One challenge the automotive enthusiast constantly faces is that of justifying-or defending the honor of-traditional technology against the merits and benefits of cutting-edge engineering. While the heart will inevitably remain attached to its old favorites, the brain struggles to reconcile those feelings with its tendencies toward practicality.
In the case of third-generation Volkswagen enthusiasts, the challenge is justifying use of an eight-valve motor in the face of newer, more powerful and more efficient engines available in fourth-generation vehicles. For those who like the lines of an MkIII but want to reap the benefits of running a newer motor, performing an updated engine swap has traditionally been an arduous and costly task.
That's all changed recently. Overland Parts, in Gilroy, Calif., has designed an easy solution: a complete conversion kit that relocates a 1.8t engine within the Mk III's engine bay. The Overland package represents a compete engine swap and includes everything its purchaser needs to make the conversion happen: brand-new 1.8t VW crate motor, intake, side-mount intercooler core and plumbing, exhaust downpipe, ECU and engine wiring harness. The new motor retains air conditioning, uses the existing motor mounts and interfaces directly with the car's existing 020 or 02A transmission.
Though Overland generally sells only to wholesale purchasers, the kit is available on an individual basis from purveyors such as Greedspeed in Thousand Oaks, Calif. According to Greedspeed's Anthony Gelinas, the kit really is a plug-and-play operation that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. Most of the work involved in making the swap is physically removing the old engine and bolting in the 1.8t motor and its various components. Aside from that, Gelinas said, "There's no custom wiring involved. You just connect two plugs and that's it."
The cars pictured here were both built by Greedspeed; one is a MkIV GTI equipped from the factory with a 1.8t, and one is a MkIII Golf that incorporates Overland's 1.8t kit. Each is fairly similar to the other in the scope of its modifications-at least as far as the engines are concerned.
Obviously, the centerpiece on the MkIII is its 1.8t swap. To the basic conversion package Greedspeed added an Audi TT intake manifold and TT diverter valve, Neuspeed P-Flow intake and Neuspeed turbo inlet pipe. The new ECU is modified with a custom Neuspeed chip. A full 304 stainless exhaust system from New Dimensions pipes spent gases away from the factory-spec catalytic converter. A Neuspeed N2 clutch mediates between the engine and transmission.
The MkIV car runs a pretty similar setup beneath its hood. It received a Neuspeed P-Chip, Neuspeed's Hi-Flo turbo inlet pipe and downpipe, an Audi TT bypass valve in place of the factory-issue unit and Neuspeed's P-Flow intake. The intercooler system now incorporates a lower I/C pipe from Neuspeed and a larger front-mount ABT core. Other engine bay upgrades include Neuspeed's N2 clutch, Neuspeed exhaust, a host of Neuspeed polished billet reservoir caps and paint-detailing on the engine cover, battery cover, air-deflector shroud and fuse block cover.