Twin-turbo VR6?
I have not read your magazine much but was wondering if you know something. I have heard about an engine that VW makes in Germany, a VR6 with twin turbos that makes 400 bhp. Do you know if this is true? Is there any information about VW bringing it to the USA? Does VW use that engine in its GTI, Jetta, or Passat vehicles? Any info about VW bringing any of them to the USA? Can you give my any answers or specs about that engine or direct me to one of your back issue magazines? Wish I could get that engine in the Jetta with a six-speed manual trans and all-wheel-drive. Thanks.
Paul Kolb

Paul,
That sounds like quite a motor. I too would love to get a car factory equipped with a motor like that, but I'm afraid that if VW has something like that up its sleeve, it is experimental, and there are no announced plans about anything like that.

There is a twin-turbo kit made by HGP Turbonachrustung GmbH, a German company. HPA Motorsports in Canada has imported a few and installed them on a couple of project cars. It seems like a well put together kit, if a little bit of overkill. As far as aftermarket turbocharging, my experience is that a single turbo system will be more manageable as far as installation and maintenance. Have fun.


Wants to Tweak a VR6
I have enjoyed your magazine for years, and it has been very helpful. I have always sworn by VW and just purchased a 2K2 Jetta VR6 with sport package. My question is; what modifications can I do without voiding out the warranty (engine, suspension)? Thanks.
Ken Bass
Virginia

Ken,
Your question is one that comes up frequently and is a common source of confusion both in the automotive aftermarket. It is, however, one that has been completely addressed under Federal law. In 1975, the Federal government passed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Without getting into direct quotes of a bunch of "legalese," what the Act basically says (as it applies here) is that the manufacturer cannot deny a warranty claim just because you have aftermarket parts on your car. In order for them to deny your warranty claim, they must first prove the aftermarket part caused the condition you are trying to have fixed under your warranty. This applies both to aftermarket replacement parts and aftermarket performance parts.SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association, whose members are most, if not all, of the companies that manufacture and distribute both replacement and performance parts, has done a great deal to protect the rights of both performance manufacturers and performance consumers. Its Website (enjoythedrive.com) contains a great deal of information pertaining to this and other matters, and is a great resource for information.

While none of this tells you exactly what parts you can put on your car, you can be confident that if your transmission goes bad, the dealer cannot deny your warranty claim because you have smoked taillights. They may try, but that is when you contact both the manufacturer and SEMA for assistance.
Jeremy Wolf


Exhaust Truth Wanted
I am owner of a 2002 Jetta 1.8t and am currently searching for an exhaust system that will fit my car the best. It seems there was a tie between the Autotech exhaust and the Eurosport in terms of hp and torque gains, and fit. I am currently talking with RPI Equipped and as far as there concerned they think I should go with the Supersprint but as your dyno tests reveal it wasn't one of the greatest performers, at this point I only have an intake and suspension. What would be your best recommendations please, I need a professional, unbiased opinionYour response will be a big help.
Kris. M. Miller

Kris,
Well, let me first say that as far as a professional, unbiased opinion goes...professional, probably, unbiased, probably not. I have spent too many years looking at VW performance exhaust systems to not develop some very strong opinions based on my experience with the various systems available.To be straightforward, of the three you mentioned, I would without question choose the Eurosport system if it was my own car. It may not be the quietest system in the bunch, but I think the Eurosport systems fit well, are great quality, and are a great value. The dyno article you mentioned will cover all of the specifics, but I have not had the most ideal experiences with some of the other systems as far as fit or overall quality in the past.
Jeremy Wolf


Direct Hit Ignition System
I am an avid ec reader and was wondering if you or anyone else has used the Direct Hit ignition system on any cars (preferably VW)? I have an '89 GTI that is in need of some wires. Do I just stick with good quality wires or go to the Direct Hits system? Any information would be appreciated.
John Estep

John:
Well, I don't believe that any of our project cars have used the Direct Hits system. From reviewing the information on their website, it seems to me that while the execution is different, the principle is the same as another brand of plug wires that also has a capacitor effect. Reduce the duration of the spark, but use the same amount of energy to create a more intense spark.

Since I have no direct experience (no pun intended) with the Direct Hits system, I cannot tell you whether it is the correct choice for your application. What I can tell you is this: I have tested the other products on a number of applications, and on a few of them there was a measurable increase in some performance characteristic. The problem I found was in long-term reliability. While a new set of aftermarket or OEM wires will typically last as much as 80,000 miles without a problem, the capacitor type wires would need replacement in as little as 20,000 miles.

Keep in mind that Bosch has been around for over 100 years and has an extensive motorsports program. They have figured out what works and what doesn't, and for O.E. use they make a good, reliable product. It may not be the very best for performance, but it does not sacrifice reliability for a few extra horsepower.

Unless you are building a pure race vehicle and you need to squeeze every last bit of horsepower out of it, and you are willing to pay $150 to $200 for 2 to 3 or maybe even 4 horsepower, put the money somewhere else. Get a good set of O.E.-style wires that use the O.E. ends, and put the rest of the money into your basic tune-up parts. You might gain as much power.
Jeremy Wolf


Headlight Upgrade
I've purchased a 2002 Jetta GLS 1.8T , love everything about it except the candle power of the headlamps. Thought it would be an easy upgrade to research. But I've really hit a wall when it comes to adding a brighter field of vision. My question is, can I do anything to enhance the distance of my current headlamps? Yes, I've contacted the dealer and read the upgrade ads. I thought I was crazy until I read a Carpoint review of the Jetta and they mentioned the same problem.
Thom Bailey

Your best bet, although not really legal, is to upgrade your stock headlights to the stock European units (E code). For about $375 you can get them with the built-in fog light, ready to go into your car. If your car does not have factory fog lights already, you can get in touch with Virtual World Parts (www.parts4vws), and for an additional $30, they have a harness that wires into your car and plugs into your new housings to add the fog light function.
Jeremy Wolf


More VR6 Punch
I have a 2001 Jetta VR6, and Integra Type Rs and Civic Sis and Si-Rs smoke me all day. What the hell? Why is my car so slow? What can I do to gain more hp and torque. I'm from Southern California; everyone here drives Hondas. I'm thinking of trading my car in for a Honda. Maybe it'll cover the down payment if I'm lucky.
Iluminada

