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    Thread: Front engine/transmission - rear wheel drive Caddy ideas

    1. Member
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      08-20-2020 10:19 AM #1
      I posted this question in the "swap" section of Vortex, but I don't think there is much activity there so I'll post it here.

      I'm considering a custom build with a front longitudinally mounted engine and transmission to a rear wheel drive for a Mk1 Caddy. This has been done before but I haven't seen one that fits all of my preferences. One of the initial questions to consider is choice of the major components; engine, transmission, rear end, etc. I have ruled out several things: no rear located transmission (i.e. not a Porsche 944 type of setup), no all wheel drive (rear drive only), no all wheel drive transmissions converted to rear drive only, no rear or mid mounted engine. I have not ruled out a automatic transmission provided it meets my other requirements. Some basic requirements are: prefer a lighter weight more compact drivetrain, able to withstand some abuse (e.g. big smokey burnouts, drifts, etc), and extremely low cost. I'd like to find something that's readily available and relatively easy to swap in (generally speaking, I realize any swap is a lot of work).

      Any suggestions for drivetrain options on such a build?

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      08-20-2020 10:24 AM #2
      I think a 2wd Toyota pickup setup would be easy to get running and they make kits for the transmissions to Vw engines just need to find a 22re 2wd with a blown head gasket

    4. Member Bad Rabbit Habit's Avatar
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      08-20-2020 10:51 AM #3
      Cheap and reliable? Miata drivetrain. My buddy has done 6 different rwd vws

      Corrado with 1.8t, 944 drivetrain
      Caddy with turbo g60, a4 drivetrain, fox firewall/steering/knuckles
      Rabbit midengine, vrt
      Rabbit VRT, miata subframes, cd009, ford thunderbird 8.8
      Caddy LS, 4l80e, narrowed Ford Explorer 8.8
      Caddy, miata drivetrain including motor, welded bodies together(bad idea, just use the subframes)

      One of the biggest issues is the steering rack. Either you flip side to side the steering knuckles to make it front steer with a different rack, or you bring over a whole subframe and knuckles from the donor.

      Here is a feature on the LS and VRT http://www.speedhunters.com/2020/02/...pean-sleepers/

      I helped a little on most of them and took not enough pictures to post on the ‘gram. You can scroll through Instagram.com/badrabbithabit for some ideas, tire smoke.
      -Jon
      ig:badrabbithabit Formerly known as: monoaural

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      08-20-2020 11:40 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Jeff View Post
      ....extremely low cost....
      Not happening. VW already has a pretty light drive train I cannot see that you can make it lighter. Sure, there may be some aluminum blocks around, but VW has those too.

      If you really think about this, it's one heck of a project and you should never start a project with limited time or money. It's a sure way to end up as future Harbor Freight tools.

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      08-21-2020 05:42 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by DeadInside View Post
      I think a 2wd Toyota pickup setup would be easy to get running and they make kits for the transmissions to Vw engines just need to find a 22re 2wd with a blown head gasket
      This is along the lines of what I was thinking. One advantage to this is the solid rear axle is almost the right width (no need to narrow it) and would be easy to convert into the Caddy's chassis (compared to a IRS). Although it might be more cost effective to buy a Toyota with a good engine and just use it in the swap. Those 8V VW to Toyota trans adaptors are as costly as a complete running/driving Toyota truck.

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      08-21-2020 05:47 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by Bad Rabbit Habit View Post
      Cheap and reliable? Miata drivetrain. My buddy has done 6 different rwd vws

      Corrado with 1.8t, 944 drivetrain
      Caddy with turbo g60, a4 drivetrain, fox firewall/steering/knuckles
      Rabbit midengine, vrt
      Rabbit VRT, miata subframes, cd009, ford thunderbird 8.8
      Caddy LS, 4l80e, narrowed Ford Explorer 8.8
      Caddy, miata drivetrain including motor, welded bodies together(bad idea, just use the subframes)

      One of the biggest issues is the steering rack. Either you flip side to side the steering knuckles to make it front steer with a different rack, or you bring over a whole subframe and knuckles from the donor.

      Here is a feature on the LS and VRT http://www.speedhunters.com/2020/02/...pean-sleepers/

      I helped a little on most of them and took not enough pictures to post on the ‘gram. You can scroll through Instagram.com/badrabbithabit for some ideas, tire smoke.
      Most of the conversions on that list don't fit my requirements, but they sound fun. I saw the Speedhunter article on the LS Caddy awhile back, it was one of the inspirations to possibly do something similar to mine. But LS engines have become way too costly these days. I've never had anything to do with a Miata so have no idea what is possible with them. But I'm thinking they won't offer near enough power to do the stupid things I have planned?

