vw tdi kit car

jlphil

Active member
Joined
Nov 7, 2009
Location
Jupiter, FL, USA
TDI
1999.5 Jetta TDI CONVERTED to Smyth G3F
FWIW, many of us have built FFR products, and have a great deal of faith in Mark Smith's engineering cred. I've built three FFR Roadsters over the years, have been itching to build again, and have been wanting to replace my Prius commuter with something less appliance-like, but also "green". So, when Mark's new TDI-based concept appeared, it was a no-thinker for me. I'm in.

If you haven't seen an FFR build yet, there's probably someone building one in your town, and we are a notoriously friendly bunch, glad to show you our projects, underway or completed. You can visit websites many builders use to post pics of their builds. You'll see the tubular steel frame/laser-cut aluminum sheet/donor-parts construction model Mark is working with here. (UPDATE: I believe Mark's plan for the TDI car will involve fiberglass sandwich panels rather than extensive aluminum, with steel tubing frame components attached to either end of the sawed-off unibody) You can get addys for builders or their websites at www.ffcobra.com. The picture site for my most-recent FFR build is not the best, but you're welcome to visit it at http://imageevent.com/jlphil/ffrmarkiiibuild to see some of what I'm trying to describe. The point being that regular motorheads can build this thing, using regular tools and intelligence.

I'm hoping to get a LOT of TDI education from this forum, and help in finding a suitable donor car. Thanks in advance, this will be a blast. John Phillips, Jupiter, FL
 
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slapshotjh

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2006
Location
CT
TDI
97 GLX B4V
Hey just found this thread. Do Jim and Jesper still work there? I went to school with them (RPI). If they are still around tell them Jon Harriman says hello!
 

mark smith

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2008
Location
wareham, ma
TDI
2000 jetta sedan, 2002 jettta wagon
they run r&d now

jesper and jim have been there since they graduated....10 years?

time flies...two of the best auto engineers in the world.

mark
 

HoneyBeetle

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2009
Location
Massachusetts
TDI
2001 VW NB TDI
I haven't read all these posts, however......I'd like to see an affordable TDI car kit for every-day people with very good "written" instructions. It would be a really nice touch to have a good manual or book of instructions written by a technical writer who understands how to write well for everyday people with limited mechanical experience.

Oh, with that said, you absolutely NEED (minimally) a legal waiver of liability and a good lawyer to research the laws on this too. Don't assume a "kit" will ward off liability. There are other issues under negligence and other tort laws, contracts, property law, and maybe RMV regulation, or more that may apply. These legal restrictions MAY make a difference in how a kit would be engineered. It depends. I hate to see anyone miss something important up-front and get hurt. Just think about it and ask your attorney if you want to be safe, ok?

I can't help in the engineering, but if anyone needs a little help working out a legal detail or two, feel free to PM or email me.
 
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ChippedNotBroken

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Location
Pocono\'s, NYC
TDI
Jetta A4 1999.5 Green
Or, how about just putting a disclaimer that says, if you don't know your ass from your elbow when it comes to putting things together, best to hand this project off to someone who does. ie...

http://www.local-motors.com/
www.local-motors.com is a start up headed by jay rogers with ffr as the first investor. They crowd source designs for cars and then design them ffr style for production...the difference is that it is not home built...you build the car in their micro factories around the country with factory technicians. Cool company with a unique vision.
As for the other stuff, how bout, experimental - use at your own risk. I suppose for those of us living in the NE that may be too much to hope for but we can always dream. As for me I am tired of watching pools, parks and just about every fun thing under the sun get shut down because of legal concerns. Eliminate all risk and what do you have? A prison.

HoneyBeetle said:
I haven't read all these posts, however......I'd like to see an affordable TDI car kit for every-day people with very good "written" instructions. It would be a really nice touch to have a good manual or book of instructions written by a technical writer who understands how to write well for everyday people with limited mechanical experience.