It is unfortunate that you feel that way about a car that has such great performance. Does your car have an automatic transmission? If so, that may be a contributing factor to your problem. Also, while we do not recommend or condone any street racing, you may want to go to one of the Southern California drag strips (There is one in Carlsbad, one in Palmdale, one in Bakersfield, and a few others I'm sure) and practice your launch and shifting techniques. You may find that you are having a lot of wheelspin when you first leave the line, or you may be letting the clutch slip too much, either of which you will need to work on. Since some of the cars you mentioned in stock form should not be beating you (the Civics especially), it may be that they have some modifications that are not evident to you. We have seen a number of Golf IV and Jetta IV VR6s making as much as 180 road horsepower in near stock form, which means that if you are at the strip against any of the cars you mentioned, if they too are still in stock form, you should beat them to the other end.
Jeremy Wolfe


Passat Parts Chase
I own a 1996 VW Passat GLX VR6. I've been disappointed in the fact that no magazines have done any mods on them, and no one seems to have aftermarket parts available aside from a few headlight lids, brake rotors and spoilers. My headlights have yellowed and I am looking for a quality glass or different better light pattern replacement housing. Can you guys/girls help me out in referring me to a place anywhere in the world that has aftermarket stuff for the 1995-97 VW Passat? I've seen some stuff for the TDI, but I'm sure a Golf or Jetta VR6 is the same as the Passat. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Dave Berg

Dave,
I can understand your frustration with the lack of coverage of the B4 Passat. While there is little I can do to remedy that situation, I can answer the concerns you expressed in your letter. As far as aftermarket parts beyond the "headlight lids, brake rotors, and spoilers" you mentioned, I can assure you that almost anything performance related you would want for your car is available. If you are looking for suspension, Neuspeed has Bilstein shocks, springs, sway bars, and stress-bars specifically for your car. For engine performance, the same range of performance parts available for the 1996-99 Golf and Jetta VR6 are also available for your car.

Be sure also to give Dave Anderson a call at Autobahn Design. He's a big Passat fan and has developed a long list of products for the line.

Your headlight problem is also one that is relatively easy to deal with; I called the same person I always do when I have headlight questions, Mike Potter at Virtual World Parts (www.parts4vws.com). Not only is he a Neuspeed and H&R distributor, he carries the European headlights for your car, which, in addition to having a much better light pattern and light output, also have glass lenses instead of the U.S.-spec plastic lenses.

He and his wife Kristen are avid VW enthusiasts and are always involved in the Passat newsgroups, and seem to have one of the best selections of aftermarket goodies for the earlier Passats, not to mention the late-model cars. Give them a call; you won't be disappointed.
Jeremy Wolf


Progressive Nitrous Oxide
I am looking for a progressive nitrous oxide system like Venom VCN 2000 or 1000. My car is the current Seat Toledo 1.6L 8V with 100 bhp. It is the same engine as the Golf or VW Jetta. Could you recommend a reputable and experienced sales channel for this in Spain, Germany or the UK? Do you have any project car that uses this system on a VW car?
Benson Loh

Benson,
While we have not used it on a project car at european car, engineering editor Dan Barnes did write an article covering the aspects of nitrous oxide systems and the Venom VCN-2000 in the October 2000 issue. You can, if you'd like, purchase back issues of european car on our website at www.europeancarweb.com. I checked with the people at Python Injection (www.python-injection.com) and they told me they do not currently have a distributor or dealer network in Europe. Their recommendation was to contact Mike at Cox Import Auto Parts (coximport.com) here in the U.S. The phone number is (336) 248-4030. Have fun.
Jeremy Wolfe


VR6 Chips I was wondering if I could get some information. I am currently driving a 2001 VR6 Jetta five-speed. What are the "chips" that are available for my engine? Do you have any stats that show different chips’ performance measures? And has anyone heard of the "stealth chip"—a chip that is undetectable to the diagnostic computers at the dealerships? And one more question, on exhaust systems: Which one proves to be the strongest, and what do you think about the Supersprint systems? Thank you for anything you can send my way.
Bryant

Bryant,
There are a number of companies which produce chips for your car, most of whom are advertisers in this magazine. The most popular seem to be Neuspeed and GIAC, but there are at least four other companies in North America making them. While I do not have any information comparing the gains from the various chips, I can tell you that if you buy from any of the reputable companies making them, they will all give you similar performance gains, and be equally trouble free. Always be wary of the company that is claiming gains significantly higher than its competition. It is unlikely it has discovered something new and magical, and it is most likely either going beyond what is safe for daily use on your car or just not being truthful.

As for the "Stealth Chip," once again stick to the reputable companies and the dealer will find no "tell-tale" giveaways when they use the VAG1551, VAG1552 or the VAG5051 diagnostic systems. There have always been some companies that have programmed their chips to show up on the diagnostic readouts, and I would recommend that you check with whomever you are planning to purchase from to make sure that their product does not do it. If the dealer is looking specifically for a chip, in the VR6 cars the only way they will realistically be able to find out is to physically open the ECU and look. It is easier on the 1.8T cars, because they only need to look at peak boost to see if the programming is different than stock, but it is definitely not so easy on your car.

On your last question, I have always liked the Supersprint products. The system they produce for your car looks very clean, and, as with all Supersprint products, is most likely going to yield some nice gains. Always check with other VW enthusiasts to see what they have had good results with.
Jeremy Wolfe


From Supercharger to Turbocharger
I'm trying to find out about using a VW G60 block/engine management with a turbo instead of the blower. I have a rebuilt 1986 Audi 5000 KKK turbo, manifold and wastegate assembly. An opportunity just came up to buy a G60 complete with everything but the supercharger. It is left over after a VR6 swap. I can't think of any problems the engine would have being turbocharged, but I'm not quite sure about the fuel delivery. Does the system adjust according to boost, or is it set according to the known supercharger output? From what I understand, the G60 delivers boost almost instantly, while a turbo spools up to boost later. If the system adjusts per boost, I can't see a problem. Would any of the performance chips be of use to this setup? The project car is a 1984 Scirocco.
John Reznik
Vernon, Canada

The G60 takes a lot of heat for being rough and noisy in comparison to the VR6 Corrado but I think the only thing wrong with a G60 is that it's using the wrong compressor. Turbochargers are more efficient, more reliable and longer-lived than the G-lader, especially as boost pressure and airflow rise.

