Volkswagen Vanagon 4x4 Conversion.


Dang it.
You make too much sense.
I am looking for someone to tell me to run 18 inch travel coil overs and hydraulic steering and that it will work just fine on the street.

I blabbed on from the beginning about using tried and true bits and ideas in the name of durability and reliability but knew I wanted to push the boundaries a little bit. That's what I do.
Otherwise, I would not be building a Vanagon.

Truthfully I came up with the loose spring seat idea (well more like decided to steal the idea) because I wanted to run the air bags but could not find any of suitable quality that were the right diameter and had the travel numbers I was looking for.

I paid a pretty penny to have these bags shipped from Australia because they almost met all of my criteria... Almost.

Since I plan to sleep in this van, the bags will be good for pulling into camp and leveling out the rig at the push of a button or two.
I assumed with the top heavy nature of such a design it would be good to adjust the vehicles attitude on the fly should things go pear shaped.
I also imagined being able to pump the suspension up 3 or 4 inches should I get hung up on something.
Lastly I thought it might be nice to drop the rig down a bit and soften it up for interstate travel.
The bags just made sense to me and still do.

When it is all said and done, more or less, I just want it to work like and last as long as an 80 series land cruiser but with my own little spin on it.

Alas, I do not have then engineers or money that any of the major manufactures have so I kinda just hafta wing it... Sort of.


Expedition Leader
I think the bags aren't a bad idea, I just wouldn't make them drop out of the mount or anything fancy.

Dropping them down for the highway might work against you. Less uptravel is never really fun. It will also change your suspension and steering a bit.

I'd decide on a ride height and stick with it 99 percent of the time. You can play with the bags, but you won't want to have to do that all the time.

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Nope not yet.
No physical stuff anyway.
Like an idiot I bought another Vanagon and I am in the process of going through it to use as a daily driver.
Once that is done (hopefully in the next month or two) I will get back to the 4x4.

In my spare time I have been doing a little design work on the output of my Subaru trans so I can reverse the output and move it down.

As may be evident in my last few post in this thread there have been and will soon be a lot of design changes in the layout of things.

After working with my original design and getting some of it mounted I was not pleased with the layout.
I have since decided to ditch a lot of that and go back to one of the ideas that I mentioned way early in this thread.

Anyway it will all make sense once I get back to it and, with the new game plan and having some parts made ahead of time, I hope that it will progress more quickly than it has in the past.

In the meantime if you are bored and/or interested you can check out my 2wd Vanagon build.

Until next time.

b. rock

Active member
Interested as well. I liked the size of our Vanagon, but the drivetrain, brakes, trans, etc was not up to the task of what it could carry and dealing with modern road speeds (at least not without throwing ~$20-30k at it). 80 series axles under one would be the bastard love child of both of my previous rigs, would love to see this complete!


Have you considered using a Subaru diesel boxer engine, it seems like it would be the perfect middle ground between the Subaru gas engine and the 1.8tdi. also the main seller of those engines in North America sells them for Vanagon swaps. The engines are quite pricey but that's the only negative of them I can think of.

Here's the link
Subaru made a H-6 Engine in the mid 90's (I think) to be use on a car (sorry don't remember the model, the one with the "Dual window" for the front) had a Time chain and very simple electronics/sensors, etc so is easy to adapt..

Personally I have a 2002 H6 Outback and that engine is very bulletproof and deliver a very nice power band..


Sorry no new progress as of late.
It's still happening but it's just moving real slowly.

I ran into a snag with my 2WD Vanagon build, that I am currently working on, when I discovered that my transmission was trashed.
It took nearly 4 months to track down a good trans which slowed down that van build a bit.
Until the 2WD is out of the garage I have no room to work on the 4WD.

Anyway the plan is to have the 2WD done late june early july and resume work on the 4WD.
I have done a lot of redesign work on the 4WD and have a pretty good game plan on how to proceed so, fingers crossed, the build should move along at a better pace than recently.

On another note, I believe the car that ricardo is speaking of is the SVX that had a 3.3 H6.
It did make 230-240 hp but had a habit of destroying the transmission that it was attached to.
They still had belt driven timing.
I have considered one of these engines off and on for some time but I already had the 2.2 so decided to run that.
If I ever shoot for more power, I would prefer a turbo set up so power loss at higher elevations if not as drastic.


I wish I could say there were updates but I have none.

Been working on my 2wd van and the 4x4 has been pushed to the side.

The good news is that the 2wd is nearly finished and I have gathered a few more of the good parts for the 4x4 build.

I do need to build a motorcycle sometime soon but my primary goal is to get the garage set up to work on the 4x4 as soon as the 2wd is outta the shop.

I know it's been a long time coming but it's still happening.