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    Thread: best motor swap for building boosted cabriolet?

    1. Semi-n00b
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      05-05-2012 09:18 PM #1
      Hello I am New to vwvortex and vw ownership as well. Recently picked up an 86 cabriolet in great condition. Got the bug to build it up after driving it a few weeks and realizing it is kinda fun to drive. Just lacks a little on the get up and go. After dorking around on the net I have seen some interesting builds out there. Then found vwvortex. So hmmm. What is the best motor to swap out the 1.8 8v with if I plan to end up boosting? Would rather a supercharged version in the end. Also can anybody clear up exactly what motor (like ABA or something...) And trans I have?

      Currently:
      1986 karmann cabriolet (prod date 01/86)
      Stock 1.8l 8v
      Stock 5 speed
      1 1/2 inch spring drop

    2. Member LOVINandDUBBIN's Avatar
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      05-05-2012 11:40 PM #2
      ide get a OBD1 aba bottom end (from a 93-95 mk3 2l), keep your head and trans and get carbs and a cam. relativly cheap (depending on how crazy you get with it), fast, loud, tunable and super fun.

      N/A all day, you have the perfect head (JH) and trans (hopefully)... to determine what type of transmission you have, look at the numbers stamped on the bottom of the bell housing next to the oil pan. The first two or three digits indicate the transmission type, with the final five digits giving the date of manufacture in the format of DDMMY. an example is 4K17083. This signifies its a GTI "4K" transmission with a manufactured date of August 17,1983, with the 8 in 1980 implied. you can have one of a number of differnt trannys vw made and threw into thier cars, some have kick ass ratios, others do not. you can find these numbers in alot of places, or just post your code and ill get the ratios for you...

      i dont like turbos (unless they are on 16v's) and superchargers are only redaly avail for VR's and swapping one of them in a mk1 is a waste of time and money...these are motor sport cars in my eyes, not retarded unbalenced cars going down a drag strip..

      keep it fun, keep it OG.... Build that 1.8 on some carbs or ITBs and have fun

      mj

    3. Member LOVINandDUBBIN's Avatar
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      05-05-2012 11:55 PM #3
      PS- the 020 4k /9a /4y Trannys have the best gearing ratios, if you have one of thoes, with a nice head and a aba bottom your in buissness, no need for a turbo, your car weights almost nothing!

      goodluck with everything

      mj

    4. Member waterwagon's Avatar
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      05-06-2012 09:38 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by LOVINandDUBBIN View Post
      no need for a turbo, your car weights almost nothing!

      goodluck with everything
      What he said. My wife's Cabby is plenty fun with a n/a 16v in it. Is it fast? NO. Does it feel quick? YES!

      If you are truly hellbent on a turbo motor than just drop a 1.8T in it.

    5. 05-06-2012 09:39 AM #5
      let me try this.best motor swap for building boosted cabriolet.

      i would say a 1.8t motor.work is involved but best start.
      A Dutty Dub

    6. Member s2kvondeutschland's Avatar
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      05-06-2012 11:58 AM #6
      G60. Trust me, it's awesome.

      Or, 2.0 16v + turbo + Megasquirt = cheap + beastly.
      "Zed's dead, baby, Zed's dead."

      RooflessVW

    7. Semi-n00b
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      05-06-2012 01:38 PM #7
      Sounds like the n/a is the best for piece by piece build. That will last as a daily driver (except in winter).
      Here are the numbers off the trans. Ach27114.
      Here is what I think are the numbers from the head. 026103373h.

      Anything I should know about the ABA block swap? Like cooling and oil ports do they match? And what clutch pack should I go with since I'm going to be in there anyways? Also, any ideas for the carbs and header/exhaust? Hoping for input from the tried and true.

    8. Semi-n00b
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      05-06-2012 09:27 PM #8
      Also will the 2.0 block have troubles fitting in my engine bay/engine mounts?

    9. 05-06-2012 11:36 PM #9
      2.0 block fits and can use your origanal mounts
      A Dutty Dub

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      05-07-2012 07:37 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by dgafninja View Post
      Sounds like the n/a is the best for piece by piece build. That will last as a daily driver (except in winter).
      Here are the numbers off the trans. Ach27114.
      Here is what I think are the numbers from the head. 026103373h.