The Corrado G60's engine is built for boost from the factory with 8.0:1 compression, special piston top rings and sodium-filled exhaust valves. It is the only Volkswagen ever to use speed-density digital fuel injection (D-Jetronic Type 3s and 4s were analog speed-density). That means it uses a manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor to determine the airflow and required fuel in the engine. The ECU cares not at all how that pressure is generated. Stock G60 boost is 8 psi, and there are a variety of kits on the market to overdrive the compressor to as much as 15 psi, claiming up to 205 bhp at the crankshaft versus the stock car's 158-bhp factory rating.

Installing a properly-sized turbocharger set to deliver stock boost pressure with well-laid-out flow paths to the factory intercooler should allow you to drive around with better fuel economy and reliability, less noise and more power than stock. No engine management changes should be required. That's a lot of work for an admittedly small change in performance, and the whole point of a turbo conversion would be to see big gains. The good news is that as the wick is turned up, the turbo's advantage over the G-charger increases.

Consult with whichever vendor you prefer, but the same tricks used to make the management work with more boost from the G60 should work for a turbo as well. The Digifant system is a close cousin of Motronic, so it should be programmable, with the right equipment and knowledge, to work well under very different running conditions than stock.

The Audi 5000 manifold, if from a 10-valve car, will bolt right up to your cylinder head. You can cut a runner off one end (I would cut the one farthest from the turbo to minimize variation in runner lengths, but check to see what fits in your engine compartment first), weld up the hole, and use it. It has the external wastegate, which enhances efficiency and increases your choice of turbos.

You could also use the New Dimensions or ATP (see below) turbo manifolds. The KKK turbo that came with the 2.2L Audi will almost certainly be a dog on your 1.8L Volkswagen. Besides, it can justly be called archaic when compared to modern turbo technology. Get a new, properly-sized turbo, even if you have to use an adapter between the manifold and the turbo flange. It will be more efficient, make more power and virtually eliminate lag, depending how well you integrate it with the rest of the system. Unfortunately, that leaves you needing intake plumbing, a downpipe, and many other bits and pieces that you'll find out about only when you're alligators-to-elbows deep in the project.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. The conversion has been done before, though. One company that has been involved many times is Advanced Tuning Products. ATP has a standard kit available using its own manifold design and a Garret T3 turbo, but can also provide advice and custom fabrication for customers with specialized objectives or constraints. George, of ATP said, "We support a lot of oddball conversions. Each customer has his own ideas about what he wants, so we provide a semi-custom solution most of the time." Working with an experienced partner such as ATP is likely to be much easier, and perhaps less expensive in the end, than just junkyard-dogging it with the parts you already have.

Advanced Tuning Products
3664 Edison Way
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 445-1682
Fax: (510) 445-1692
www.vwturbo.com

New Dimensions, Ltd.
2240 De La Cruz Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95050
(800) 637-2781
(408) 980-1691
Fax: (408) 980-1697
www.newdimensions.com


Bigger Brakes
I've heard I can upgrade the brakes on my 1996 Golf MKIII from its tiny discs to what the Corrado had. Is that true? If so, which Corrado model is the correct version to ask for? Is there an article that has the steps to do this?
Hector Maldonado
via the Internet

We actually ran an article about the very swap you have in mind in the March 1995, issue. At that time, Neuspeed had assembled all the parts required and gone a step further by upgrading to the equivalent Neuspeed high-performance parts where appropriate. That kit is no longer supplied, but Aaron Neumann told us, "Basically you rob a G60 Corrado of everything outboard of the control arm. That means rotors, pads, caliper, hub, bearings, spindle, etc. Then you install all these parts on any MkII or MkIII Golf/Jetta four-lug pattern car. What you end up with is a set of 11-in., four-lug front brakes on cars that originally had 9-in. fronts. It gives you VR6-level braking power without the VR6 weight penalty. Early five-lug VR6 cars came with 11-in. front brakes, too. Only after 1995 did they increase the size to 11.3 in." Any Volkswagen parts yard should be able to pull the parts, or you may find what you need in a self-service salvage yard. As for the step-by-step, you'll want to purchase the workshop manual for your car from Bentley Publishers. It will be well worth the money.

Bentley Publishers
1734 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-4170
Fax: (617) 876-9235
www.bentleypublishers.com


16V Camshaft Correction
A major faux pas occurred in the November issue of european car. Due to translation errors from Excel to Illustrator to Quark, the six graphs in "Tech Analysis: VW, Velocity Sport Tuing Steps Up with 16V EngineTesting" (pages 118-123) were incorrect. More than half the graph numbers (above 4000 rpm) were transposed. Torque became horsepower and horsepower became torque. Here are the corrected charts with captions. The first caption, "Euro Intake vs. Schrick 276s" is included without the chart, as that chart was correct in the original article.

1. Euro Intake vs. Schrick 276s Throw in a big cam, make it fast, right? Peak horsepower is up 11.5 bhp, but look at the torque curve, and you'll see there's more to think about. Average torque drops from 104 lb-ft to 100 lb-ft, while peak torque drops from 119 lb-ft to 114 lb-ft. The 276* cams have an advantage from 6500 rpm up! Unless you're a road racer, the Euro cam may be the better choice.

2. Euro Intake vs. Kent 258 Billet Cams With Kent's 258 Billet Cams, peak horsepower gains about 7 bhp, from 135 to 143 bhp. Look at the torque curve, though: It's clear that up to 6500 rpm, the baseline Euro intake can be a lot more fun in traffic. That said, we'd like to add that on a more lightly modified engine, the Kents were good street cams, with great torque, terrific power, and good driveability.

3. Baseline vs. Schrick 260int/276 ex Jeff Moss at Velocity isn't afraid to experiment with unusual combinations in order to learn something new. This pair increases maximum horsepower from 135 bhp to 143 bhp, while keeping average torque within about 1.5 lb-ft of stock. Jeff expected a bigger intake to be the program, but testing revealed that a milder intake and more serious exhaust is what the 16V wants.

4. GIAC Chip, Techtonics Race Header, Eurosport Cool-Flo ITG Filter: Stock Timing vs. +3 Advance Typically, the 16V is pretty happy with stock ignition timing - much happier in fact, with stock than with timing advanced. With an open header, does that change? Velocity ran this test to find out. The results are a bit of a toss up. Peak torque went up by 6 lb-ft, and peak horsepower by 2 bhp, but as the shape of the curve shows, those numbers could be a bit misleading. Hanging out on the street? We think you'd rather have stock timing. Headed for the track? Bumping it ahead could help.

