I find myself in the unenviable position of being a diesel enthusiast in North America. Add to the fact that I want to run my diesel on SVO, and the fact that an old Rabbit's 50hp will be wholly inadequate, and you see my dilemna. Compounding the situation further is a tight (nearly non-existant) budget. Oh, and I'm not going to be satisfied with a comfy, boring car - I like to drive, dammit.
Still here? Good. What I do have is a cousin who is no stranger to motor swaps, limited access to a body shop, and no fear of many knuckle-ripping hours under the hood of just about anything (I spent three weeks changing the headgaskets to get my first ride, a 78 Ford F150, which appreciated my efforts so much that it ran for almost exactly the same amount of time that I had put into it
, just to give you a clue). I also have a daily driver with a big trunk to transport parts and get me around while this project works itself out.
So, now that you know all of that, what exactly am I getting myself into? I'm looking at spending a minimum amount on a solid-enough A2 Jetta, likely with a blown motor, to receive the new powertrain. Figure anywhere from "it's yours if you get it out of my friggin' yard" to a couple hundred bucks. Worse case scenario, I buy back my 87 GL, which has little to recommend it aside from a rust-free body and the fact that I already know ***'s wrong with it.
Then the tough part: procuring the drivetrain. I'm assuming that pretty much any old 5 speed will do, as long as I install the diff bolt kit from ARP. I would also assume that a 16V tranny is NOT what I'm looking for, so no need to pay extra for short gearing. I recently saw a TDI engine out of a wrecked Jetta over on vwvortex.com with 3k miles, including the harness, ECU, and peripheral components. The guy was asking 800 - which, if I had, I would be asking what ELSE I would need. I'm pretty sure that the feeder pump will be required, although maybe the gas one will work (don't know).
I've heard that this swap is a major pain in the ass, akin to a 1.8T swap. I want to ask the experts before I trust one guy's opinion. With that in mind, why bother with all of the work? For one, I like unique vehicles, for another, just because I want to be environmentally (and financially) friendly, be able to take long trips without whining about fuel costs, etc, doesn't mean I want some big, heavy car that won't be any real fun to drive (Mercedes 300SD, for example, and there's really too much to go wrong with those cars to even consider). Plus, done right, it would be a very livable car - lightweight, good power with mods, manual trans, handles well, many available parts/modifications, huge trunk with four doors, and are good looking cars with a little work. This is the only diesel car I can see being any fun to drive that I'll be able to afford. And if I could afford a new TDI, I'd still do it this way - the A2 chassis is the best, I'm convinced, for handling purposes - it's light enough for the limited travel and twist beam to be able to work well. It dosn' do as well when you add 300-1000 lbs onto what is essentially the same chassis design.
Plus, with some hard work by yours truly, I'm convinced I can have the car up and running with the veggie-oil system in place for a total of +/-$2500 if I'm patient and get the right stuff. Mind you, I'm not going to be paying anyone to swap the motor or any of that - all labor that can be done by me, will be done by me. And that initial investment won't be much to put up with when I don't have to pay for fuel anymore.
So, tell me, am I nuts, or is this doable? This is my last shot at VW's - if this doesn't pan out for me, I'm just going to bow down to the gas companies and get a first-gen MR2. So help keep this black sheep in the fold.
Thanks in advance,