Project Little Van - Daily Vanagon/Adventure Rig

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Yeah, 80s VWs were designed to last maybe 100k miles. The waterboxer was an abomination in my opinion. Yes is quirky and somewhat cool, but created so many more problems than it solved. Before we sold our Vanagon, I went through the numbers, and was pretty close to replacing basically everything on it, swapping to a reversed 1.8T and 5 speed trans, etc.

The real killer for us, was that the AC was almost an afterthought. Power hungry space eating monster at the back of the van. That, and 90HP for a 4,000lb van... I really loved the I4 though, Though a turbo....
 

vwhammer

Adventurer
Yeah, 80s VWs were designed to last maybe 100k miles. The waterboxer was an abomination in my opinion. Yes is quirky and somewhat cool, but created so many more problems than it solved. Before we sold our Vanagon, I went through the numbers, and was pretty close to replacing basically everything on it, swapping to a reversed 1.8T and 5 speed trans, etc.

The real killer for us, was that the AC was almost an afterthought. Power hungry space eating monster at the back of the van. That, and 90HP for a 4,000lb van... I really loved the I4 though, Though a turbo....
I absolutely agree. The water boxer should have never been.
Why VW didn't install the inline gas engines the moment that they set the Vanagon up to run the inline diesel engine is beyond me.
The eight valve VW 4 cylinders are arguably the most robust and reliable engines that VW ever made and were not far off the HP numbers that the waterboxers were making for the same years.

My van is one of the lighter versions that was available but it still makes me laugh that they would put an engine that only made 94 hp or something like that in a van that will weigh at least 3500 lbs and will likely be pushing way more with a full load of people and stuff.

I look at it this way.
look how excited I am about swapping my waterboxer and going from an engine that made 94hp to one that might make 140hp if I am lucky.
This van should have been making at least 150 to begin with and the transaxles should have also been equipped to deal with such power.
For the Record the autos in the vanagon are way better at dealing with extra power than the manuals are.
If I wanted a manual I would not even think about a stock rebuild.
I would go right to the Subaru gears 5 speed swap or the reverse 1.8t and 5 speed

It will not be installed initially but I am working on parts (exhaust stuff primarily) to install a turbo on the ABA that's in my van to hopefully get me to the 170 or 180hp mark and help out a lot more at higher altitudes.

As for AC I have a totally off the wall set up in mind that hopefully does not suck.
I will cover that part when I get there.
 
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Having owned 4 VWs in my time (for me, more than any other single brand that I've owned), simple is not ever a word I would use to describe them. Over-engineered for the sake of complexity, yes. Simple? No. But, man, are they fun when they're working and you're behind the wheel.

-Mike

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