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Vangon Articles - Vanagon 1.9l Turbo Diesel Conversion


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Vanagon 1.9l Turbo Diesel Conversion

June 12, 2015 2 Comments Ask Ken, Engine Ken Wilford

Just spoke to my supplier and as of October 2015 this kit is discontinued. I have removed it from my store and I can no longer sell it. I will leave this information up in case anyone is attempting a similar conversion and would find the information helpful. We do still sell the base conversion kit install parts if you want to source your own engine etc. Not sure how much longer that program is going to continue as parts dry up. Just wanted to let folks know as we were caught off guard by this program being discontinued. It had been in place for almost 10 years.

Original Post:
If you have taken a look at our website, you will note that we have sold conversion kits for many, many years. Just recently I installed one of these kits into a customer’s 84 Westfalia. Here are some things to consider when you are thinking about doing this:

Transmission matters

First, all of the kits we sell are only for manual transmission vans. So if you have an automatic van, I guess you will have to look elsewhere. Don’t worry there are lots of other options out there. If you have a manual transmission van, you may want to consider have the transmission re-geared to optimize the turbo diesel engine you are putting in. Yes it will work with the stock water boxer transmission, but you can squeeze a little more out of it with the gearing being optimized. If you your transmission needs rebuilding anyway, why not do both at the same time?

The Bed

Also, unless you have a Syncro Vanagon, the engine will stick up above the lid of the engine compartment. The kit includes a metal box that raises the engine lid to allow for this, but if you have a Westy, it is going to require a modification to your bed. You will see in the pictures that the new location engine lid is even with the stock bed level so the easiest way to deal with this is to buy an air mattress or a foam mattress that can cover the entire bed area so that everything is the same level.

Fuel Filler Mod

Unless you are installing this into a diesel Vanagon you are going to need to modify your fuel filler. The stock filler hole for a gas filler is about an inch while the diesel filler is 1 and 1/8th inch. We pulled the filler neck and expanded the hole and removed the little door that is in the hole and this mod works very well. Not sure why diesel pump nozzles can’t fit into a gas filler neck but a gas one can fit into a diesel neck. If you pump diesel into a gas tank by mistake the only thing that will happen is that your car will die out, you can drain the tank, put in new gas, and be back on the road. If you pump gas into a diesel (very possible) and drive the car, it will quickly destroy your motor. Thank you government, you are so smart ?

Some assembly required

I would love to sugar coat this conversion for you and say that the conversion supplier gives you everything you need to complete the conversion. I mean you would think that they would, but they don’t. If you originally have a diesel Vanagon, you would have most things that you need to complete the conversion (there are still a couple transmission parts that are missing). However if you are going to install this into a gas powered van, you are going to have to build your own electrical harness, you are going to have to modify the fuel system, and a few other mods and parts. Thankfully it isn’t a lot more money, and I know all of the little things that are needed to “complete” the kit. If you buy through us I will get you the rest of the parts and sell them to you at a fair price. I would just add it to the price of the kit, but it will vary a little depending on what van you are putting this in. If you have questions please ask before you buy the kit.

Power Steering and AC are optional

I know that if you have power steering and a good working air conditioning both of these things are not really optional. But with these kits, they are considered optional. So if you want them, we can supply the parts you need to get these accessories to work, but it is going to be extra and you are going to have to let us know about it when you order the kit.

I wanna see pictures!





Ken Wilford December 27, 2016

Be prepared for it to take much longer than you expected, cost much more, and big a bigger challenge. If you can't weld, do electrical wiring, or are afraid of cutting and modifying the body of your van, please don't even attempt it. If you need to have a garage do it for you, expect to pay for at least 60 hours of labor (it will be closer to 100 once they are done but they may be too embarrassed to charge you the time they really have into it). If all that hasn't scared you off, then let's continue :-) I know you are going to need to fabricate the engine mount for the driver's side because of the turbo. If you want I can try to get a pre-made mount from a supplier in Germany where this conversion is a lot more common. Let me know.

anthony calabro December 25, 2016

I am pretty set on doing a 1.9aaz conversion in my '82 diesel vanagon with a stock 1.6 diesel in it. the 1.9 is out of a 95 passast and i believe it is all mechanical. what should i know and what should i expect? any advice would be greatly appreciated! also merry Christmas thanks!

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