VW beetle engine swap

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My friend recently bought a 69 beetle, he's not sure but I believe its a 1500cc. for some unknown reason he has decided to change it to a beach buggy, and considering the 11 months, :joking: of rain we seem to get i think this is stupid.. to get to the point, he wants to get more power out of it. I’ve told him about the larger air cooled engines he can use but he really wants a water-cooled engine for some reason, also i have told him about the Alfa 33 engine (1.7 flat 4, 137 bhp) swap another one of my friends has done. The third option I gave him was that one of my other friends had a 2.5 liter flat 4 built for him over in America for his ’66 beetle at the cost of £6000 (about $10,000) but it produces close to 450bhp we believe and has few rivals out on the street..(sadly it smashes drive-shafts and gearboxes alike whenever driven hard, and now awaits some stronger driveshafts from America) now call me :screwy: (I’m asking for it aren’t I??!!) but i think the Porsche type 4 engine would fit into it. anyway, anyone with any ideas feel free to post them. hey, vwhobo, what are the specs of your daily drive? or would you rather not divulge? Thanks everyone.

posted by  R34RB30DETTV

While it's pretty easy to swap in any number of water cooled power plants, the air cooled on in a Beetle is just a more practical, powerful, cost effective job. In the US you could go to Kennedy Engineered Products and get adapters for everything from Mazda rotaries to Chevy V8s, but I'm not sure of an adapter source in the UK.

Still, with the water cooled engine comes the need to run a radiator, and make it effective. There are ways of doing it, but for the most part, a big bore VW engine would be an easier swap, and cheaper to accomplish, unless you have all the bits for a water cooled swap laying around. And it would be able to be as fast if not faster than an engine like the Alfa in there.

The Type 4 would fit. That's the one from the VW 411/412, VW Bus, Porsche 914 and 912E. You'd need to swap to the upright cooling fan shroud and use a custom flywheel/pressure plate setup from someplece like CB Perfomance or Stephens Machining (unless there is new info that vwhobo knows about).

The 1500 in the '69 is a single port setup. You could still use the case/block and swap over to dual port heads and a big bore kit. A dual carb 1776 with an Engel 110 cam is a nice, cheap, basically bolt together proposition, though you need a bit of case machining. But you'd be surprised how strong it would feel in a buggy (I had one in a Baja Bug, and it was remarkably stout). From there an 1835 is torquey and fun, though a 2110 is moreso (neither rev as good as a 1776 or a 2180, but for a buggy, they'd be about right).

posted by  ChrisV

thats what i was trying to explain to him, that keeping it as an air-cooled would be the best idea, but i just don't know why but he wants an water-cooled. also the air-cooled set-up has a magnesium alloy casting so that keeps it even lighter, but a heavier engine is jus going to promote even more understeer.. oh well, never mind, its all good fun isn't it??

posted by  R34RB30DETTV

It's really hard to give a good recommendation without knowing his intended purpose. As mentioned earlier a buggy will be a good few hundred pounds lighter so even a stock lump will make for a fairly quick ride. I know the Alfa swap is fairly common over there as is the Subaru. Personally I would keep it air-cooled for simplicity, weight and lower cost. Again that opinion could be swayed by knowing his intentions for the vehicle.

Today my car got a spare 1776 with dual Kadrons installed as it's time to freshen up the real engine as bracket racing season is almost upon us. It has a Berg 5-speed conversion, four wheel disc brakes and it's dumped a little. Very subtle, at least to the untrained eye.

Finally, I always wondered why people in the UK took perfectly good Beetles and made them into buggies considering the weather. I used to live in a little village called Eyke whick is northeast of Ipswich, Suffolk and never really liked the weather. At least not compared to living in SoCal.

P.S. I almost forgot. The additional weight at the rear of the car would promote oversteer, not understeer. See ya.

posted by  vwhobo

will it? ahhh... i c, i was presuming that due to the lessened weight over the front wheels understeer would be more prominent and the fact that the engine hangs behind the rear axle i thought would increase this effect, but i suppose that centrifugal force acting upon this mass will cause it to swing towards the outside of the bend.. But seeming as I have little real experience of buggies and even less of their handling characteristics I’ll trust your experience instead. :thumbs: His main purpose for the vehicle is to be used on the road as daily transport, and then to be used occasionally/rarely to actually go off road. Does this help or do you need more information?

posted by  R34RB30DETTV

If it's going to be essentially a daily driver I would suggest sticking with an ACVW engine. Obviously you want to ensure the case is properly inspected and prepped prior to the build as it is the foundation of the engine. Unless it has been abused most likely the only thing it'll need is to be looked over for cracks, probably an align bore, open up/resurface the cylinder spigots (you'll see why later) and I would highly recommend drilled and tapped for a full flow filter. Stock stroke (69mm) counterweighted crank that is eight-doweled with a matching lightened (12 1/2 lbs) flywheel.

Go big on the P&C's because a buggy is light and your weather is cool. 94's cost no more than 92's or 90.5's and the 94's with a standard size crank will give you 1915cc's. About all that's left for the big stuff is a mild cam such as an Engle 110 or 120, some decent dual port heads with slightly larger valves (40x37.5), and 1 1/2 extractor with turbo muffler and dual Kadrons.

A set up like this will give you about twice the stock engine's power and get better fuel economy as long as you're not thrashing it all the time. Plus as long as it's built right and taken care of you'll have the same longevity as the stock engine and it'll be zippy as hell.

Last note. Make sure the cooling system (fan, fan shroud, sparkplug seals, thermostat, etc) is all there and in good working order. Few things will kill a VW engine as fast as too much or not enough heat. I know this probably brought up more questions than it answered so feel free to fire away.

posted by  vwhobo

actually i have to say this answered just about all i could ask for, however i'm sure my friend will have someting else he wishes to know about, but in the mean time thanks alot for all you help VW :thumbs:, you too ChrisV. :clap:

posted by  R34RB30DETTV

Ditto. This is one of the more overlooked areas of air cooled VW rebuilds, especially in Baja Bugs and Buggies. Most people think that because the engines are basically hanging out in the air, that there will be sufficient cooling. Most of the time, this isn't true, as the air flowing over them while driving is not as effective as the fan blowing air over them in a controlled manner inside the stock engine sheetmetal.

I often saw problems with Bajas and buggies coming in with overheated #3 cylinders, as that one gets the least airflow of any of them.

posted by  ChrisV

Another real clean swap i saw was a 2.3 pinto motor. it actually fits under the decklid andwih little creatve plbing you can run the rad(s) under there too.


(hey, check it, as of 9:07PM CST on 3/15/04 I have the last post in all of the vehicle specific forums :smoke: )

I'm easily amused.

posted by  Hoxviii

yeah, my mate was going to put a pinto into his camper but the engine got distroyed before he even got it into the van...space for the engine and mounting the rads is not really an issue, there will be no back seats and we (i) will make the entire buggy by hand from steel tubing/box section. the rad(s) can go in the place of the rear passenger compartment and the buggie body can be made to fit around the engine... :thumbs:

posted by  R34RB30DETTV

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