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      08-21-2020 06:00 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by Butcher View Post
      Not happening. VW already has a pretty light drive train I cannot see that you can make it lighter. Sure, there may be some aluminum blocks around, but VW has those too.

      If you really think about this, it's one heck of a project and you should never start a project with limited time or money. It's a sure way to end up as future Harbor Freight tools.
      Mark, as you know I am on the same page as you when it comes to doing things right and the costs involved to do that. But not in this case. This is not my usual build level. This is a throw away pile of crap to abuse and discard when it explodes. So I would merely slap things together without concern for how its done or how it lasts. A complete different mind set. Something to make Harbor Freight look like the best tools in the world.

      When I said a lightweight drivetrain I didn't necessarily mean lighter than the VW's. But just not one that weighs a ton, like a huge cast iron American V8 with a huge cast iron trans and massive rear end.

      And when I said relatively easy to build I meant things like the solid rear axle comment I made in my earlier post. By choosing the right donor vehicle it could make things much simpler to fabricate. Which is why I'm asking for ideas on what a good donor vehicle might be. There are several cheap American vehicles with front engine rear drive. But they tend to be the really heavy stuff. However it might still be the best choice unless I hear a better option.

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      08-21-2020 08:24 PM #8
      Big smokey drifting burnouts is going to take boost or cubic inches, neither of which will be extremely low cost...
      It's hard for me to know exactly what these things cost me. I'm guessing a LOT, but I like them, so that's that.

    11. Member Slave2theBunny's Avatar
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      08-21-2020 10:49 PM #9
      I second the toyota drivetrain idea, I grew up in the Philippines seeing toyota and mitsubishi drivetrains installed into generic copies of army jeep frames with a tape measure and a stick welder on almost a daily basis and they drive these things at crazy speeds. Only thing I never liked was the solid front axles with old school pitman arm drag link style steerings. Crappy turn circles. Forget about parallel parking. Lol

    12. Member Bad Rabbit Habit's Avatar
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      08-22-2020 08:48 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by echassin View Post
      Big smokey drifting burnouts is going to take boost or cubic inches, neither of which will be extremely low cost...
      Stock 1.8 Miata power:
      https://youtu.be/z4gBHozhvCc

      The brown truck (maple bar) is exactly your idea to fruition. To get the ride height with the rear subframe, we had to chop up the bed. A minitruck rear end would be easier. Either a Lincoln locker, or find one with an LSD.

      Most of the RWD projects started with: “Gonna to do this with stuff lying around” and ended up “welp, that’s a lot of money.” But my buddy has a lot of free time, and gets stir crazy.

      The 3sge BEAMS motor is an interesting one. 200 na hp and a six speed for under 2k.
      -Jon
      ig:badrabbithabit Formerly known as: monoaural

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      08-22-2020 08:58 AM #11
      My buddy gave me a Toyota Corolla that I traded for this and it came with two 20vt engines a rotisserie and two titles it’s a 1982 Rabbit with a b6 a4 Quattro multipiece floorpan drivetrain subframes swap it’s 5 sp longitudinal 20vt torsen 4 Quattro awd for free the rear 2020 Porsche Macan led lightbar came from the trash at a VW dealership cheap is possible but you just gotta wing it all plans are expensive to follow




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      08-22-2020 10:50 AM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by Bad Rabbit Habit View Post
      Stock 1.8 Miata power:
      https://youtu.be/z4gBHozhvCc
      I stand corrected!
      It's hard for me to know exactly what these things cost me. I'm guessing a LOT, but I like them, so that's that.

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      08-22-2020 01:21 PM #13
      Lots of great discussion on this, thanks. I posted the same question in another section of Vortex with zero response, and on another forum (for a different make of car) and got nearly zero. So you guys seem to "get it" more than most.

      A couple of thoughts on some suggestions. I looked into the Toyota BEAMS engine and 5-sp trans as sold by those JDM importers. That would be a good a basis and actually not a bad deal. Although by the time you add the the rear end and other extra items needed to make that a complete drivetrain, you could have bought a good running donor car for considerably less - and get all of that plus a lot of other little bits that you'll need. I'm not saying one approach is better than the other, just different pros and cons for each. I think it might come down to what you happen to find for sale locally. Sometimes amazing deals come up that can make the difference.