Oh, with that said, you absolutely NEED (minimally) a legal waiver of liability and a good lawyer to research the laws on this too. Don't assume a "kit" will ward off liability. There are other issues under negligence and other tort laws, contracts, property law, and maybe RMV regulation, or more that may apply. These legal restrictions MAY make a difference in how a kit would be engineered. It depends. I hate to see anyone miss something important up-front and get hurt. Just think about it and ask your attorney if you want to be safe, ok?

I can't help in the engineering, but if anyone needs a little help working out a legal detail or two, feel free to PM or email me.
 

HoneyBeetle

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2009
Location
Massachusetts
TDI
2001 VW NB TDI
ChippedNotBroken said:
Or, how about just putting a disclaimer that says, if you don't know your ass from your elbow when it comes to putting things together, best to hand this project off to someone who does. ie...



As for the other stuff, how bout, experimental - use at your own risk. I suppose for those of us living in the NE that may be too much to hope for but we can always dream. As for me I am tired of watching pools, parks and just about every fun thing under the sun get shut down because of legal concerns. Eliminate all risk and what do you have? A prison.
Good point Chip..., and also helping people have better info and a safer world isn't a bad idea. I believe manufacturing "fun" project cars, with safety in mind, also helps us to be a better society, in general. Staying a cut above China, or other manufacturers who seem not to include safe or reasonably safe into the mfg equation, perhaps US and CANADA engineering should be and is better.

Why not always strive for better, quality and "safe" products. The safe, yet fun aspect is aways a challenge, you are correct. Challenges are not often for the weak at heart. Those who do their best to rise to a higher plateau of engineering with concern for others tend to be better engieers, in my opinion. Fun need not be sacrificed.

Also, a little reasonable thought invested into safety may save your house and life savings. Liability suits can be sticky.

Reasons to believe (for your liesure reading pleasure):

http://www.demayolaw.com/lawyer-attorney-1227417.html

http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/Product-Liability-Lawsuits---Legal-Concerns-And-General-Information/821655

Read the info from the SEC re: law suits initiated against Shelby

http://sec.edgar-online.com/carroll-shelby-international-inc/10ksb-annual-report-small-business-issuers/2004/04/14/section2.aspx

Kit Car magazine posted waiver of liability:

https://customkitcarmagazine.com/TermsConditions.php?PHPSESSID=b8b785fde7f8281e1b97acd76a470168

How to initiate a law suit against manufactures of a defective "kit" car product:

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/how-do-i-initiate-action-against-the-manufacturer--68257.html

Station Nightclub Fire in Warwick, RI (example of owner, manufacture, rock band liability [who would have known?] -- negligence, product liability and criminal and civil liability):

As of August 2008, nearly $175 million has been offered to the families of the victims of the fire by various defendants in settlement.

http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Northeast/02/21/deadly.nightclub.fire/

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/settlements/11807/foam-makers-night-club-fire.html
 
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ChippedNotBroken

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Location
Pocono\'s, NYC
TDI
Jetta A4 1999.5 Green
Nice of you to illustrate my point for me. That said, I am not saying there is no place for lawsuits against people that disregard the safety of their customers by failing to provide the basic implied safety requirements of their product or service. What I am saying is that there should be a higher bar, and if you are going to do something inherently dangerous (skiing, horseback riding, hang gliding, rock climbing, or driving experimental cars) then you should be ready to man up, if things go wrong.

As an example, I almost died in a motorcycle accident, still have a metal rod in my right leg so I won't be going going skiing, or several other things that I used to enjoy. Was it the other drivers fault, was there a problem with the motorcycle, were the roads properly maintained etc... ad nauseum. I don't really care, won't fix my leg.

Driving a motorcycle is inherently dangerous, I had insurance and took precautions to protect myself from financial loss. Had I died that would have sucked, especially for those I left behind, but I took my chances (as we all do, driving ANY motor vehicle is, perhaps, the most dangerous thing humans have ever done on a persons killed basis) every time I put on my helmut (not required in PA, but ya gotta be REALLY stupid to drive without one).