5. All Out: Baseline vs. the Final ResultsWas the best saved for the last? I think yes. Starting at about 3000 rpm, this combination offers serious gains over the baseline - which was already cammed and boasting a Techtonics Tuned exhaust. It was ready to go, thank you very much. Well, this combination is ready to go quite a bit quicker. With an open Techtonics Tuned header, GIAC chip, Eurosport Cool-Flo with ITG foam filter, and most importantly, a 260 intake and 276 exhaust cam from Dr. Schrick, this combination tops out at a 147.6 bhp at the wheels, a gain of 11 percent over the 135 bhp baseline. Average torque jumps from 87.2 lb-ft to 114.6 lb-ft, a whopping 31 percent. That's a difference you will feel. Unfortunately, this is not a streetable version: It is racetrack ready only, as loud as it is stout. Tack on a Techtonics Tuned exhaust, though, and the peak horsepower drops by a mere two ponies. It took a lot of testing, but I think you'll find this is a great combination for a serious 16V.


Digifant Dismay
I have a 1992 Jetta GL, with, much to my dismay, Digifant Injection. I like the car quite a bit and until someone gives me a 1.8T, I'll be driving this one--still it could use a little more power. Recently I saw a letter titled "Digin' Around" requesting info on how to upgrade the performance of such a car. Based on your reply (ec "Tech Letters," June 2000) I have a number of questions:

1) You state the Digifant system does not like aggressive cams. Would the addition of a reprogrammed chip alleviate this problem? Or would I be better off getting a Cam Adjustment Pulley (Techtonics or Neuspeed, any preference?) and either leaving the stock cam or upgrading and using the adjustment to dial in my power?

2) Your final total horsepower rating is something like 120, does that include the addition of the chip upgrade and cam or just the exhaust work and hotter spark plugs?

3) What about changing the Digifant out for another system? Is that a possibility? Which might you recommend?

4) Finally, what about the stock braking system? I've added drilled and slotted 9.4s with Mintex pads up front, but still have the drums in the back. Will this system cope with the increased power? If not, what are my upgrade choices?

Thank you in advance for any suggestions or help you can provide.
Greg Rogers
Wilmington, Delaware

For starters, Greg, if you enjoy the car, enjoy it. Don't worry about what we, or anybody else says. Digifant ain't so bad, and you really lose only a handful of horsepower, if that, to any other systems. Read what we have to say about your questions, and you'll understand what we mean. Now, for those questions:

1. Indeed, Digifant equipped engines do not like aggressive cams. Very true. In fact, neither do CIS injected engines nor Motronic injected engines. Here's why: all three injection systems measure the airflow into the engine in order to decide how much fuel to inject. If the air flows smoothly, it's measured correctly, and the engine works well.

If an aggressive cam is fitted, there can be pulses in the intake tract that flow backwards from the inlet valve. These same pulses give a hot cam that cool, rough idle. The problem is that the pulses confuse all three injection systems' air metering, and typically make the car lose substantial amounts of bottom end power. Honestly, no amount of top end power makes up for a substantial loss at the bottom end, especially on the street. As you've probably figured out by now, a chip can't change the facts we've stated above.

What about an adjustable cam advance? It is conceivable that an adjustable cam advance pulley like the Techtonics or Neuspeed unit could help the bottom end, but it would be at the expense of the top end. That is the way adjustable cam timing works: it "rocks" the power curve, stealing from one end to build on the other. The end result is typically no real gain.

When is an adjustable cam advance pulley a good idea? When a cam is designed or ground incorrectly, or the engine has been modified, and the timing marks won't line up. Since quality cams like the Neuspeed, Techtonics and Schrick cams are designed and ground correctly, it is unlikely that you'll find any serious gains with a cam advance wheel.

You can expect about 120 bhp on a 1.8 Digifant car with a chip, exhaust, cam and colder (not hotter) spark plugs. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that gain is one you will notice and enjoy. We'd probably go for the exhaust, then the cam, then the spark plugs, and finally the chip if we were tuning one.

Should you change out the Digifant for an earlier or later injection system? You're talking about a big job here, Greg, and not something to be taken on lightly. First, there's the legal ramifications--simply put, it's not legal to change the fuel injection system. Second, it's an enormous job that takes someone with expertise and patience - or both. Finally, it's unlikely that another system will add much more power, or even allow you to add much more power.

It's a good idea to think about upgrading brakes--you've already done the first step. The next step we'd take is to go to either 10.2 or 11-in. Either is a straightforward swap, and a number of tuners carry the parts to fit the bigger factory brakes on your car. It's the most cost effective way to go.

Do you need rear discs? Not really. The front brakes do 80 or 90 percent of the work, so going to the trouble to swap out and put in rear discs probably won't give a very big gain.

Digifant isn't all that bad, as you've already figured out by enjoying your car, and a 20 percent power gain is one you can feel and will enjoy. Happy Digin'.


VR6 versus 1.8T
First, I'd like to compliment your magazine on its objective, as well as passionate, dealings with what are no doubt the best cars in the world. As a four time Volkswagen owner, I've obviously grown to love VWs of all kinds. From that first test drive back in 1988--which led me to give up my Ford Escort, as well as swear off any Japanese car--I've never looked back. I've watched (and cheered) as Volkswagen woke up and began swinging back at the competition from the other side of the Eurasian continent, starting with the awesome VR6 back in 1992. These last 2 years have made the 10 year wait well worth it.

After seeing and driving every derivative of MK4 available (VR6, 1.8T, 2.0L and 1.9 TDI), I've narrowed down my choices for the successor to my '93 Passat: It's between the 1.8T and the TDI in Golf GLS form. As powerful as these motors are for the price (that's important right now), they are godsends!

However, if I could afford it, the VR6 would be my ultimate choice. I've read your articles comparing the 1.8t and the VR6 and agree with most of what is said. However, as fantastic as the 1.8t is, not to mention tuner friendly, the saying "There's no replacement for displacement" is a rule that cannot be overlooked.

To be fair, one must remember a few important differences between the 1.8t and the VR6: The 1.8t has five valves per cylinder, while the VR6 has only two. Secondly, the 1.8t has that "t" factor, forced induction, artificially pumping up its ability to "flow" air. You mentioned 150 bhp from the 1.8t versus 174 bhp from the VR6; remember the 150 bhp for the 1.8t is usually measured at the wheels, while the VR6 is at the crank. (A work of semantics by VW, of course). This means the engines are actually pretty even when measured at similar points.