      Anything I should know about the ABA block swap? Like cooling and oil ports do they match? And what clutch pack should I go with since I'm going to be in there anyways? Also, any ideas for the carbs and header/exhaust? Hoping for input from the tried and true.
      ACH code is one of the best transmissions, IMO, and shows as a diesel trans with the shorter final drive, but the taller ratios for 1st-5th gears inside the trans. I even prefer the trannies with the taller final drive so I'm not cruising the down the highway at 4,000 rpm at 70mph.

      Biggest question is what do you want to do with the car? Track days? Autocross? Just drive it and enjoy it? If it runs well, now, I'd just pickup another head, have it machined a little bit, maybe bigger valves, and a decent camshaft with a good catback exhaust and I think you'll have a lot of fun with a lot less work.

    11. Member
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      05-07-2012 07:37 AM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by LOVINandDUBBIN View Post
      PS- the 020 4k /9a /4y Trannys have the best gearing ratios, if you have one of thoes, with a nice head and a aba bottom your in buissness, no need for a turbo, your car weights almost nothing!

      goodluck with everything

      mj
      And HOLY SH!T!! Mark's still alive!!

    12. Semi-n00b
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      05-07-2012 09:51 AM #12
      Making a faster daily driver that can hit the track for fun in the weekends. Still wanna romp on those Hondas round town. But the biggest reason is nobody round town has one and its the current platform I have to work with. I am a mechanic by trade so the work is not that big of deal for me. It's a bang for buck issue on the motor build. Having a hard time finding carbs for it though. Found TT though. So I know where I'm getting everything else.

    13. Member rix337's Avatar
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      05-07-2012 03:20 PM #13
      Although I have never tried it, I have heard by a few that trying to swap in the 1.8T is a BIG hassle. However, I do have a little experience doing the ABA lower end and a few things you will need are a hose extension for the small hose going vertically in front of the motor for the added height of the block, a different downpipe and exhaust mani which you can get the dp from techtonics tuning, exh mani from junk yard or classifieds. DP for the added height, and the mani because TT does not make a single inlet dp for this conversion sothe mani has to go. Also, the timing belt cover does not fit perfectly, but it will stay on there with a small space on the bottom. Also, you have to put a cover on the front of the block where a hole is and I cannot remember what that was about, Near where the oil filter assembly goes.

      On the flip side, I have heard the G60 is an awesome swap, but I have no experience with that one. I bet it will fly with it though.
      Tuco, there are two kinds of people in this world...the ones with loaded guns, and the ones who dig. You dig. - Eastwood

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    14. Member riddie's Avatar
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      05-07-2012 05:40 PM #14
      An AEB 1.8T from early B5 Passats is kinda the pinnacle of 1.8t's due to the big valves and the fact it will pretty much plug in to the bay. Wiring it seems to be another story, but I suck at electrical haha.
      See: http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...light=day+swap

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      05-07-2012 05:54 PM #15
      Carbs are easy, Bike carbs, Webers, just need to choose the platform. Counterflow, crossflow (ABA), or 16V? Keep your local emissions regulations in mind while planning things. Here's the link to the bike carb thread on here:

      http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...res-a-write-up!

      And here's a teaser pic of the kind of setup you can wind up with on an ABA on my '82 Cabby project:


    16. Semi-n00b
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      05-07-2012 08:47 PM #16
      So let me confirm this. The project in the picture is an 8v head, ABA block, trans from Mk1 golf/cabby, and Weber bike carbs? (I'm guessing the cam also. Do anything with the valves or springs?) No cylinder or rod mods in the block? Im guessing the .2 liter extra displacement is actually quite a kick in such a light car. Thanks for help on the carbs. I was having a rough time finding some. And if I needed to hold off on the carbs but build the rest, the stock intake with maybe some better flow from a mod air box would be okay? Done plenty of motor swaps but never a performance build, always oe stuff since I'm a mechanic at a full service shop. Can't wait to get going on this build!

    17. 05-08-2012 12:13 AM #17
      vr6

    18. Semi-n00b
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      05-08-2012 12:30 AM #18
      So im realizing that these carb setups i am seeing are on the 16v head. Anybody done the aba block swap with a built 8v head? Or should i scrap any ideas with the 8v and just do a full aba and 16v head swap??? Im going to have to do this bit by bit all while driving daily till the next stage.

