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Saturn TDI Conversion

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
This is eventually going to be swapped into my '95 SW2 (the blue wagon seen in the background), but first I'm putting it in a '95 SL2 beater/R&D test mule to work it all out. The swap has gone very well so far; the '97 AHU drivetrain fits really nice in the Saturn engine bay and actually turned out to be a physically smaller package than the origional Saturn twin cam motor, although I had to modify the engine cradle to make it fit properly. I've done more than is shown here, just wanted to post some pictures to get the thread started.

















 

dbywaters

Active member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
TDI
99 NB Yellow
Great looking job

As a owner of several SL2 and SL1 coups in the past few years I believe you will have one super high economy car when done. My 96 SL2 averages around 35mpg, and I have seen 40 mpg on a couple occasions. The TDI should really do well!

My hat is off to you for making this work!
Great photos too!

Doug

99 Passat TDI (to be completed some day soon, I hope)
 

Beta

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2005
Location
Bozeman, Montana
TDI
87 syncro westy alh
wow- tools to make tools! The logic escapes me but you have some incredible work there. I look forward to your progress.
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
Thanks for the great feedback! The axles are going to be a hybrid, using a pair of VW passenger-side axles (because they are made with thick-wall tubing) with a bushing to accept the outer half of the Saturn axle. I've got the bushings out being machined, and I'll post some pictures of them when I get them back.
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
I work in a sheetmetal shop with some very talented people...I designed the pieces and had them drawn up by our programmer. These were run through a CNC punch press and bent on a CNC brake. I do a lot of TIG welding, so I welded the crossmember myself (it's shown in the picture tack-welded together to test for fitment before final welding).
 

sdturbo

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2006
Location
san diego
TDI
none
CFM said:
I work in a sheetmetal shop with some very talented people...I designed the pieces and had them drawn up by our programmer. These were run through a CNC punch press and bent on a CNC brake. I do a lot of TIG welding, so I welded the crossmember myself (it's shown in the picture tack-welded together to test for fitment before final welding).
Damn. I guess ill stick with the plasma cutter :-/
 

G60ING

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 5, 2001
Location
Alexandria, VA
TDI
No TDIs Currently, I have an R36 Corrado. I've had an ALH Corrado swap, AHU Corrado swap and 2003 TDI Jetta
I was a big naysayer and probaly one of the larger ***** when you first poised the saturn idea. Your work is impressive. I don't see you having any issues in getting the rest sorted. Just holler if you do and I'm certain you get the answers to get the job done :)
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
Thanks! I have this thing for fit, finish, and function, so I like to make nice stuff. All the TDI swaps I've seen on this forum have all been thought through and well executed, and it's great to have the support of so many talented and knowlegable people here.
 

tdIraddo

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2006
Location
Philadelphia, PA
TDI
1999.5 TDI Golf, 2001 TDi Golf GLS, 2002 TDi Golf GLS
wow. great project.
any idea how similar the SL2 is to a Vue? i've been contemplating a swap for the space/offroad 'ability' of a small SUV, and i really like the Vue.

great work :thumbup:
 

vwmikel

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
May 5, 2005
Location
Las Vegas, NV
TDI
'94 Golf Sport TDI
I still think this is a rather strange swap....and I can't say it's anything I would do. It's sort of like turbocharging a Ford Taurus....I'd still have a Taurus. But, you actually have skill....something that is unexpected in this day and age. This is going to be the nicest damn Saturn TDI anywhere :D

It will be interesting to see how you solve some of the fitment and electrical issues.
 

iamwardicus

Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2006
Location
Norwalk, OH
TDI
none yet...
you will definitly get incredible fuel economey out of that test saturn. My parents have a SL2 gasser and it gets 35-44mpg depending on who's driving it. nice work so far! :)
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
Here's a couple more progress shots: In order to use the Saturn clutch master cylinder with the VW clutch slave cylinder, I had to make a couple of adapters. I machined a new fitting out of T304 with an AN-4 fitting TIG-welded on to allow using the Saturn cmc with an AN-4 teflon hose. On the other end, I just got a piece of T304 3/16" bubble flared line to use the VW threaded fitting on one end, and TIG-welded a T304 AN-4 fitting on the other.

I designed a sheetmetal box arrangement that uses the VW throttle pedal and potentiometer, allowing it to bolt to the Saturn firewall. Not shown is a second bracket that supports it on the other end and bolts to a factory crossbrace under the dash.