Since that turbo is key to the 1.8t's stellar performance, limiting the VR6's ability to come up with similar cost effective gains by simple naturally aspirated bolt-ons (cams, chips, exhaust, intake, etc.) is not really fair. Forced induction must be the first stop in potential power per dollar comparisons. The $4,000 needed for a 1.8t KO4 upgrade, netting 230- to 240 bhp, can be equaled by an AMS or EIP supercharger system (or even a Stage 1 turbocharger) for a VR6--with similar results. With 8 to 9 lb of boost, a supercharged VR6 would achieve 270 to 300 bhp with some serious bottom end torque.

If you boost the 1.8t to 12.5 psi for 240 bhp, you can also do it to the VR6. You'll need an intercooler to do it, which adds another $2,000 to the VR6 upgrade tab. However, you'll now find yourself at 350 to 370 bhp with V12 territory torque at around 420 lb-ft.

What's the point in all this? I'm just making sure that in the celebration of the birth of the 1.8t (and I'm happy, too!), we don't suddenly leave the VR6 behind like it was yesterday's news. I've lived with a VR6 for nearly 200,000 miles and quite enjoy not worrying about changing timing belts every 60,000 miles.

One last point: It's interesting to note VW has chosen the VR6 platform as the basis for most of its future engine configurations--VR5, VR8, VR10--as well as a host of new "W" engines. The 1.8t will remain a link back to the glory days of the inline motors, and there's no doubt it is the crowning achievement of those motors.
Jon Council
via the Internet

We love your enthusiasm, but find your numbers to be a wide slice of pie in the sky. First off, both engines are rated by the factory at the flywheel. Most tuners do say that the 150 bhp 1.8t tends to be more powerful than its official rating, though, which we consider to be in its favor.

We called Neuspeed and were told that the MSRP on their K04 upgrade kit for A4s and Passats is either $1880 or $1850, depending on throttle type. Kits for the transverse engines should be priced similarly when they arrive. AMS' VR6 supercharger is no longer listed on their website, while EIP's site lists two VR6 turbo kits. Stage I retails at $5495 and is rated at 330 hp, while Stage II runs $5995, and is rated at approximately 370 hp.

The Z-Engineering VR6 supercharger we tested in November retails for roughly $3900, runs 6 psi of boost, and produces 213 bhp and 199 lb-ft at the wheels. The AMS 1.8t chip we tested in the September issue builds 1 bar (14.7 psi) of boost and delivered 154 bhp to the wheels. Now for the waving of hands: Optimistically assuming some linearities that don't really apply between displacement, airflow, and engine output, we can go by pressure ratios and see 322 bhp from a VR6 at 12.5 psi. More realistic, but still optimistic, is to assume equal performance under boost and find a 2.8L at 15 psi putting 240 bhp to the wheels.

Using a typical 15 percent rule, that's only 275 bhp at the flywheel. I would expect to see less in the real world, and we hear reports of many turbocharged VR6s dying early and dramatic deaths. Also, none of this has mentioned the handling advantage of the 1.8t that cannot be changed by adding power. We like VR6s, too (Les Bidrawn still likes them better than the 1.8t), but stand by the comparison. There is room in the world for fans of both engines, and we hope to see them both for a long time to come.


Fond Memories
Les Bidrawn's December 2000 article on his newly acquired 16V GTi had me in tears. Being a former owner of an '89 GTI 16V, I grew accustomed to being stranded in the middle of intersections while inhaling governmentally illegal and unidentifiable bio-toxic fumes. My "piece of shit" didn't quite make it and is now probably a couch in some art deco studio (or sitting in your garage).

For the love of God I can't understand why I miss that car so much. I will relive those fond memories through your restoration--I can't wait!
Marc Carone
Queens, New York


High-carb Diet
Let me first congratulate you on an outstanding publication. I always eagerly anticipate the postman's arrival each month in hopes that the newest edition of european car is with him! I am in desperate need of jetting information for my 1985 Scirocco. I have 40mm Weber DCOE carburetors. The motor is a 1.8 with high compression, hydraulic lifters, Techtonics 268* cam, BroSpeed headers and Techtonics exhaust. Since my side-drafts have no vacuum provision for the distributor, I retrofitted a knock-sensing ignition from a 1985 Audi 4000S. (Sans the lambda system, obviously. Yes, it works like a champ!) I have 110 main jets and 45 F9 midrange. Running Bosch WR8DP's, the plugs get black but do not foul. Full throttle power is okay. I am just unsure if it needs smaller mains or midrange or both. I have tried asking some of your advertisers, but naturally they stick with fuel injection. Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Eric Yarbrough
Tampa, Florida

The primary distributor of Weber carburetors in the U.S. is Redline Weber. The company supports its product well, and will assist any enthusiast who contacts it for tuning information. E-mail is the preferred, most-efficient contact method, and phone calls are returned on a priority basis, i.e., customers who have purchased product recently are handled first. A standard beginner's document will be sent with basic tuning information. As well, a more thorough "Weber Technical Manual," p/n 95000054, which contains parts diagrams and technical advice for all Weber carbs, is available from any Redline Weber dealer. As one who knows a bit about fuel injection but is something of a "fuel" when it comes to carbs, our Engineering Editor, Dan Barnes, would make Redline Weber his first stop on the road to enlightenment. One advantage Redline Weber has is current information--as conditions and gasoline quality change, the company is able to stay on top. Older information sources may not deal with topics of emerging relevance.

Redline Weber
6300 Gateway Dr.
Cypress, CA 90630
(800) 733-2277, x7457
redline@redlineweber.com
www.redlineweber.com

There are also several potentially quite useful books on Weber carbs. These should be available through any traditional or web-based book retailer:

"Weber Carburetors"
by Pat Braden
ISBN: 0895863774
Berkley Publishing Group 1987
Paper; 173pg

"The Haynes Weber Carburetor Manual"
by John Harold Haynes, Don Peers and Robert Maddox
ISBN: 156392157X
Haynes Publications Inc. 1996 Paper

"How to Build and Power Tune Weber & Dellorto DCOE and DHLA Carburetors"
by Des Hammill
ISBN: 1901295648
Veloce Publishing PLC 1999
Paper; 112pg


Beater-car Showdown
It's time, I think, to throw caution to the wind, some salt over one shoulder and, with much fanfare and chest-chest thumping bravado, give a little well-deserved space between the pages of ec to a "Beater Car Beat-down"!