      Something like a Toyota truck seems to be a good option so far. I've looked on the local Craigs List a couple times to see what's around. Toyota trucks seem to be asking a bit of a premium price here compared to some other cheap vehicles. This area still has a lot of ranch/horse type properties so domestic full sized pickups are very common and very inexpensive to get. But I think their drivetrains are larger and heavier than ideal. Also Mustangs with the 5.0 are plentiful and cheap, but same comment as full sized trucks. The mid sized "domestic" trucks (I say domestic in quotes because not all of them are made here) are easier to get than Toyotas. However to be honest I've never been a domestic vehicle fan so I really don't know that much about their engines. Any of them good for such use?

    16. Member Slave2theBunny's Avatar
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      08-22-2020 08:21 PM #14
      nissan drivetrains from those importers are another option, the engines that go in to the "silvia S13, S14. S15" series of jdm cars, in north america they're sold under the nissan 180sx, 240sx, good thing about the jdm versions is that most of them are turbocharged oem.

      nissans would probably be cheaper than the toyotas, and they're not as heavy as the 5.0, all 4 cyl inline.

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      08-23-2020 11:55 AM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by Slave2theBunny View Post
      nissan drivetrains from those importers are another option, the engines that go in to the "silvia S13, S14. S15" series of jdm cars, in north america they're sold under the nissan 180sx, 240sx, good thing about the jdm versions is that most of them are turbocharged oem.

      nissans would probably be cheaper than the toyotas, and they're not as heavy as the 5.0, all 4 cyl inline.
      Thanks. I'll have to look again, but when I was scanning through the available engines from a couple of those JDM importers they didn't have anything available for the Nissan "SX" cars. I assume it's due to their popularity for drifting, and the resultant damage drifting does to engines. That crowd likely buys all of the JDM engines and trans they can get, but I don't know. However without any in stock I wasn't able to see any prices either.

      I have the notion that buying a complete donor car might be the best approach though. That way you get all the little stuff needed; like clutch hydraulics, wire harness, ECU, shift linkage, fittings, etc. Those small things certainly add up. There are plenty of import 4-cyl engines with aluminum block/head that would be light and compact, but naturally most of them are for front wheel drive applications. Two problems with that; finding a rear drive transmission that mates it (without the added cost of adaptors), and changing things to make it function correctly when turned longitudinal (oil pan/pick up, etc). But I would prefer a smaller engine (e.g. not a V8) to make the install simpler.

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      08-23-2020 01:42 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Jeff View Post

      I have the notion that buying a complete donor car might be the best approach though. That way you get all the little stuff needed; like clutch hydraulics, wire harness, ECU, shift linkage, fittings, etc. Those small things certainly add up.
      I'll second that.
      It's hard for me to know exactly what these things cost me. I'm guessing a LOT, but I like them, so that's that.

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      09-16-2020 09:45 AM #17
      All you gotta do is what the Toyota guys do to the straight axel trucks except you start with a caddy so swap in a Toyota trans hooked to a VW tdi engine on mechanical injection and a wastegated turbo leave the front suspension and steering as is in your caddy then swap the rear axel and figure out longitudinal mounts for the engine and trans then get a driveshaft made


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    20. Member Bad Rabbit Habit's Avatar
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      09-16-2020 02:53 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by DeadInside View Post
      All you gotta do is what the Toyota guys do to the straight axel trucks except you start with a caddy so swap in a Toyota trans hooked to a VW tdi engine on mechanical injection and a wastegated turbo leave the front suspension and steering as is in your caddy then swap the rear axel and figure out longitudinal mounts for the engine and trans then get a driveshaft made


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      Except the steering rack would be going right through the bellhousing.
      -Jon
      ig:badrabbithabit Formerly known as: monoaural

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      09-16-2020 02:55 PM #19
      Well it would serve you right for listening to somebody who hasn’t finished the awd swap they have been messing with for a year lol


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      09-16-2020 03:03 PM #20
      I do know for sure there’s a guy on the kubvan forums website that was doing a mtdi rwd kubvan with Toyota trans and axel so if the op wanted to check that out for useable info or try and contact that guy he could probably help


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      09-16-2020 05:18 PM #21
      Why not move the fwd driveline to the rear,
      And move the driver seat inside the engine bay.
      A forward control caddy.

      Makes about as much sense as a rwd

      The only rwd caddy I approve of is one with a turbo diesel up front, and an electric drive on the rear.

      Silent burnouts, thousand mile range...
      smiles per gallon in a tdi rabbit are unreal

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