Still sorting through the wiring harness; I have most of it figured out, although there are still a few things I'm still working through and will be asking some questions about it soon. I also test-fit the Saturn radiator and fan shroud today...I discovered that it fits fine but doesn't allow any room for changing the oil filter, so I'll likely remote-mount the filter next to the starter.

Thanks again for all the great input and remarks on this project!



 

Jason D

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2006
Location
St. Louis
TDI
06 Graphite Blue 5 speed
Very nice work. I wouldn't trouble myself with doing that to a Saturn, but you definitely have some fabrication skills.

Do you have full coverage on the Saturn(s)? Just curious because I'd be pissed if I did all that work and someone (or myself) messed it up. I bet replacement Saturn rolling chassis are really cheap though.
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
That has crossed my mind before...I'm going to make this as plug 'n play as possible so that it could be easily swapped into another Saturn if that ever happened. Doing it up in the SL2 first will put this theory to the test when I finally swap it into my SW2.

I have full insurance on it even though it's 12+ years old; I don't dare drive without full coverage with the way some people drive these days. I also have a 1960 VW Bug with antique auto insurance, I need to get that car reappraised for insurance purposes... scary to think of what it would cost to replace that one!
 
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nathan.chase

Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2007
Location
vancouver, canada, recently arcata, ca
TDI
NA 1981 rabbit
I am wondering why you chose to swap into a saturn? clearly the shape of the cars are quite airodynamic but does that make a really big difference? why is all I can think?
I have often debated how important airdynamics are in fuel economy, and how they compare to weight. do the saturns have plastic panels and are those lighter.

thanks for any info you can give
-nate
 

Herm TDI

Vendor
Joined
Nov 21, 2001
Location
Richmond, Maine...The far side of Witsend
TDI
2002 Golf GLS Malone Stage 3, P+520 nozzles, 11MM Inj pump, Sachs VR6 clutch, Stelth Race Pipe, Immo Deleat, EGR Deleat
Why

nathan.chase said:
I am wondering why you chose to swap into a saturn? clearly the shape of the cars are quite airodynamic but does that make a really big difference? why is all I can think?
I have often debated how important airdynamics are in fuel economy, and how they compare to weight. do the saturns have plastic panels and are those lighter.

thanks for any info you can give
-nate
Weight is the reason. The Saturn TDI will likely see well near 60 MPG
The thing I would like is a larger fuel tank. The stock SL2 tank is about 12+ gallons. I have an SL-2 in very good condition AND a B4 TDI sitting in my yard.
I wonder if CFM would consider making a conversion kit?
The brackets and fittings he's made look darn near OEM quality.
 

kafer65

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2007
Location
TN
TDI
Early '06 Jetta 5M
Love your work. Looks like your having fun. I dreamed of pieces that fit that well together when I built my sandrail from scratch. Its a sad day when a beetle goes down let me tell ya. I had my all white '65 totalled by a dude that ran a stop sign. I got full replacement from my insurance but I'm still digging windshield out of my head. I'm scared to death to drive my '61 now.
 

vwmikel

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
May 5, 2005
Location
Las Vegas, NV
TDI
'94 Golf Sport TDI
Herm TDI said:
Weight is the reason. The Saturn TDI will likely see well near 60 MPG
The thing I would like is a larger fuel tank. The stock SL2 tank is about 12+ gallons. I have an SL-2 in very good condition AND a B4 TDI sitting in my yard.
I wonder if CFM would consider making a conversion kit?
The brackets and fittings he's made look darn near OEM quality.
http://www.theautochannel.com/vehicles/new/reviews/wk9520.html

At 2440 an SL2 isn't exactly a lightweight and is about on par with a MK3 Golf/Jetta. Does the stock Saturn engine have a cast iron block? If it's aluminum then I'm sure installing the TDI would remove any weight benefits. Saturns may be plastic but they had to make up for the structure somehow.
 

nathan.chase

Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2007
Location
vancouver, canada, recently arcata, ca
TDI
NA 1981 rabbit
vwmikel said:
http://www.theautochannel.com/vehicles/new/reviews/wk9520.html

At 2440 an SL2 isn't exactly a lightweight and is about on par with a MK3 Golf/Jetta. Does the stock Saturn engine have a cast iron block? If it's aluminum then I'm sure installing the TDI would remove any weight benefits. Saturns may be plastic but they had to make up for the structure somehow.
that is what I thought. This leaves the airdynamics responsible for quite alot of added mpg. it is possible as they are pritty knive shapped but it still seems wierd, as the jetta's and golfs are total pigs. if it is true than airdynamic modes are my next project.
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
The Saturn has an aluminum block, so I'm sure I'll be adding some weight to the car...not sure how much more, though the nose of the SL2 hasn't dropped any discernable amount with the TDI. The TDI is clocked back towards the firewall more than the Saturn motor, so at least some of that weight is shifted rearwards a bit.

