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Required VW vintage for Soobie swap


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5 replies to this topic

#1 stoner72

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 09:26 PM

What is the vintage of VW van required for a Subaru swap? Does it have to be from 83 (or whenever the watercooled hit the road, can't recall...) on, or can the older aircooled vans be converted? Just curious thanks...

#2 ShawnW

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 08:48 PM

If you can figure out where to put a radiator and related cooling system parts then its doable. A heater of some kind would probably be nice too so figure out where to put a heater core and fan too.

#3 sid_vicious

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 06:23 PM

I too have heard of people doing the swap into older air cooled models, but of course the wasserboxer vanagons are much easier because a coolant system is already in place. Even among the water cooled models, '86 or newer is supposed to be easiest to deal with. As a rule of thumb, I've read that you should stay away from models with round headlights and look for the square ones because they went to square headlights in '86. Keep in mind that I have NO experience with actually doing the swap, but I have been researching it a lot because I'm definitely thinking about it...

#4 ShawnW

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 10:39 PM

I too have heard of people doing the swap into older air cooled models, but of course the wasserboxer vanagons are much easier because a coolant system is already in place. Even among the water cooled models, '86 or newer is supposed to be easiest to deal with. As a rule of thumb, I've read that you should stay away from models with round headlights and look for the square ones because they went to square headlights in '86. Keep in mind that I have NO experience with actually doing the swap, but I have been researching it a lot because I'm definitely thinking about it...


I will kindof agree on the years thing but....

The headlights are cooler in the round because you can get H4 conversions from EMPI that make the rounds way brighter than the 86 and up. $17 each and worth every penny.

The 85 and up starter is more able to handle the 2.2's requirements but thats a 100 dollar item...go to an auto salvage and buy a newer starter.

The relocation of the ECU to under the rear seat starts in 85. Thats a much better place for the Subaru one too. All the same you can put the ECU there in an 84 (I did).

Otherwise the only other downside is age to me but at the same time as part of the conversion you should replace all of the cooling system, rebuild the engine or have it done, and consider rebuilding the transmission if you can afford it.

To me its just...buy the nicest van you can afford but CONDITION of the van is way more important than age. I started with an 84 for $1000, rod went out in the VW engine but van chassis had 22400 miles on it when I started which was really worth it to me..the interior looks that mileage.

If you want a Syncro of course that is an 86 and newer thing automatically.

#5 autos_by_jake

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 12:31 AM

You can convert any van you want. As it's been stated, anything with water in it already will be a great deal easier (and cheaper!). Aircooled vans take a fair bit of fabbing to make the cooling system work. I'm just finishing up an '87 Westy right now with an EJ22. The interest from my Vanagon owning customers (and random outsiders) has been almost overwhelming. A cust. just gave me a diesel '82 and I'm torn between putting a TDI motor in it or finding a WRX motor to shoehorn into it. I know that whatever powerplant makes it into the back of this thing, I'm gonna turn it into a pick-up truck. :brow:

#6 bryan_johnson

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 10:05 PM

I've got a 2003 wrx in an '85 weekender camper. A weekender is a camper with no sink/stove setup. There are a couple of weird things about an 85 camper. Some of it is more like an 84, and other parts are like an 85. Electrical diagrams sometimes are a little off.

The worst thing about an 85 is the suspension. The front springs are taller than the rears. I am in the process of swapping out the springs with some after market types. Also, VW introduced rear sway bars in later models (not sure when). The newer vans definitely handle better. I think if I was going to do a swap again I would hold out for a newer 'square headlight' van.

Bryan




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