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1.8T '90 Westy Syncro Conversion, long post.
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Beetsport Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 2:23 pm    Post subject: 1.8T '90 Westy Syncro Conversion, long post. Reply with quote

I bought a 2001 Beetle Sport new with a 1.8T engine. Only two modifications were done to the engine. A computer chip and exhaust system was changed. With these mods the engine was much more powerful and gets better fuel mileage. A blast to drive.

I then did a lot of research on this little engine. I learned that is was classed as the only Turbo that was also a Ultra Low Emissions Engine in California and also that power output could be increased up to as much as 350+ HP and gobs of torque. Reliability on these engines was also great. I've seen over 200K miles on odometers with this engine in customer's vehicles.

My '90 Syncro Westy was bought in 2000 after selling my '87 Westy. I pull a trailer during summer time and with both vans found they were very underpowered with the Wasserboxer engine. I then installed the TiiCo engine into the '90 Syncro in '05. It was the HO version. I still needed more power and better fuel economy. This TiiCo got around 17 MPG on a good day, freeway driving. It was a great engine as there was never a problem with it. We have install many of these engines. I had the A3 belt conversion and also the A2 injectors installed. (you tiico people know this lingo by now..)

We ventured into installing the 1.8T into a Vanagon Syncro about the same time my TiiCo engine was installed into my van.
This 1.8T engine just seemed to be the right choice for a Syncro or Vanagon for that matter.

A lot of thought went into this 1.8T conversion with regards to Reliability, Clearance (ground and deck lid), Power output, and Fuel Economy/Emissions. We could have went the TDI route but changing gears in a Syncro would be costly. Another reason is there are a lot more 1.8T's out there than TDI donors.

My fuel mileage is around 21+ on the freeway. This was very hard for me to find out due to the fact that "the power is there and I'm-a-gonna use it" factor. 91 octane is recommended but not needed. The 1.8T engines management system will compensate for lower cheaper fuel. Better fuel economy with better grades of fuel though. (note: My suspension is raised 2" and I'm running 215-75R15 tires)

The wiring for this conversion we build from scratch here at our shop. Your Vanagon will now have a computer diagnostic plug now located near the fuse box and a Check Engine light. The beauty of this install is the ability to take it to any shop and have it diagnosed if a problem would come about.
Charcoal canister and LDP (leak detection pump) are also installed from the donor vehicle.

You will loose some ground clearance on a 2wd van and also your deck lid will need to be raised. Basically we will need to change your engine to the Syncro configuration mounting.
On a Syncro you will not loose ground clearance but your deck lid will also need to be raised aprox. 1.5".
We have created a nice storage area for this 1.5" lost, I like to say that you now have extra storage area not you lost anything.. We can all use a little more storage huh... We also use your original deck lid for this raised section. This was important for me as I wanted it to look somewhat original.
Now your asking about the bed and this raised deck lid thing. I use memory foam to make up for the difference. It feels much better now. Should have used this stuff in the past without the raised deck lid!