One other point, I said that it was a pipe dream to think you could do anything in the NE without checking with a lawyer first. Sad fact of life that we aren't much better off than prisoners asking the warden for permission to persue our passions, without which what's the point of it all.

HoneyBeetle said:
Reasons to believe (for your liesure reading pleasure):

http://www.demayolaw.com/lawyer-attorney-1227417.html

http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/Product-Liability-Lawsuits---Legal-Concerns-And-General-Information/821655

Read the info from the SEC re: law suits initiated against Shelby

http://sec.edgar-online.com/carroll-shelby-international-inc/10ksb-annual-report-small-business-issuers/2004/04/14/section2.aspx

Kit Car magazine posted waiver of liability:

https://customkitcarmagazine.com/TermsConditions.php?PHPSESSID=b8b785fde7f8281e1b97acd76a470168

How to initiate a law suit against manufactures of a defective "kit" car product:

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/how-do-i-initiate-action-against-the-manufacturer--68257.html

Station Nightclub Fire in Warwick, RI (example of owner, manufacture, rock band liability [who would have known?] -- negligence, product liability and criminal and civil liability):

As of August 2008, nearly $175 million has been offered to the families of the victims of the fire by various defendants in settlement.

http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Northeast/02/21/deadly.nightclub.fire/

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/settlements/11807/foam-makers-night-club-fire.html
 

mark smith

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2008
Location
wareham, ma
TDI
2000 jetta sedan, 2002 jettta wagon
liability in kit cars

chipped...i agree.

Great discussion for 1995 when I started but after shipping over 8000 car kits and paying up to a million a year some years in legal fees I am probably pretty educated about the car business in the USA..not trying to be a wise guy....just live it daily at factory five.

If you cant turn a wrench dont build a car. At least do it with somebody who knows something about cars...seems simple. The big three and the other major car companies are there to service the non builders in the world....this car is about building something special yourself....thats what hot rodders do. We as motorheads like it and have fun doing it while accepting that if we dont do the brakes well the car will crash...but we do brake jobs anyway and trust our own hands over those of others:)

Local motors is going on a path midway between the builders like us kit guys and the big car companies..he is well funded and it should be quite a ride.

Regarding my new tdi kit....the bulk of the car is factory engineered and should make it very dependable but you are still undergoing a masssive project in which your life is in your hands...thats part of the cool deal...you build it. great feedback and I cant wait to finish up the prototype to see what you guys think.

mark smith
www.twitter.com/factoryfive
 

HoneyBeetle

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2009
Location
Massachusetts
TDI
2001 VW NB TDI
Yes, Chip I understand there is some risk we all take. It's reasonable, under the circumstances. Just be careful, that's all. I hate to see anyone get hurt simply because someone was not aware of something important.

Sounds like Mark has had some experience. I'm not sure about the legal fees (that's quite a bit), why not have in-house counsel?

Simply bringing out a point, even if a custom kit is built by the driver, consider the passengers or others on the road. It would not be fun if your wife or best friend took it for a drive and there was some type of failure that could have been avoided had there been better, more contentious, up-front engineering, that's all.

Perhaps I'm stating the obvious to most, maybe not. Either way, I did my best to advise, that's all. Take it or leave it, just be careful. I share the road with kit cars.....and my mom and dad, my sons and daughters too. I think they are wicked sweet, I also want custom cars to be safe for all, k?

Take care and God Speed!
 

cpoore

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2008
Location
Martinsville, IN
TDI
06 Beetle and a 79 Wanderlodge with 3208 CAT
Big businesses run our country and our laws. Its a sad joke. You got people with more rights that break the rules, whether white collar or crooks. Not much difference.
I got Chronic Liver Disease... guess what. I have one option for health insurance from the company I was using before and its coverage offer is at 70% of my previous coverage for 4 times the cost ($1000mo for just me - not the rest of my family of four). Big businesses help make laws and policies to screw us over - let them all sink and go down the drain. I'm lucky in that my work provided partial salary so I can afford it, barley. All the stupid lawsuits and crap is just stupid. In my profession, I'm met more than one foreigner that just laugh at us for all the suing and think we are all little childish greedy people. I think the term they used was "sue happy americans".
 

jlphil

Active member
Joined
Nov 7, 2009
Location
Jupiter, FL, USA
TDI
1999.5 Jetta TDI CONVERTED to Smyth G3F
Got a potential donor on the radar, 1999 Jetta Mk4 diesel 5 spd. Any specific cautions to watch out for? It's a decent driver. The idea would be to drive it for work commutes until using it for the MM donor. Give me time to scope out the mechanicals/electronics and make any mods early before disassembly.