My axle bushings should be done this week, hope to post pictures of that part of the project soon, plus some other stuff I'm progressing on. Half the reason I'm doing this project is because I enjoy the fabricational and engineering challenges; I do a lot of metal working for a living and as a hobby (welding, sheetmetal, machining, castings, ect), and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of designing and building things. I like to say that I was given two gifts: an overactive imagination to dream things up, and a pair of skilled hands to make them a reality!
 

RoundHouse

Veteran Member
Joined
May 23, 2001
Location
Ga USA
CFM said:
The Saturn has an aluminum block, so I'm sure I'll be adding some weight to the car...not sure how much more, though the nose of the SL2 hasn't dropped any discernable amount with the TDI. The TDI is clocked back towards the firewall more than the Saturn motor, so at least some of that weight is shifted rearwards a bit.

My axle bushings should be done this week, hope to post pictures of that part of the project soon, plus some other stuff I'm progressing on. Half the reason I'm doing this project is because I enjoy the fabricational and engineering challenges; I do a lot of metal working for a living and as a hobby (welding, sheetmetal, machining, castings, ect), and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of designing and building things. I like to say that I was given two gifts: an overactive imagination to dream things up, and a pair of skilled hands to make them a reality!
So how much $ to drop a tdi into a 88 Fiero GT?
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
RoundHouse said:
So how much $ to drop a tdi into a 88 Fiero GT?
That's a tough one to answer, depends on what kind of deals you can score and what needs to be done to make the swap. There was someone on here awhile back in the UK who was swapping a TDI into a Lotus Elise. Not sure if he finished it or not, but it was a really cool swap.
 

pearse

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2001
Location
pennsylvania
TDI
2006 Golf BEW engine
How about a toyota mr2? That would be a sweet swap.
Or the Fiat x1/9?

All that torque would be fun with rwd!
 

toohighpsi

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Mar 12, 2003
Location
Seattle, WA
TDI
2005 Jetta, 2001 Golf
Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever heard reports of fuel economy figures from a tdi into Rabbit swap? I know a Mk1 2 door has got to be like 1800 lbs (my '78 Ford Fiesta was anyway). I figured that would answer the weight vs. economy question, although a Rabbit is far from aerodynamic. That geo metro swap that someone was talking about awhile ago would probably be the ultimate in hi mpg.
 

Ol'Rattler

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Location
PNA
TDI
2006 BRM Jetta
RoundHouse said:
So how much $ to drop a tdi into a 88 Fiero GT?
Might actually work.

The Fiat 128 and the X1/9 had the same drive train, except the 128 was FWD and the X1/9 was RWD.

Probably price isn't the motivation for doing these kind of mods I think it's more like doing something because you can.....................
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.




A couple of recent ebay scores: I found a G60 Corrado intake manifold, shown here after I welded some material to the tops of the flange before I D-port them, and a Saab intercooler that is compact enough to fit in the Saturn nose.

I got the motor mounts pretty well situated; I used a set of Energy Suspension universal donut mounts to bolt the drivetrain in place, and I got the clutch slave/master cylinder installed and bled. The clutch pedal feels really light, not sure yet if I still have some air in the line or if the Saturn master cylinder and clutch pedal have more leverage...I'll get it sorted out eventually.
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.




Been awhile since I've updated this; between work, school, the weather, and the holidays, progress slowed down somewhat. I have the wiring harness about 95% completed, waiting on some shift cables so I can put the linkage together, and started working out the cooling system hoses.

Also have all the pieces to build the axles; special thanks to the Lovely Lady Lauren and her CNC machining skills for making the bushings that mate the Saturn outer axle to the VW tubular axle. These things are press-fit and I hope to weld these together later this week. I also picked up a new intake gasket so I could D-port the manifold flange. I did a little cleaning up inside the runners, will probably do inside the plenum before I bolt it to the motor.
 
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