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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, folks. Noob, here. Just bought a Thunder Ranch 550 Spyder & had a bad idea (my favorite kind):

Can you install a modern VW diesel engine (ala Top Gear's "Project Sipster")? In a 550? Has anyone tried?

I'm aware of the many reasons NOT to do this, but is it POSSIBLE? A 1300 lb car + a motor that pulls 40MPGs in a 3000 lb Jetta has to be good for at least decent gas mileage, right? If a watercooled Sube WRX engine, will work, why not a diesel? Tom @ Thunder Ranch told me it could be done... with a little creativity in the motor mounts/half shafts dept.

I'm no mechanic so I reserve the right to be wrong about everything.

But if If anyone can, I'm hiring :)

2 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Lot of bright folks on these forums. *Doesn't surprise me.

Here are my project notes, so far...

goal: 100 MPG

Rabbit diesel
1.6L from Quantum
2.0L 140HP TDI from '04-'05 Passa
Subaru boxer diesel (import)
VW Lupo 1.3L *(import)
Merc Smart Diesel (?)

5spd Passat FWD
From whatever car the engine is from

Griffin alum.


MoT1, Pat Dolan, etc.
Yup, I'm running now with dual Honda rads in front of the front wheels, and it cools fine. I did a month-long, 8600 mile coast to coast trip in February this year. If you're interested, you can see my trip blog here: http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/vonbondo/*

RE: Kennedy Eng. -- Keep in mind that they offer the option of the 50 degree slant mounting as used in the Vanagon. You would need some Vanagon engine bits (oil pan, etc.) to make it work, but it would keep the engine low. That would work with either a swing or IRS Bug gearbox.

Another way to go full IRS would be with a VW water cooled gearbox. Transverse engine with a Rabbit/Golf/Jetta driveline (any series), or Quantum/Audi/Passat driveline for an in-line layout. More fab-work for sure, but the advantage to this would be 5 speed boxes and diesel-friendly ratios.

MoTheDiesel, basjoos
converted a 316 to 1.6L TDI from a Quantum. Used motorcycle radiators behind headlights.

didget69, hstrecht65, BL3Manx
Rabbit diesel would fit Beetle transaxle with least trouble. *Need to fab exhaust & stash radiator somewhere. *Here's the adapter to make it work:
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