We have come up with several options for this conversion.
**Skid plate for 2wd Vanagons. You may not need it at all, but some people like the piece of mind. Syncro vans, will use the original Skid plate with very slight modifications to it.
**Cruise Control with ECU Chip Upgrade. Reason for these together is because the Cruse Control stalk is used to change the engines management system from "Chipped to Stock" mode when needed.
**Also Anti-Theft system can be added with above option. This option, when activated, will cut off Fuel Injector pulse and Spark. Engine will not start. There is a special code that you input into the C.Control stalk and then the engine will start. A lot of us have many bucks into our vans. This is one way to keep them with us...
**Power Steering. All 1.8T engines come with P/S. If you did not have it we can add P/S to your Vanagon.
**Automatic transmission can not be used in California at this time due to smog laws. We understand that the 1.8T Automatic (donor)transmission would need to be used in the converted vehicle (Vanagon) as the engine ECU (computer) also shifts the transmission. Well we all know an Automatic transmission from the donor car will not fit into our Vanagons. We are working on this and will pass through this hurtle soon.
**Snorkel and Air Cleaner Box. I love the sound of a Turbo and it's Blow off valve. Some of you do not like any engine noise. We can install a Snorkel and Air Cleaner box that will virtually eliminate any noise from the engines intake.
**Inlet Scoops for Innercooler and Intake. See Pictures. These will help with power output but is not needed. For the power junkies.
**Larger Exhaust System. A turbo engine likes little exhaust restriction. With no ground clearance lost we can achieve this. See Pictures.
**A/C hook up. The 1.8T used a modern A/C compressor compared to the Wasserboxer unit. We will change your receiver dryer, flush and install 134A refrigerant to your system.
**KO4 Turbo for non CA Vanagon. The 1.8T has a KO3 Turbo. This larger KO4 Turbo will boost much more power reliably. Chip programming is needed with Turbo upgrade. Now were into the high 200's HP...
**Instrument cluster. You can use the original Vanagon cluster or use the more modern donor vehicles insturment cluster..
**Timing Belt replacement and Water Pump. We purchase donor engines have less than 50K miles on them. VW 1.8T T-belt replacement is recommended at 80K miles. We install a new water with timing belt replacements on all 1.8T's. VW uses a water pump with a plastic impeller..... We change them with a water pump that has a steel impeller..
**We also install new Ignition coil packs and spark plugs when doing this conversion.


Here we go again. Yet another conversion out there for our Vanagons.

We estimate my Syncro putting out 240 HP and 250 ft. lbs. of torque with a different intake boot to turbo. The torque is available as low as 1900 RPM. Below this RPM you will still have over the torque of the original Wasserboxer engine., or possibly other conversions or modified Wasserboxers..

This Syncro is just plain fun to drive now! It's a blast !
With the Cruise Control on and in 4th gear it will hold 65MPH going up to Tahoe from Sacramento. (note: my 4th gear is changed to .77 . I changed it when the TiiCo engine was installed. Not needed but the 1.8T has power at those lower RPM's and helps fuel mileage)

In one word to describe my Syncro now. WOW !

I sold the Beetle and bought a Audi A3 with a 2.0T engine. Here we go again. Maybe...

You can find another post on this conversion in Thesamba Vanagon section. We converted Lundy's Vanagon also.

Image does not show the plexiglass covers over extra storage compartments. You will also see some extra ducting over the innercooler located on the right rear with cooling fan.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Here is a picture of the innercooler scoop. There is another one on the intake side.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Exhaust system and ground clearance can be seen in this image.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


More pics of exhaust and clearance. This image was taken without the Syncro skid plate installed.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


This image was taken without the Syncro skid plate installed. Center of vehicle hanging down is ice from snow fun...

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


You can hear the sound of the turbo and blow off sound in this video. Note: The Syncro pulled out right after the camera was turned off. Really..


Link


Here is after getting out.


Link



Link


I shouldn't show this one... but.


Link


Another Engine View.

[img]http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b270/saha3/Enginepic.jpg[/img
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'90 Syncro Westy 1.8T with 180hp 174 torque, CA safe!
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2116800
http://H2oVanagon.com
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=217285


Last edited by Beetsport on Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:03 pm; edited 8 times in total
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fatboypaul
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you by any chance friends with Werner?
Damn good looking install.
Thanks for the pictures and the video.

Paul.
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D Clymer
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice installation! The fabrication work looks top notch. Thanks for posting all the information on this conversion. You might want to visit the VWVortex van forums. Someone there is trying to figure out what conversion he wants to do to his Syncro westy. He is thinking 8V 2.0 with an aftermarket supercharger, but I think with some input from your regarding this 1.8T swap he'd be convinced.

Again, very impressive work!

David
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Paul. Yes, Werner was our first 1.8T conversion and a big help in getting this project up and running.

A 8V 2.0L supercharged. Wow. That's gota cost. I wonder what it's putting out HP/Torque wise.

Thanks for the comments! !
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https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2116800
http://H2oVanagon.com
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=217285
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amishman
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is this you and your slick Blue Syncro, Stephan?

Looks real nice. That engine looks super powerful.