Yes, good folks, that's right. Bring Les' GTI, something from EuroSport's fleet (I'm sure Raffi has a thing or two laying around collecting dust), my own 1983 Porsche 944, and whoever else around the office has a fast daily driver, and let's all rumble at the nearest track willing to be disgraced by our presence.

Make the rules fairly simple: If it didn't come with it, it can't be used. No aftermarket turbos or nitrous, no "Hand of God" brake upgrades, no "well Billy Joe Bob put that there V8 in some other car so why not mine"-type backyard conversions. Just a simple, honest, run-what-ya-brung-to-work gymkhana, and for crying out loud, no outright cheating, please!

Seats and safety equipment could be allowed as long as it's done tastefully and with the interest of SPORT driving in mind (no fuzzy dice or woven bead-seat covers). Naturally, we'd have to exclude anything newer than 8-model-year's old, because it would be nice if an actual "beater" surfaced as the champion, wouldn't it? Besides, I'd really like not to get my clock cleaned by Project M3 (although that would make a nice dollars-to-performance comparison to an old 944 in a sidebar).

Basically, I think my 143-bhp, "Car-of-the-Year" from yesteryear can beat up on your GTI and other assorted mangy scoundrels, like Alfas, Audis, and the odd 325e, i, or any other vowel. What's a V-Dub got that mine doesn't except for 8 more valves and power steering (not to mention properly functioning a/c!)? What's a 944 have that the GTI doesn't? Wheels driven from the proper end of the car, more unhealthy pounds, a Porsche tradition of excellence, and gobs more torque! (Les, you remember torque, right? Its what's missing when you first press the gas pedal to the floor.) We could even set a dollar limit on the whole shebang; say car and modifications cannot exceed $4,000? Oh, and no R-compound tires. How would it look for the beater cars to be pulling more g's than ec's Project M3?

I think an "Older, but Bolder" article would be fun to do, fun to write, and fun for the readers, who you could encourage to weigh in through the website with their votes for the "looker" of the group, to be tallied with the final competition scores. Post the pictures of the cars, drivers, and the specs for each (car, not driver) and let your readers have a say before the competition even starts. Give about a month or two for the "web preliminaries" and to get the cars into fighting trim, then "Cry, 'Havoc!" and let loose the dogs of war!" I eagerly await your response. The gauntlet has been thrown with a resounding thud....
Eric Eikenberry
(Author of the infamous "Long Live the King" letter about the Turbo GTI, my only previously published piece in your magazine, and owner of one slightly less-than-perfect-but-slowly-getting-better 1983 994)
Blythe (Hot, hot, damn hot!), California


UQ Test
Back in the late '80s/early '90s, when I was in college at San Diego State University, all I wanted was a Rabbit GTI. I was driving my dad's '66 Mustang and throwing tons of money into it in an unsuccessful attempt to make it handle like a "new" car. In 1992 I finally purchased my silver 1983 GTI and loved it. I bought a Bentley manual and a Techtonics Tuning catalog and started buying what things I could afford. In 1994, I finally plugged in a brand-new, Brazilian-made 2.0L bubble block. What you have to understand is that I had wanted to do this engine swap for what seemed like forever! The engine worked great and gave me some nice additional power. For some reason, I sold the car in 1995 because I thought I needed to get a new car. I always regretted that mistake.

Last year, I bought a clean '81 Scirocco S and plugged in a used JH engine with a 2H tranny. My wife and I had just bought a 1999 VR6 Jetta for her, so now it was time for me to get a new toy to play with.

Then, at the beginning of this year, I was looking through the local AutoTrader, found my old GTI complete with the 2.0L and other mods still intact. I bought it back from the guy I sold it to, with the intention of swapping everything over to my newly acquired Scirocco. Life is good!

So my old 2.0L is disassembled on the garage bench and I'm going to have the components balanced before I reassemble it. I'm also working on getting oversize pistons in a 10:1 compression ratio. The engine is currently 8.5:1. And yes, I have been referring back to my old back issues to help me through the process. This is something that I've also always wanted to do--rebuild an entire engine. And I owe it all to you people who have put together VW&P/european car over the past 13 years. You guys have actually helped to make my life a whole lotta fun.

In fact, when I got my first job out of college in 1993 (when job hunting was tough) as an Assistant Production Control Manager, the reason I was picked over the other candidates was because I mentioned that I had recently replaced the clutch in my car. When they asked where I had learned to change a clutch, I told them that I learned from magazines and a couple of books. It was actually by learning from your magazine! Apparently, they were impressed. I'm now the Plant Manager of that factory, so thank you for everything!

I do have a question for you that I cannot find the answer to and would really appreciate your help with:

My 2.0L engine is marked with the code "UQ." It doesn't have any VW or Audi "ring" markings on the block, but it does on the crank and rods. What car was this engine used in? Also, what are the output figures for this engine in stock form with an 8.5:1 compression ratio? And is this engine the same as the 3A that people talk about?
Theron
via the Internet

We love to hear stories like yours. Some of the younger staffers here read the magazine and took inspiration from it through school as well, so we know exactly how you feel. As for your question, we asked the parts interchange experts at Autotech where the engine code "UQ" came from, and they could find no record of it. The closest they got was "UO," for a Type-3 aircooled engine. By the time this hits the stands, you'll probably already be back to burning up the road. We're sure the smile on your face will be as big as the ones your letter put on ours.

Autotech Sport Tuning
32240-E Paseo Adelanto
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(800) 553-1055
(949) 240-4000
Fax: (949) 240-0450
www.autotech.com


Headliner Woes
Do you know where I can buy a solid ceiling liner for a MKII Volkswagen? I have a 1988 Jetta GLI and the ceiling liner has given way.
Guillermo Matos
Laurel, Maryland

To find solutions for restoration-related problems such as yours, we often turn to the pages of Hemmings Motor News, the ultimate classifieds. We were able to quickly find several companies offering headliners for Saabs, and one for Volkswagen. While vacuum-molded, rigid-plastic headliners are available for certain GM applications, we were unable to find them for European makes.

