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    Thread: diesel vanagon engine conversion

    1. 12-26-2011 07:57 AM #1
      I'm on my third 1982 diesel westy and still looking for the "ideal" engine conversion. Initially I liked the idea of installing the 1.9 L turbo AAZ, but now leaning toward the 2.0 L ABA (Jetta/Golf) gasoline engine. My goal is to double the horspower from the 48-hp of my present 1.6 L NA diesel with a reliable replacement engine.

      At Samba I read that the 1993-94 ABA 2.0 L with a Rabbit 8-valve, 1.8 L head, and CIS fuel system is an excellent combination for my van. No reason was given for the different head though and wonder if it has to do with vertical clearance?

      I was very close to buying the Bostig Zetec conversion kit and installing it. I like the 2.0 Ford Zetec (Ford Focus) engine and vertical installation, but the lack of adequate ground clearance (8-inches) is offputting. Pity, because I even went so far as to buy a Ford focus for the engine.

      I've excluded the popular Subaru conversion for personal reasons, albeit irrational.

      I would appreciate suggestions, especially something about the Rabbit head rationale.

      Much obliged,

    2. Member az84gti's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jan 1st, 2008
      Colorado Springs CO
      FST FVEE, MK2 FSP. 2x 1.8t Vanagons
      12-27-2011 09:12 AM #2
      The 2.0 ABA has a crossflow head and the intake rises from the engine compartment. the early rabbit head has both intake and exhaust on the (Bottom side lots o clearance ) back of head. i might have a pic of the ABA head in my van. there is no way to get it under thr deck!

    3. 12-27-2011 01:07 PM #3
      Thank you for the 1.8 L Rabbit head explanation. I'd guess that there would be some hp loss with the Rabbit head, but it's bound to be overshadowed by being able to fit the engine under the lid.

      Thanks again,

    4. 12-28-2011 01:02 AM #4
      I'm no expert on these things by any means but what about a 2.0 ABA bottom end with a 1.8L Golf/Jetta (like Mk2) head? Solves the issue of the intake/exhaust and clearance while still getting you the 2.0L bottom end. I've heard of people mating Digifant 1.8L heads with 2.0L blocks into Mk2 Golfs/Jettas for a little more torquey drive, so why not maybe try that with the Vanagon?

    5. 12-28-2011 04:16 PM #5
      What you suggest is very close to what I'm looking for. Since I'll probably need to buy an entire car for the engine, I'd rather not have to buy a second one for the head, so I'm thinking that perhaps finding a Jetta/Golf with the 1.8 liter engine and CIS fuel management would be as close to a drop-in as I could find. The 1.8 liter with the CIS is engine code MZ, 90 hp, and in 1985-86 Jetta/Golfs. It's 25 less horses than the ABA 2.0, but still doubles what I now have with the 1.6 liter NA diesel.

      Unfortunately, everything I know about this is from reading and talking but no hands-on experience and nobody to talk to around here that's done this sort of thing.

      Thanks for the reply.

    6. 01-06-2012 10:02 AM #6
      I'm now actively looking for a 1983-84 vw GTI. This car has the 1.8 L engine and basic CIS manual fuel system. It can also be bored to 2.0 L.

      This engine will fit in the engine compartment of a vw vanagon with minimum modifications. I'd prefer to obtain the entire car - 1983-84 Golf/Jetta/Rabbit GTI - to be sure of having all parts necessary. The car would have to be a rust bucket or have some fatal flaws because I couldn't bring myself to trash a nice example of the marque for the engine and accessories.

      So, if anyone knows of availability of such an item I'd be most interested in hearing about it.


    7. Member
      Join Date
      Oct 29th, 2003
      01-09-2012 01:55 AM #7
      I have also seen the 30V V6 and 12V VR6 motor swaps done into a Vanagon.

    8. Global Moderator Paul@VWvortex's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 2nd, 1999
      Milk was a bad choice -- AZ
      '17 A3 E-Tron, '17 JKUR, '96 VRT Cabrio, TDi Tristar Syncro, 1980 Scirocco S "Der Ott"
      01-09-2012 10:57 AM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by zuhaelter_82 View Post
      I have also seen the 30V V6 and 12V VR6 motor swaps done into a Vanagon.
      Indeed. You can actually get a 12v VR6 under the standard Vanagon engine cover with a combination of Mk3 and Mk4 intake parts.

      If you are dedicated to the TDi conversion process in your van it is probably one of the best ways to go but is definitely expensive. If you want a complete conversion including all of the parts to complete the swap Eurospec Sport offers a complete solution or just the engine mounts, cradle mounts and the new hatch cover.

    9. Member caddyholic's Avatar
      Join Date
      Oct 30th, 2007
      Kennewick, WA
      86 Vanagon Westy, 81 Caddy, 67 bus
      01-20-2012 09:41 AM #9
      I had one of these, it had a big vavle head on it and the bottomend was a 2.0.

      it was setup to use the later CIS stuff, it was all setup to rock...then I got pissed off one year and sold everything off...dumped it for 350
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