The Syncro Registry contains rare and interesting syncros from around the world - Over 900 Syncros Registered - Direct Link to The Syncro … [Read More...]
We all know that the stock T-3 Wasserboxer 2.1 petrol engine is underpowered. The WBX can be modified to make it perform modestly, viagra viagra but noticeably, best cialis remedy better without giving up reliability. But let’s face it, the WBX will always feel underpowered compared to modern cars no matter what you do to it. For some, this is really not a problem. The engine is adequate, and even fun with a little tweaking and the right gearing. For others, however, an engine conversion to a more powerful unit is the only solution. The most popular conversions are to Subaru, VW I-4, Audi 5 cylinder, or TD or TDI diesel engines. The Subaru engines are now the most popular conversion in the US. Diesel conversions are more popular in Europe, but are catching on in the US.
The Wasserboxer. The 2.1 WBX is a horizontally opposed engine that delivers a nice, smooth and broad power band with good torque at low RPMs. It’s a reliable engine if maintained to spec and if preventative maintenance is performed. Fuel injection wear items like the airflow meter, the O2 sensor, the temp II sensor, and the idle switch must be replaced at some point after 90,000 miles. Water pumps should be replaced every 50,000 miles. Use only OEM filters, fluids and parts.
Despite its positive attributes, the WBX is definitely under powered. Some shops offer souped up
2.1 WBX engines that boast significant horsepower increases, but there have been more than a few reports of reduced reliability in some of these engines, so do your research before buying. As a general rule, the more tweaked an engine is, the less reliable it is, and often the power band is narrowed toward the top RPM range rather than broadened toward the bottom, as would be preferred with a syncro.
Modest improvements in performance can be obtained without
reliability. Balancing the flywheel and clutch can
greatly increase smoothness. Ceramic coating the heads
prevents leaky gaskets resulting from corrosion and
combustion temperatures for better breathing. Ceramic coating the headers
does the same. If the engine is torn down for
rebuild, the pistons crowns should also be ceramic coated. A free-flowing
muffler (Part Number 17783, some minor mods
necessary) and air filter will
also help improve breathing. 1.25
ratio rockers are used by some in pursuit
of improved low rpm torque.
Chrome molly push rods help lighten the valve train. (There was a
modified ECU chip available for a while, but it narrowed
the power band, with a resulting loss of power at the bottom end and an
at higher RPMs (4000+).)These
make the WBX smoother, externally cooler running,
noticeably perkier and more fun to drive. Performance can be
further enhanced by slightly lowering the gearing. Lowering
gearing modestly broadens the power band, increases
the available power at any given RPM and increases acceleration.
This translates into a slightly quicker van that can pull
hills better without as much down shifting, but one which loses roughly
4 MPH in cruising speed at the top. You can still cruise at 70
MPH on the interstates, but gas mileage will suffer. For dirt
roads, secondary roads and two-lane highways, however, the gearing is
much improved. A syncro with a WBX and geraing thus tweaked will
perform adequately and be enjoyable to drive for many if not most
syncronauts. Of course, it will not have the power of a good
The VW Vanagon Westfalia is nearly perfect for our every
need except for its ability to climb even modest grades at speeds traveled by the owners of almost every auto built over
the last 40 years. Because of this and the perceived poor engineering by some, many Vanagon owners have experimented with other
People have installed American V6 and V8s,
Porsche flat 6s, Mazda Rotarys, many variations on the VW in line four
(both gas and diesel), several Subaru and even electric motors!
The mainstays of the Vanagon engine community, however, are the Subaru,
the VW inline four and the VW diesel engines.In my
many years of experience doing conversions, I have found
the Subaru engine to be the best choice. First, it is
a very good fit. This engine is a boxer engine that is almost
identical in size and weight to the Vanagon engine (4 cylinder
engines). Moreover, a modified oil pan with
satisfactory oil capacity can be utilized to maintain
stock ground clearance, which is very important to
syncro owners. And there is no need to modify the
engine hatch lid.
Second, the engine performs very well. Since boxer motors of all types
are inherently balanced and Subaru engines use a counterweighted
crankshaft, they run very smoothly. The engine is so balanced that it
happily turns 6500 rpms with no problems. They are also
powerful. The least powerful of all the Subaru engines used in
Vanagons, the EJ22, puts out 130 hp. More importantly, and unlike
the in-line VW conversions, it has 80% of its available torque at 2000
rpm, which is especially important in a syncro. And with the range of
Subaru engines that will fit in a Vanagon, you can get up to 250 hp out
of a stock motor if you so desire.
Finally, the Subaru engines have superior technology and construction. These engines have a
very stout water pump and timing belt which show almost no discernible
wear at 100k miles. These are the same parts that have long been
problematic on VW engines. Subaru engines also use five full size
main bearings, four valves per cylinder and a much better engine
management system than VW. They have distributor less ignition and
continuous drive belts instead of v belts. Parts availability
should also be a factor in any conversion. Subaru parts are very
available everywhere in the US.
Ah yes, there must be some drawbacks, aren’t there? Of course. A Subaru conversion will take
longer to get done that an in line 4 VW which can be done in a little a
day or two. Any Subaru conversion takes at least 40 hours of work. Also
the Subaru is quite a bit more technically challenging for the
do-it-yourselfer than some other conversions. Cost is also a
factor. In most instances a Subaru conversion will cost more than a VW
gas engine conversion, but significantly less than a TDI conversion.What
about Diesel? The question of gas vs. diesel is best answered by
asking what you want most from you Vanagon. First let me say that no
diesel engine currently running in any Vanagon (including TDI) has the
performance to accelerate like a Subaru powered Vanagon. Driving
any diesel vehicle is an acquired taste. The diesel Vanagon will
undoubtedly get better fuel economy. But the TDI engine does not
fit under the Vanagon deck lid and may pose emissions certification
on where you live
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Conversion List started by Warren Chapman is an excellent resource.
There are many
advantages to a TD or TDI diesel conversion for a syncro. The
modern diesel engines put out tremendous amounts of torque at low RPM,
get about 30% better gas mileage and can cruise all day at 70+
MPH. There are downsides, though. First is cost. At a
minimum, it is about 20% more expensive to do a TD or TDI
conversion. There are few shops set up to do them. And it
is a daunting do-it-yourself job. In addition, the diesels do not
accelerate as well as some of the gas conversions. Some diesel
conversions vibrate and are noisy. And passing emissions
standards can pose hurtles in states like California. But still,
a properly done TDI conversion is an appealing option if you can afford
Here are photos of Stew’s (UK) TDI
conversion performed by Brend
Jaeger in Germany. Stew and his wife stopped by for a visit
on their trip from Argentina to the Arctic Ocean in Alaska.