Any reason to hold out for a later-year Mk4? Thanks for any ideas.
 

ChippedNotBroken

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Location
Pocono\'s, NYC
TDI
Jetta A4 1999.5 Green
jlphil said:
Got a potential donor on the radar, 1999 Jetta Mk4 diesel 5 spd. Any specific cautions to watch out for? It's a decent driver. The idea would be to drive it for work commutes until using it for the MM donor. Give me time to scope out the mechanicals/electronics and make any mods early before disassembly.

Any reason to hold out for a later-year Mk4? Thanks for any ideas.
I have the 99.5 jetta. It is something of a hybrid and as such has a few mechanical quirks that don't always allow you to use all the A4 bits, but the biggest drawback (advantage?) is the ECU. In order to chip a 99.5 ECU it must be removed and soldered into the board, whereas later ECU's can be reprogramed via the vag-comm port. That said, the later ECU's have an immobilizer chip and the keys are a bit more difficult to duplicate.

The Map sensor is in a different (better?) place on the 99.5. It uses a different Glow plug harness (a bit more simple than later models), shift linkage is not quite as nice (IMO) as the later models. etc...

That said, not sure the differences would make much of a difference in a project like this, unless the chip programming became an issue for some reason.
 

Honeydew

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Location
Florida
TDI
13 Passat DSG
jlphil said:
I'm hoping to get a LOT of TDI education from this forum, and help in finding a suitable donor car. Thanks in advance, this will be a blast. John Phillips, Jupiter, FL
I'm almost finished parting out a non-wrecked 01 Jetta TDI, if you want the carcass send me a private message.
 

WolfTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 26, 2002
Location
Venice, FL
TDI
2000 Golf
jlphil said:
Got a potential donor on the radar, 1999 Jetta Mk4 diesel 5 spd. Any specific cautions to watch out for? It's a decent driver. The idea would be to drive it for work commutes until using it for the MM donor. Give me time to scope out the mechanicals/electronics and make any mods early before disassembly.

Any reason to hold out for a later-year Mk4? Thanks for any ideas.
John, thanks for looking at my Jetta for sale and telling me about your plans to use it as a donor.

I haven't been able to stop reading this thread and almost ruined dinner!

Mark, I am in! I have been waiting for a project just like this. If you can keep it in the ballpark of $10k, I am ready. I have a Golf that needs a new headliner, so why not get out the Sawzall?
BTW, I love the motto: Go green but go fast. You should have the copy rights to that one!
 

ARCJr

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2003
Location
East Brunswick, NJ
TDI
2000 Golf TDI "GTD"
WolfTDI said:
BTW, I love the motto: Go green but go fast. You should have the copy rights to that one!
Hmmm, maybe you SHOULD register that or trademark it as the official motto of Smyth Performance...
 

sootie

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2005
Location
North of Dayton
TDI
No TDIs for now :-(
I am in for that lovely sexy coupe you had on twitpic that is dead sexy and what I have been wanting for so long its not even funny. I love mid engine sports cars, it is my life, my love, buried in my soul. Please oh please, bring this to market.
 

mark smith

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2008
Location
wareham, ma
TDI
2000 jetta sedan, 2002 jettta wagon
go green but go fast

Go green but go fast is a service mark of smyth performance until a trademark is officially given. I love the phrase and am using it to position the company as it captures everything the company stands for whether it be a 1500hp biodiesel scarab or a 60 mpg 13 sec 1/4 mile mid engined jetta based sports car.

