VW van gas to diesel conversion

What diesel motor would best fit into the small engine compartment of a 76 transporter? Also, would any machine shop be able to make an adapter plate for the diesel to bolt up to the original transmission?

The vanagon of the 80’s did have a diesel engine option. Not sure if you can find a working one though as the ones that do will likely be held onto by diesel nuts.

Have you checked out a more specific forum like thesamba.com ? May have oodles of info on those who did it more likely with the vans.

Do a Google search for VW engine swaps. You’ll find lots of interesting ideas, including a VW bus with a Rover V8!

Where are you planning to put the radiator?

No simple conversion would be possible. Are you planning to spend BIG money on this?

Thanks, I will check out thesamba, I live near a guy who only deals in VW diesels (he parts them out) mostly jetta’s and rabit motors, and he knows nothing about making one fit in a van.
I’ve seen conversions with gas motors and they would put 2 small radiators on either side of the engine and run electric fans, another person ran lines all the way up to the front and made the radiator look like a front mounted spare tire (it was pretty cool).
I’m trying to do this on as little money as I can, the motor will run me about 6-700 dollars, as for the rest of it I’m not sure.

These conversions always far exeed the value of the vehicle. I would just forget about it and shop for a diesel vehicle.

Problem with the VW diesels is they’re not set up for your rwd VW. I would bet the gas conversions you’ve seen are with the water cooled VW flat four which would be a pretty easy fit. VW didn’t make a flat four diesel, as far as I know.

I don’t think logic nor fore site enters the mind of anyone when performing a conversion.

you’re right anndrew but I like a challenge, I’ve seen a Jetta turbo diesel in a van just like mine, the guy had to turn the engine slightly on it’s side about 30 degrees I think. The idea is to have a decent mpg in a small RV, my van is a transporter that someone rigged up with the camper package, right now the aircooled engine can barely make it up the east side of the Rockies.

What about improving your current engine? Lots of parts around, you could do a lot with the money you’d spend on a conversion.

Nah…The BEST VW engine swap was the Porsche engine in the old VW bug. The kit included cardboard cover where the seat use to be that made it look like the seat was still there loaded with a pile of books.

I think the conversion you’re envisioning is possible (IIRC, the diesel Vanagons basically were just Rabbit diesels shoehorned in there at a funny angle), but you are definitely not going to get the goal you’re looking for. Practically the only vehicle slower than what you’ve got now is a diesel VW Van-- they were quite possibly the slowest vehicles made in the last 30 years. A turbodiesel might be a little better power-wise but I doubt it’ll do any better than the air-cooled fuel-mileage wise.

I would strongly agree that if you want to get this van up to snuff, look at performance building the air-cooled motor. There’s a huge aftermarket for these and you will be astounded how well a fresh-built high performance air-cooled VW engine will pull compared to the tired old motor in there now.

Of course, the practical answer is ditch the VW van. The vans are great clever little camper vans, but they’re actually pretty lousy vehicles. My dad was a VW van guy forever but eventually ended up ditching his last Vanagon in favor of a full-size Dodge van which is more powerful, bigger, gets about the same mileage and is about a zillion percent more reliable. A full-size van with a V6 or even a newer one with a V8 will kick a VW van’s butt in pretty much any measure you can pick (other than quirkyness). If you’re really serious about gas mileage, look at a minivan too-- a lot of these, even the older ones, are about the same size or bigger than a transporter, but get 5-10 more MPGs

Actually another great swap has been the 2.0L Subaru WRX motor for both Porsche and VW. It fits quite well.

I googled ‘diesel vanagon conversion’, found lots of links. All the ones I found were for conversions involving the watercooled vanagon, and half the ones I found were about converting from the ultra-slow diesel to a gas engine!

The intro to the Yahoo diesel Vanagon group is as follows:

"A group for discussion of what can be the slowest vehicle on the planet.

The Diesel-powered Volkswagen Vanagon.

0-60? Maybe never."