How did the BFG tires do in the ice and snow? Your videos showed you were stuck for a bit but you did get out. Did they just sit and spin or do OK in the snow?

I guess there is never a chance of us stock engine Syncro owners doing a convoy with you to SDM since you would be there in 1/2 the time we would be. hehehe. My measly 95HP (or is the stock 2.1 90HP) is not quite up to the hills like your beast is. I guess you would be forced to the back of the line and told NOT to go faster than everyone else. Yeah! right! hehehe

Have fun.

Tom in Grass Valley
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D Clymer
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm curious. How did you get around the security immobilizer? I always thought the easiest way to get around this was to use the early AEB engine, but it sounds like you used Mk 4 components.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

D Clymer wrote:
I'm curious. How did you get around the security immobilizer? I always thought the easiest way to get around this was to use the early AEB engine, but it sounds like you used Mk 4 components.


We send the ECU out to APR and they delete the immobilizer system for us and also some other codes that will keep the Check engine light on. These are Air Bag and ABS module, no communication with ECU. As you know no chance of passing CA smog with your new check engine light on. My engine came out of a '03 GTI 20th Anniversary edition. Had 35K miles on it with a bad driver behind the wheel....

Hi Tom.
The BFG's tire worked really great. The video was taken after we pulled off the road and hi-centered. I had to lock the rear diff to get the rear end to slide over to another area where there was some traction. The camera was turned off right before I got out. The second video starts out where I got out.. You can hear Mike staying that he just missed me getting out. Or something like that.

There were a bunch of Jeeps and Toyota 4-wheelers out on this non snow plowed road out there with ATV's and having, believe it or not, a BBQ just off the road. Looked like fun. Should of seen their faces as we drove by with no problems. Shocked

Can't seem to find the guy on VWVortex converting to an 8V 2.0L Supercharged....
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'90 Syncro Westy 1.8T with 180hp 174 torque, CA safe!
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2116800
http://H2oVanagon.com
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=217285
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klucz
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW that is one sweet rig!
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D Clymer
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beetsport wrote:


Can't seem to find the guy on VWVortex converting to an 8V 2.0L Supercharged....


If I linked this right, this should lead you to the thread.

http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=3091668


That's great that APR can reprogram the ECU to get rid of the immobilizer and some of the non engine related items that would trigger the CEL. So when you bring those vans through CARB, are you running with no fault codes?

BTW, I meant to ask you about your engine mount setup. From viewing Lundy's earlier post it looks like you've used early diesel carrier bars connected to a Syncro crossbar. Is this correct? Pretty clever setup.

Sounds like the new 2.0T is indeed a logical next step.

Thanks again!

David
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seans67
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now why did you have to go and do that, like I didn't have enough choices for a conversion of my Syncro. Looks real nice and I like that it is still a VW engine.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

D Clymer wrote:
Beetsport wrote:


Can't seem to find the guy on VWVortex converting to an 8V 2.0L Supercharged....


If I linked this right, this should lead you to the thread.

http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=3091668


That's great that APR can reprogram the ECU to get rid of the immobilizer and some of the non engine related items that would trigger the CEL. So when you bring those vans through CARB, are you running with no fault codes?

BTW, I meant to ask you about your engine mount setup. From viewing Lundy's earlier post it looks like you've used early diesel carrier bars connected to a Syncro crossbar. Is this correct? Pretty clever setup.

Sounds like the new 2.0T is indeed a logical next step.

Thanks again!

David


Correct. No fault codes stored after aprox 700 miles so far.

We are making our own engine mount carrier that is welded to the original Syncro cross mount bar. 2wd vans will have this cross mount bar lowered about one inch. Reason for the ground clearance loss on 2wd's.
We are now using different mounts than the 2wd version you saw of Lundy's.
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'90 Syncro Westy 1.8T with 180hp 174 torque, CA safe!
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2116800
http://H2oVanagon.com
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=217285
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1621
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks great Stephan! I guess I'll have to take my Jeep if I want to play in the snow. That is until I convince Mrs. Lundy that a Syncro is in order. Then it's back to the shop for another conversion. Thanks for the great work.