I have not had this much fun since starting the first ffr in my sisters garage in 1993. good times indeed.

I am buying a turbo kit for the 12v vr6 and could use input from anyone who knows about the cheap kits on ebay...i want to make sure the vr6 crowd can fit the intercoolers etc in the new car(a huge cooler for my bigger turbo tdi would not hurt either:)

mark
 

brianstrange

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Location
Tyngsboro, MA
TDI
2006.5 Jetta DSG Auto Pkg 1
In 1998, I purchased one of their first 100 Cobra units. At that time the car was in it's infantcy, but I was able to build it in 3 months flat. Unlike many of the kit car companies at the time, they were honest about complexities, and there were no strings attached. They have made kit cars that are easy to build, and affordable. I'd buy from them again if the application was suitable for my needs. This TDI kit looks cool!
 

Ian F

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Location
Croydon, PA
TDI
Jetta Wagon, 2003, Indigo Blue
Wow... how did I miss this thread... :eek:

I've been dreaming about a TDi/1.8T/VR6 mid-engine "locost" for a few years now... pretty much based on the same idea of using as much of the original car as possible (didn't think of reusing the pan, tho...). I would definitely be interested in a ready-to-go kit instead... could one DIY-build it for less? Probably. Better... I don't know, probably not... Faster? Seriously doubt it...
 

jlphil

Active member
Joined
Nov 7, 2009
Location
Jupiter, FL, USA
TDI
1999.5 Jetta TDI CONVERTED to Smyth G3F
Ian, FWIW, this is how a lot of us felt back in 1997 or so hearing about Factory Five Racing developing the one-donor concept using the Mustang 5.0. Lots of guys were 5.0 enthusiasts, the mechanical bits were proven tough, light, and capable of serious modification. Some guys dreamed of eliminating the wasted weight and bulk of the Ford Fox-body platform, and keeping the tough drivetrain intact. Factory Five's Roadster design provided a way to use all those great parts in a cool 2-seat sportscar, dropping about 1,000 lbs. of dead Mustang weight. Performance was stunning out of the box, and just got better with development.

That's why I'm so enthused to see this project moving forward. It's like deja vu all over again, only with designed-in daily-driver useability, and we get to make suggestions. I love this living in the future stuff.
 

greengeeker

Vendor
Joined
Feb 8, 2006
Location
Cambridge, MN
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS
If we're moving over to a RWD setup, wouldn't the already weak transmission (when used in highly modified drag applications) be even weaker when you have more traction?
 

WolfTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 26, 2002
Location
Venice, FL
TDI
2000 Golf
greengeeker said:
If we're moving over to a RWD setup, wouldn't the already weak transmission (when used in highly modified drag applications) be even weaker when you have more traction?
The goal of the project is to shed about 1000lbs or roughly 1/3 of the Jetta/Golf's weight. That goes a long way towards saving abusive forces on the transmission. Traction will be increased for sure but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Better traction will reduce the destructive wheel hop that usually breaks things. I know from experience. Also, if you are willing to modify your car to the extent of this vision, I have a strong feeling that installing a TBD and SMF would already be on the short list of things to do.

I can't wait to see this project develop. Who do you think has the best Black Friday deals on Sawzall blades?:eek:
 

greengeeker

Vendor
Joined
Feb 8, 2006
Location
Cambridge, MN
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS
WolfTDI said:
I know from experience. Also, if you are willing to modify your car to the extent of this vision, I have a strong feeling that installing a TBD and SMF would already be on the short list of things to do.
I'm just trying to share this experience/knowledge (albeit not my own) with Mark so he can consider adding it to his "short list" of things to do. It's part of the reason he has come to this forum.
 

mark smith

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2008
Location
wareham, ma
TDI
2000 jetta sedan, 2002 jettta wagon
weight and breakage

I have to rest on experience here as its all i have with regard to durability...the reduction in weight is a big deal...coupled with the fact that the weight/load in a front wheel drive car is loaded more to the front than people realize. The jetta is fully 65% front loaded with a 3000 lb curb weight. This car is closer to 50 50 and starts off at 2200 lbs...lets call it 1100 lbs on the rear...the jetta has close to 1700 lbs on the front..a big difference when wear and tear are looked at. Another 50% more horsepower will probably still work well...but we will all see together as I just know a few of you are buying those big turbo kits for the diesel/gasser motors.