Calling one of the companies, we were told that the headliners droop because the foam used as padding between the cloth and the rigid support material decays, and that replacements typically last about the same length of time as the original before experiencing the problem again. We were also told that smoking in the car accelerates the problem.

We suspect there may be higher-quality foams available, though likely at higher cost, which would withstand the high temperature conditions of an automotive interior. You may find that you have to experiment to find a DIY solution. As usual, a web search engine returned many pages of results for "car headliner." For basic replacements, here are some companies we would try contacting:

Headliner Mart
4774 Sally Dr.
San Jose, CA 95124
(408) 978-5103
www.headlinermart.com

Hydro-E-Lectric
5475 Williamsburg Dr., Unit 8
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
(800) 343-4261
(941) 639-0437
Fax: (941) 639-0376

World Upholstery & Trim
(800) 222-9577
(805) 988-1848
Fax: (805) 278-7886
www.worlduph.com

Hemmings Motor News
P.O. Box 100
Bennington, VT 05201
(800) 227-4373 ext. 550
(802) 442-3101 ext. 550
Fax: (802) 447-1561
www.hemmings.com


More Displacement, Please
Why doesn't anyone offer a larger displacement kit (2.0L) for the new 1.8t engines?
Eric S. Cyr
Portland, Maine

That is a question we have been wondering about for some time. The 1.8t is built on basically the same bottom end as any other watercooled Volkswagen. Before the 2.0L cross-flow era, stroker motors were, if not widely built, certainly widely available and aspired to. Both 16V and 8V 1.8L engines could be built to just over 2.0L, while 2.0L engines could be stroked to 2.1L. Perhaps these have not yet been built for the reason that with naturally aspirated engines there really is no replacement for displacement, while turbocharged engines almost always have the option of turning up the boost. Just this morning, ec's own Dynojet recorded a pull in which a street-driven, front-wheel-drive 1.8L car put 491 hp to the wheels.

It may well be that with properly engineered turbo systems, more displacement is not required. It's still worth pointing out that, new for this year, in Europe only, the 20V non-turbo engine is available as a 2.0L. It may be only a matter of time before those short blocks start making it over here and begin being built for boost.

A perhaps more readily available solution would be the bottom end from an old 2.0L U.S.-model engine--such as the 16V or the 8V Audi--with some custom pistons. One tuner we have heard from has mentioned plans along that line. We'll be the first to let you know when it happens.


Don't Want to Say Good-bye
Thanks for a great magazine. I've been a subscriber since the VW & Porsche days, and am currently driving my 13th Volkswagen. It's a '91 GTI with the 2.0L 16V engine and the Recaro interior package. After 9 years, it still puts a smile on my face while driving the same twisty stretch of road every morning on the way to work. It has 185,000 very well, but not fanatically, maintained miles. I've kept every service record in case the next owner needs me to justify the price, but therein lies the problem.

Move on or fix it up? The only thing it really needs is some minor rust taken care of and a good paint job. About a year ago, I went through and took care of everything mechanical. My question is, will this 2.0L hold together long enough to justify the cost of the body work? Sure, I'd love to have a new VR6 or 1.8t, but I have a house payment and a teenager instead. This car is the last of the fun GTIs in my opinion (and Les Bidrawn's, judging by his project series), and I would hate to see it just go away. I'll take any and all advice in the manner in which it is given.
Terry Stevenson
via the Internet

Your problem exactly mirrors engineering editor Dan Barne's own current situation. His old beater is 16 years old, with a quarter-million miles. The engine has been replaced once with a lower mileage used one, as an alternative to freshening up the original at the same odometer reading your car has now. Particularly important, it's beginning to hint about a very pleasing old-car smell, like the 1974 Fiat he used to have, or tech editor Brendan Lopez's Alpina 2002. Some of the stories the car can tell are best not publicly distributed, but we've had a good life together. While contemplating what he might do with it, Dan stumbled upon a conundrum. When he lists everything that needs to be replaced, it seems like almost a whole car.

At the same time, when listing all the good parts that improve the average condition of cars like Dan's--thus justifying stripping them off so they could make another car better--it also seems like nearly a whole car. Dan's car has been well cared for and avoided any accident as serious as a fender bender. Apart from a few small dents, countless rock chips on the front, and faded redness, the body is rust-free and straight. The interior is good. The problem is that nearly everything mechanical is worn out, and making just the body and paint 100 percent would cost far more than the car is worth. It turns out machines get old, even if driving them still makes you happy.

You and Dan are in similar predicaments. Your question was, will your 2.0L hold together long enough to justify the cost of the body work? That depends on two things: The level of intensity with which you have driven the car, and what you will consider satisfactory performance in the future. Certainly, your car is well past its designed-in life cycle. You have ameliorated that condition by "going through it" mechanically, but you are likely to find that various electrical components, interior parts, etc., will require replacement as well.

Engines that are maintained well sometimes go well past the quarter-million mile mark, while others expire before the magic 100k. But toward their end, a level of performance that would satisfy, say, your mom, probably won't provide the clean, punchy pull that puts the smile on an enthusiast's face. To be really satisfied, you will probably need to plan on both having the bodywork done and rebuilding or replacing the engine.

If you love your car, you will probably be frustrated with a halfway measure, whether it is pretty but runs like a senior, or runs like a college all-star but shows sags and wrinkles in its skin. Given that, neither option is likely to be more cost effective in the long run, as far as providing transportation, than simply trading your GTI in for a newer car. Writing the checks to have both done properly will be downright painful. In the end, only you can decide whether another 100,000 miles behind the wheel of a car you love is worth the sacrifice today.


To Chip or Not To Chip
I am looking to purchase a new GTI 1.8T this summer and would like to plan some modifications. With the success of the 1.8t, there have been a lot of articles about getting more power from the 1.8t engine. One thing that I have noticed is that the cars shown are already modified. What are the steps to putting in a new ECU chip for the 1.8t? In what order can a car be modified if the owner wishes to put in a chip and exhaust? Can I put in just the chip, or do I need additional parts to adjust the fuel pressure? Last, but not least, what do these modifications do to the life of the car? Am I to assume that by doing any modifications to a new car that any and all warranties are void?
Stephen S.
via the Internet

The beauty of increasing a 1.8t's output with a simple ECU upgrade is the simplicity of the procedure. While the ECU must be sent to the chip tuner to have either a new chip or a socket, which allows swapping chips, soldered in place, the actual task of removing and replacing the ECU is only a little more involved than, say, checking the oil. We've never bothered to illustrate it, because on most cars it's a 5-minute procedure with a 1/4-in.-drive ratchet and maybe a screwdriver. Other cars require some disassembly of the dash or cowl to remove the box, but it's not difficult in any case. If you consider yourself a competent mechanic, go for it.

