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TDI Conversions Discussions on converting non TDIs into TDIS. More general items can be answered better in other sections. This is ideal for issues that don't have an overlap and are very special to swaping engines.

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Old August 11th, 2017, 20:31   #1
SuperUPer
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Wasilla ak
Default Rabbit truck tdi swap

I've been reasearching this for a while now, but still in planning stage. I just wanted to post up some ideas that are rattling around in my head and hopefully someone can help point me in a good direction. I'll start with some pictures of what I'm kind of after:


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Old August 11th, 2017, 21:03   #2
SuperUPer
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Goals of the build:
It's going to replace my current 2003 jetta tdi as commuter rig. It will also need to haul the occasional dirt bike and snowmobile. Time frame is probably over a couple years as my intentions are to do a full restoration type project that will have no rust, fresh paint (not really looking for show quality), upgraded power (shooting for around 200hp), decent sporty suspension maybe a little lowered but not too low. It needs to be a functional height not a belly scraper. Full interior with nice seats, dynamat and a good audio system.

Things I'm contemplating:
1) engine options. Right now it's between a ALH and a newer cr140. If I went ALH I would most likely use the motor and manual transmission from my current car. It only has 100k miles on it and I could do performance upgrades while I drive it. In the mean time I would do body work and other stuff to the rabbit. So I like that idea because I would have a motor that I know is solid and I would already have a feel for the power upgrades.

BUT....
I owned a 2011 jetta tdi with dsg, stage 2 Malone and buzzken exhaust. I LOVED that engine and tranny combo. I was actually just about to pull the trigger on a stage 3 and cr170 turbo when the vw scandal broke. I couldn't pass up the buyback price but was sad to see that car go. So that would be a really enticing swap but more complicated electrically and a lot less aftermarket support as far as the motor swap. Also much less knowledge as few people seem to have done it.

2) 4 wheel drive
...I know I know, cr swap AND 4x4 this guy must be a glutton for punishment! I actually do want to have a finished product, not be fabricating myself into a grave. Maybe I could do a body swap onto a Toyota truck chassis? Not sure if I could get the low truck look going that route...I'd like 4x4 for winter driving, and also to feel a little more truck like. I enjoy kicking the back end out every now and then. But I don't want the rabbit to be an off rode rig. Not really interested in AWD. I'd like normal truck 4x4 with a manual engaging transfer case and auto hubs. It seems to me a Toyota chassis could be a viable option especially with the aftermarket support for putting a ALH in a Toyota.
Any input on that subject?

I'm hoping to keep the build under $10000. I'm a certified welder with a good amount of experience, but haven't done body work or much thin sheet metal welding. Minimal TIG but I'm pretty good with MIG. I do most of my own mechanic work so I'm not too concerned with that aspect. I've done some electrical but not an expert. One huge thing I have going for me is access to equipment. I have direct access to a CNC plasma table, water jet, shears, brakes, rollers, benders, CNC mill, lathe, paint booth, you name it. Which is finally what got me feeling like I'm ready to tackle a big project like this. Wish me like luck!!

Last edited by SuperUPer; August 11th, 2017 at 22:05.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 09:06   #3
KCTDI
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How about one of these if you're open to options: smythkitcars.com
Endless possibilities, and a lotta fun to build. And it sounds light you already have a donor!
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Old August 13th, 2017, 12:22   #4
pdq import repair
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The kits look like a lot of fun to do, I am keeping my eye out for a suitable donor car myself.

If you want 4wd and do not mind fabrication and mechanical, find a Passat 4 motion wagon or A4 quattro wagon, and do a diesel swap into it and then convert it to pickup form. The v6 transmission is geared high enough to sorta work with the TDI.

The smyth kits are not made for a Passat, but I bet an inventive person could adapt the general bed design and fab up a tailgate.
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Old August 13th, 2017, 14:05   #5
SuperUPer
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I've looked into the smyth kit cars already. Super neat, really intriguing, but it's just not the look I'm after. The rabbit body style just does it for me. So I will either end up trying to put a rabbit body on a different frame or probably settling for fwd only. I did look into Toyota frames more and it seems they are within an inch of the rabbits wheelbase for both a single can truck and a 4runner. I really like the fact that there are aftermarket kits for putting the ALH in a Toyota. But I'm wondering how low I could get the rabbit unibody on a 4x4 frame. I'm sure a lot of the unibody would have to get cut out.

As for a Passat 4motion if I'm understand correctly that's more of an awd system that sends power to the back when slip is detected. What I'm wanting is rwd and a manual transfer case. Pretty much just because it would be more fun to drive. Thanks for the suggestions
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Old August 23rd, 2017, 08:03   #6
pdq import repair
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Good luck in your ventures and quest for the perfect frame combo. How about sidekick? they are bigger than the Sammy and I have sized one up for TDI install and it initially looks promising. The adapter for the Sammy should fit, but mounts would have to be fabbed.

Frame might be Rabbit sized too, though my interest was just to mod the Sidekick with TDI power and run with that. Gearing would surely have to be upped.
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Old August 30th, 2017, 06:38   #7
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You asked for opinions, so giving you my 2 cents worth. I had a 1980 Rabbit truck with GTI setup. It was fun when I was in my late 20's but being 6'2" was never, ever comfortable for trips of any length. Also can't imagine lowering it and still having a comfortable ride, especially in AK.
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Old September 2nd, 2017, 16:50   #8
GoFaster
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As soon as you say "different frame", the low look that you seem to be after is out the window. You are dealing with a unibody vehicle. Keep it a unibody vehicle.

I can't see all wheel drive being a necessity in Arkansas. I live near Toronto and I've never owned anything with all wheel drive. Get winter tires ... even if you have to import them from Minnesota. Done. That's all you need.

You are going to have issues with engine mounts. The Mk4 and later cars have the powertrain suspended from each end with a "pendulum" torque arm to take up the torque reaction. The Mk3s and earlier have the engine mounted on each side and a single transmission support akin to how it was traditionally done with rear axle drive cars, except turned sideways. The Mk1 was different again. I don't recall off hand what the difference is, but having seen (and been driven in) a Mk1 TDI conversion, I know there was something about the engine mounts in that chassis which interfered with the Mk3-based (AHU) engine - if I remember right I think it interfered with the turbo.

Study the engine mount situation carefully. The further apart in "generations" that your chassis (which you are stuck with Mk1) and powertrain are, the more headaches this is going to be. The Mk1 TDI conversions that I've seen have used a Mk3 AHU engine and with the turbo mounted in a custom way (with custom manifolds) to make it work.

I think the Mk4 TDI engine block still has the provisions on the engine block for the earlier style engine mounts to be installed, even though they aren't used and would interfere with the turbo if you tried. I have NO idea if the Mk5 and later engine blocks still have provision for the old style engine mounts.

And with that ... go for it. The Mk1 TDI that I had a ride in was a riot. Acceleration was traction-limited ...
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