My advice is that if you are worried about breakage....either build the bugger with mild increases in hp or watch what those of us do with the higher hp setups...i will share the good as well as the bad over the next year...promise. I love the input from the experienced tdi guys...it will save us massive headaches in the long run...thank you
 
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Ian F

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Location
Croydon, PA
TDI
Jetta Wagon, 2003, Indigo Blue
As I spent the rest of the day dreaming about this, a few things came to mind, mostly with regards to bringing the kit in at the $10K price point.

I'm guessing there will be two main buyers for kits like this. Mostly guys looking to build an inexpensive mid-engine sports car (that isn't an MR2 or a Fiero), and those looking for a sporty daily driver with good fuel mileage... and I suppose those looking for a bit of both (that would be me).

With this in mind, I'd think KISS should prevail over "that would be cool" thinking. No targa - adds complexity and leakage potential. A "classic" design over something more modern would allow for at least some parts-bin dipping from existing FFR inventory. So a 904 or Dino design may be best here. Not that I wouldn't like a car that looked more like the GTM, but a more classic design may be cheaper.

A friend of mine installed a VR6 into a Fiero last year. He had to jump through a number of hoops to get the ECU to work w/o using the VW column and ignition. He ended up getting the ECU reprogrammed. Oh yeah, he's a full-time wrench and owns a European car repair shop and has tool access (a full shop) and experience beyond the average DIY'er.

I am especially curious how a few of the more mundane things are taken care of: HVAC, roll-up side windows, secrure/dry cargo space, radio... the mods required to the wiring harness will be fun.

Do you plan to have something ready by Carlisle next year?
 

nicklockard

Torque Dorque
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Location
Arizona
TDI
2010 Touareg Tdi w/factory Tow PCKG
A few other points of consideration:

1. With a much, MUCH lighter car, you can increase power levels through chip tunes/nozzle upgrades and NOT have to upsize or upgrade the clutch.

2. With a much lighter car and less aerodynamic drag loading, you can use a lightened flywheel and not pay as much penalty in harshness.

3. With a much lighter car, you can use 89H tires, increasing your tire selection/choices. If fuel economy is important to you, this can help you in your quest for low RR tires.

4. With a much lighter car, you can use lighter wheels with lower load ratings.

5. With a much lighter car, your OEM brake performance will be more than adequate and fade should be almost non-existant.

6. With a much lighter car, you don't need to carry around as much fuel for a practical range. I think 50/75 mpg would be possible if using the 0.658 ratio 5th gear. Therefore, a 7 gallon bladder placed in the hump where the exhaust and catalytic converter used to be would be ideal. This would prevent weight (Cg) shifting which can become important for mid-engined cars.

7. With a much lighter car (and much lower aerodynamic drag load), you can safely downsize the radiator to one half its size. The stock radiator is quite oversized as it is. You could also slightly reduce coolant volume for more weight savings.

8. With a much lighter car, you don't need ANY aftermarket or upsized intercoolers, even if you're going to have a bigger turbo. The OEM one should be far more than adequate for most of us.

9. With the placement of the drive train behind the driver, you can feed cool air by underbody scoop or a side-scallop to the intercooler and intake. You can also use much shorter intake path piping/tubing as well as exhaust tubing for more weight losses.

As Amory Lovins says, when you lighten a car, you enter a "virtuous circle". I am seeing a ton of positives here and not much downside except the loss of the front crumple zones. It seems like you could even retain the OEM airbags if you wanted to. If Mark and his guys are REALLY clever, they will figure out a way to retain some crumple protection and an 8mph bumper even through re-engineering??? :)
 
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