      Plans so far
      STAGE1:
      Repalce stock cam with 270 from TT (still unsure if doing valves and springs or not...)
      Configure intake with larger bore and TB
      Covert rear drums to disc
      Add sway bars and strut bars

      STAGE2:
      ABA block swap keeping built head from previous stage
      Upgrade clutch
      Stiffer motor/trans mounts

      STAGE3 (cosmetics):
      Delete trim
      Add body kit from 90's cabby
      Sand, Primer and Paint

      Any Input???

    19. Member riotbeast's Avatar
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      05-08-2012 08:40 PM #19
      only go vr6 if you want to have a serious build....its a lot of work....a LOT of work , if you dont care so much about being stupidly fast or out their go for the carbs....its really the most sane and the best way to utilize what you already have.

    20. Semi-n00b
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      05-09-2012 01:24 AM #20
      Wow... That vr6 build looks intense. For my first project I think I will stick with an ABA build. But props to you on all that work. Honestly my fab skills are lacking for that much cut and weld.

    21. Member s2kvondeutschland's Avatar
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      05-09-2012 03:40 AM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by dgafninja View Post
      Wow... That vr6 build looks intense. For my first project I think I will stick with an ABA build. But props to you on all that work. Honestly my fab skills are lacking for that much cut and weld.

      EW has a VR6 mk1 kit that's on sale. It's a bolt in affair and makes the swap easy, but you need about a g for the mounts alone, which is more than what my car and G60 swap cost... Different strokes I guess.
      "Zed's dead, baby, Zed's dead."

      RooflessVW

    22. Member riotbeast's Avatar
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      05-09-2012 09:31 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by s2kvondeutschland View Post
      EW has a VR6 mk1 kit that's on sale. It's a bolt in affair and makes the swap easy, but you need about a g for the mounts alone, which is more than what my car and G60 swap cost... Different strokes I guess.
      I really couldnt see anyone buying that kit.... If you enjoy the occasional pushing your car i do not see the OE mounting points good enough.... And as you mentioned it is a grand for their low end kit

    23. Semi-n00b
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      05-10-2012 02:54 PM #23
      Yeah at 1000 bucks for mount setup or days of fab work to mount a vr6 I think I'm going stick with a 4cyl build. I still can't find any info on the oil and cooling passages lining up with the 8v head and an ABA block. (But I could be looking in the wrong areas.) Before I build I wanna make sure I have most of it planned out. At least the block swap and what build on the head. Carbs and fuel delivery will come later and some threads posted above have some dang good info for the carb setups. Even got a buddy with carbs kicking it in his garage. Also, did anybody have clearance problems with 17s wrapped in 205/40r17 rubber with a 1&1/2 inch spring drop?

    24. Member CajunSpike's Avatar
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      05-10-2012 03:18 PM #24
      I distinctly remember reading something that the oil passages do line up..and that you had to use a certain head gasket for it to work.....

      Read up.

      http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...42-ABA-JH-Swap

    25. 05-10-2012 03:33 PM #25
      curious as to why you're wanting to waste your time doing a half swap 8v with a counterflow head?

      full aba swap would be the way to go and you can easily do a mild turbo setup on that platform with better power gains vs a counterflow head with older FI. not to mention that when you're ready to step up you can go to a 16v head on a nice standalone system and see some real nice hp numbers.

      half swaps are more trouble then they are worth when retaining the outdated fuel injection and head setup. no counterflow setup on older cis is going to touch the hp numbers and reliability of a cross flow head on newer efi.

    26. 05-10-2012 04:44 PM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by A1steaksauce View Post
      curious as to why you're wanting to waste your time doing a half swap 8v with a counterflow head?

      full aba swap would be the way to go and you can easily do a mild turbo setup on that platform with better power gains vs a counterflow head with older FI. not to mention that when you're ready to step up you can go to a 16v head on a nice standalone system and see some real nice hp numbers.

      half swaps are more trouble then they are worth when retaining the outdated fuel injection and head setup. no counterflow setup on older cis is going to touch the hp numbers and reliability of a cross flow head on newer efi.
      Isn't there A LOT of rewiring to do if you do a full aba swap?


