 will have the option of a standalone on dash tool from Auterra to display engine metrics, trip computer functionatily, and has a GPS antenna input to log both against GPS location. The playback software uses to Google earth API to playback vehicle location while you see what the ECU was doing at the time... it's the first step to my dream of aftermarket vehicle prognostics for our customers.
      The most recent development which lead to the DIY or Bostig Core conversion, is the realization that it didnt stop with engine mechanicals and engine management. The information provided and known by the operator is just as important. And this is where we can again distance ourselves from the other options. Video based assembly and instructional videos make the build really easy(a pic is worth 1000 words, NTSC video is 29.97 fps, which makes a DVD what.. a sh*tton of words ha) Also people like to pop in a DVD and learn something passively.. and the video makes it both easier for us to produce, and is really the perfect medium for transmission of complete information of such things.
      Then there's the price. Since we've gotten so much better at both development and everything else in our business as we always try to improve ourselves as our products, the DIY kit price is looking to be right around $4k, which means if you are a DIYer, you can have it into your van for under $5k. Add the stage 1 turbo to that for around $2400 and you have a maintainable, 90% brand new for your dollar, reliable torque monster that gets 20mpg if you let grandma drive it. BTW we have an EJ22 with adapter plate, cradle, flywheel, primary exhaust, and DIY harness(worthless, it's a mess) that we pulled during a re-conversion. Someone can have for $300 if they want it. For $300, that might be a good reason to do the subie. We make the same power/torque with our power tune as the subie EJ22 does, and the reason we know this is we're still the only ones that ever bothered to double check ourselves and use a chassis dyno before selling anything to anyone... but if factory crank numbers as installed in something else float your boat, so be it
      Thanks for reading,
      Jim Akiba
      Bostig Engineering

      Modified by bostig_engineering at 8:21 PM 3-25-2008

      Modified by bostig_engineering at 8:24 PM 3-25-2008


      Modified by bostig_engineering at 8:25 PM 3-25-2008

    24. Moderator rs4-380's Avatar
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      03-25-2008 11:30 PM #49
      Quote, originally posted by bostig_engineering »
      The main reason we started with turnkeys was two-fold.
      Since we've gotten so much better at both development and everything else in our business as we always try to improve ourselves as our products, the DIY kit price is looking to be right around $4k, which means if you are a DIYer, you can have it into your van for under $5k.

      I think you guys do offer a great service, as the majority of vanagon engine conversion customers do opt for the turnkey or shop-installed route.
      Again, when I decided to convert, the zetec was out of the question because there was no DIY kit. Even at 4k for the kit, it would still be out of the question for me. I realize that I am not in the majority, and I may be more comfortable doing engine swaps then other vanagon owners, but my ej25 swap cost me between 2500 and 3000 including the engine, more then I planned on spending, but still pretty good for 165hp. In addition, while again I may be in the minority, I much prefer my self-made harness over something that was assembled by someone else. From a DIY perspective, it's much easier to troubleshoot any future issues because I built the damn thing.
      Dave

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      03-26-2008 12:37 AM #50
      Quote, originally posted by rs4-380 »
      In addition, while again I may be in the minority, I much prefer my self-made harness over something that was assembled by someone else. .

      Wow. That's literally the first time I have ever heard anybody say they would rather make their own hardness over using a premade kit.
      “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

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