Lundy
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sandvet83
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that is just beautiful....i love it ...good job.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder who did this one?

http://www.trudelsknapsack.com/vwsyncro4sale.html

Looks to be a direction some are going.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for all your comments. sandvet83 I see where your located and thank you! This conversion was a work of love.. Very Happy

Some of you are wondering about some of the other components, like location of ECU and Canister etc.

I shot a couple pics today to show.

Behind this black metal cover is where the Charcoal Canister is located from the '03 GTI. No rocks getting through this... Left rear wheel well.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Location of ECU, GTI Relay Box and GTI Fuse Box is behind wooden cover right below A/C unit controlls. Wooden cover removed to take pic. (Yes, the burnt A/C power wire with melted fuse box is getting fixed soon)

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.




Raided deck lid with plexiglass installed. Note: not my van...

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Just for fun. "Hey, let me out of here." The months I walked by this Syncro after the other I4 was removed and waiting for the right time to do the real conversion.. Painfull ! !

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Leak Detection Pump Location behind Left Rear Tire and picture of the Canister.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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'90 Syncro Westy 1.8T with 180hp 174 torque, CA safe!
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2116800
http://H2oVanagon.com
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=217285
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the great comments of and on this page. There seems to be a lot of interest in this conversion.

To date I have about 2K miles on this engine myself with only one problem to speak of. At about 70+ the innercooler and intake scoops will flap some because of the wind. I will have to come up some way to make them more ridged right at the entrance.

I did also just add a Turbo gauge. This is fun to watch! Pressure spikes about 22psi then comes down and holds about 16psi when in chipped mode.

Automatics are still a ongoing battle here in California as far as getting them smog legal. No problems installing this 1.8T into an automatic Vanagon for other states.

APR is the chip manufacter that I am using for the computer upgrade. A couple more options I forgot about on my first post.
Flip switch EMCS. (Enhanced Modular Chipping System) Allows you to switch from Chipped to Stock on the fly.
Security lock out. You can pick a private code so no one can change your programming.
Valet setting. This setting allows you to program the compter so that when you bring your Vanagon into Valet parking (and I don't know a single Vanagon owner who would actually do this) limits the amount of boost to the turbo. Or maybe your kid wants to take if for a spin...

Thanks again Exclamation
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'90 Syncro Westy 1.8T with 180hp 174 torque, CA safe!
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2116800
http://H2oVanagon.com
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=217285
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:37 am    Post subject: Almost done.... Reply with quote

Thanks for all the help Stef. Never been so happy with a mod Very Happy .
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beetsport wrote:
At about 70+ the innercooler and intake scoops will flap some because of the wind. I will have to come up some way to make them more ridged right at the entrance.



What about some pinch welting on the leading edge of the scoops? That might make them just rigid enough...
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We are making the new scoops out of carbon fiber now and should be ready very soon Laughing

Synfalia just turned 30k on the 1.8T engine now with no hick ups to mention.
Well, Ok, the coolant hose from those great plastic tubes that always seem to break and the metal sleeve comes off, came off and made a nasty mess all over Business 80 here in Sacto..

Cheers !
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'90 Syncro Westy 1.8T with 180hp 174 torque, CA safe!
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2116800
http://H2oVanagon.com
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=217285
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

D Clymer wrote:
Beetsport wrote:


Can't seem to find the guy on VWVortex converting to an 8V 2.0L Supercharged....


If I linked this right, this should lead you to the thread.

http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=3091668


That's great that APR can reprogram the ECU to get rid of the immobilizer and some of the non engine related items that would trigger the CEL. So when you bring those vans through CARB, are you running with no fault codes?

BTW, I meant to ask you about your engine mount setup. From viewing Lundy's earlier post it looks like you've used early diesel carrier bars connected to a Syncro crossbar. Is this correct? Pretty clever setup.

Sounds like the new 2.0T is indeed a logical next step.

Thanks again!

David

That would be me. I am soooooo glad i went this route.........
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