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    27. Member inlovewithavdubengine's Avatar
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      05-10-2012 05:10 PM #27
      I just finished putting a 2.0 block in mine, using the original computer and original heads, just a bigger block. Not sure about how the ECUs work on an '86. Is it vacuum tubes, or is there a little dinosaur in there that occasionally shrugs and says "It's a living?"

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    28. 05-10-2012 05:33 PM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by 89cabrioletmarc View Post
      Isn't there A LOT of rewiring to do if you do a full aba swap?


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      nope.

      there's many different ways to go about wiring it up, all of which are very easy. heck even Josh at Nothing Leaves Stock offers a plug and play wiring harness for this swap that only requires you to hook up a couple of wires for the motor to run.

    29. 05-10-2012 05:54 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by A1steaksauce View Post
      nope.

      there's many different ways to go about wiring it up, all of which are very easy. heck even Josh at Nothing Leaves Stock offers a plug and play wiring harness for this swap that only requires you to hook up a couple of wires for the motor to run.
      I remember reading that but couldn't find the tread again. NLS is right down the road from me. I'll have to look into it.


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    30. Semi-n00b
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      05-10-2012 09:45 PM #30
      I'm not too worried about wiring. 86 has next to nothing. A1 thanks for the heads up. Cuz that's definitely what I'm trying to achieve. As much hp per dollar as I can get. Everything's pretty readily available to do any swap besides g60. Not to many of those floating around my area unless I wanna buy the whole car. My budget is limited so I'm just trying to do what I can little by little to build a little more pep to drive around with until I can afford larger upgrades. With that said I think I've changed my mind (with knowledgeable people's help) and I'm going to do the full ABA swap. With that said I need to do some more poking around the forums to gain a little more insight and knowledge first. Finding the most examples for reliable information and tried and true lean more towards full ABA swap. A big hearty thank you to everybody steering me in the right direction on here!!!

    31. 05-10-2012 10:46 PM #31
      all the aba swap info for MK1 chassis is here:

      http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...K1-info-thread

      i think bang for the buck it's a great choice. but that doesn't mean it's the be all and end all of swaps.

      open budget and don't mind some minor fab work i'd go 1.8t swap.

      tighter budget but don't mind doing some engine work? 16v swap. on carbs

      i think playing around with the stock counterflow motor on cis isn't all bad, but just that you're gonna hit a wall really quickly with how far you can take it.

      a stock full aba swap is plenty peppy right out of the box. mild cam and performance chip will yield you nice gains. and if it's not enough for you then going with a turbo setup is easily accomplished on the oem efi. and if that's still not enough power for you then a nice 16v head with a quality standalone fi system under boost will easily make you smile

    32. Semi-n00b
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      05-11-2012 01:50 AM #32
      Yeah, unfortunately budget is an issue... Wish it wasn't but Heck who doesn't. What will probably happen is I do budget build, like it, then shortly get the fire in my pants to go further... And further until it just doesn't make sense to work on the cabby anymore and go different platform. Haha! But until then. Budget build, get some experience with Frankenstein wrench and bolt tossing, and go from there.

      That said. I wanna do the block swap Plus all needed parts. But as I enjoy this build and brainstorm the next I think I will get my hands on some harness and make the wiring harness out of car. Then when I do the bigger full ABA swap all I have is mechanical without having my ride down for a couple nights holding solder in one hand and electrical tape in the other.

      Maybe I skipped the part about knock ecu but will that be needed when I swap the block? Or can I go without? So far all I can find are bare engines (block and head nothing else) or complete vehicles with problems. While I would love to get my hands on a full parts vehicle I have no where to keep it. So I might have to piece together some of the swap one piece at a time. Ugh...

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      05-12-2012 10:34 AM #33
      My car is just a stock ABA with the R1 Mikuni carbs. Heck, it doesn't even run, yet!

      OTH, a friend of mine has done the full ABA swap into a later Digi Cabby and said he really doesn't think it was worth the extra effort. It's definitely a better platform to upgrade down the road, though, and the engine management upgrade from the CIS on the '86 would help that, also.

      A note on a 16V head on an ABA block: That is probably the one of the best motors to boost. The combination yields a nice, low, boost friendly compression ratio. Don't expect to build some kind of NA screamer with that combo without putting some serious pistons in it to bump the CR back up, though.

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