While most basic software-only upgrades for the KO3 turbo will run fine with a stock exhaust, most chip tuners will recommend an upgraded system. Any chips should perform better with a free-flow exhaust, something that is true of any turbocharged engine. The order of installation isn't critical, but I would do the exhaust first.

If a chip is engineered to operate with higher fuel pressure than stock (because the stock injectors can't deliver adequate fuel at the higher boost the chip runs), by all means change the fuel-pressure regulator to the chip maker's recommendation (which should be included with the chip). Of course, this must be done at the time of chip installation. If that is not done, you can count on either doing damage due to lean running, or having a very unhappy ECU that throws trouble codes because it can't get the mixture right. Working on a vehicle's fuel system is not necessarily difficult but involves non-trivial safety issues, requiring careful adherence to proper procedures. If doing the work yourself, ec suggests you consult an appropriate workshop manual. The standard recommendation is the manual published by Robert Bentley, which can be obtained directly.

Bentley Publishers
1734 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-4170
Fax: (617) 876-9235
www.bentleypublishers.com

Chip manufacturers will tell you that their software upgrades do not shorten engine life, as long as an enthusiast's normally rigorous maintenance schedule is maintained. On the other hand, in a conversation regarding 1.8t software upgrades, one of Audi's product planners explained that Audi discourages modifications of this sort. Audi's reasoning is that much careful development and testing has gone into ensuring that the company's products will provide satisfactory service for the life of the vehicle. With "foreign" software, Audi can no longer stand behind any affected parts of the vehicle and, by extension, the ownership experience. That does not mean that all warranties are voided by any modification. Official policy is generally that modifications to one system of the vehicle will void the warranty on any affected systems, but not to unrelated systems. Defining what systems are affected is a matter for argument and, if reader letters are a guide, Volkswagen dealers are typically unwilling to be helpful in such matters. Obviously, dramatically increasing engine output will have some effect on clutch, transmission and driveshafts, but what about brakes? Are they more likely to have problems because they are asked to slow a faster-moving car? Is suspension asked to do more? In recent years, with increased complexity and computer control of all vehicle systems, the issues have become even stickier. You would think that the engine is unrelated to the power windows, but it turns out that in many vehicles, the windows are tied to the anti-theft program, which is built into the primary ECU controlling the engine. Will engine software modifications accidentally knock over a bit that controls the windows? Hopefully not, but it's a possibility a technician can't overlook when diagnosing a problem. The only answer we can really give you is simple, but not all that helpful. The degree of warranty service you obtain with a modified--or stock, for that matter--vehicle depends mostly on which person at which dealership you deal with, and what kind of a mood he or she is in that day.


Cold-weather Warm-up
I have read numerous on-line forums that discuss whether or not warming up your car in cold weather is a good practice. I'm interested in hearing from your staff as to whether or not this practice can hurt a vehicle's engine.

Secondly, as member of an online club for Passat owners, there is a lot of discussion about suspension changes that lower the vehicle. Does this change the drag coefficient of the car, which, from what I understand, is one of the lowest in the industry, and if so, would it be for a positive or negative result?
Ian Evans
Durham, New Hampshire

Warming up your car is inevitable; the question is about how to do it. Basically, a modern, electronically injected car should be cranked and allowed to start with no throttle input, and allowed to turn over at an ECU-determined idle speed until oil pressure comes up and that precious lube starts getting where it needs to go. This process is significantly speeded up by the use of synthetic lubricants, which maintain nearly room-temperature viscosity at very low temperatures.

Once the engine is lubricating itself, the goal is to reach normal operating temperature as quickly as is possible and safe. This is done by driving away gently until the car reaches operating temperature. Limit rpm to moderate speeds until the temperature needle has indicated normal for a couple of minutes, as many temperature "gauges" move to "normal" as soon as the coolant starts getting warm and don't move above that until damage is impending.

Sitting at idle after starting the car does warm the engine, but only slowly. It doesn't pump heat into the cat, so cold-start emissions remain high longer. As well, only the engine is being warmed up, something that is required by the entire vehicle. Any and all moving parts--tires, brakes, suspension, power steering and transmission--work properly at temperatures well above freezing. Most are heated only by using them. So the answer is, warm up the entire vehicle by driving away soon after starting, but do it gently.

A traditional rule of thumb for aerodynamics was to pretend that the frontal area of the vehicle included the rectangle of area between the tires, the lowest crossmember/airdam/floorboards and the road. This was because the underside of vehicles was so unaerodynamic, air that had to move past it had a heck of a bumpy path to travel. With this assumption, lowering the vehicle reduces the vertical height of that rectangle, reducing the effective frontal area of the vehicle. The predictive ability of that rule has been modified significantly as automakers have given increased attention to underbody aerodynamics. Not just Ferraris have smooth belly pans anymore.

However, the general principle that lowering a vehicle reduces aerodynamic drag remains valid. Reducing the amount of air that finds its way under the car with an air dam or splitter also reduces drag, as well as improving cooling by helping give hot engine compartment air, which passes through the radiator on its way in, somewhere to go.


Turbocharging an A2 8V GTI?
I've been an ec reader for about 7 years, and with the knowledge and insight that your articles and tech letters provided I have properly upgraded my 1992 8V Digifant GTI with all the standard bolt-ons. With the exception of intake and exhaust, my 95,000-mile 1.8L 8V engine is stock. I think it's really strong and very quick right off the line, but I'm now ready to put some real power down. I've read all of the recent turbo articles featured in ec and in VW Power and they made me wonder: Can I turbocharge this little 8V beast?

I've managed to get hold of a homebrew turbo system that was on an A3 2.0 crossflow Golf before it was sold for a Turbo Beetle. I have the intercooler, VW diesel turbo, oil cooler, modified oil pan, pipes, adjustable fuel pressure regulator, etc. I know it all works, but will it fit? I'm not keen on switching my GTI head to the 2.0 crossflow head, especially since the current engine is such a powerhouse. But remaining faithful to the GTI head would mean lowering the compression ratio, not to mention a motor-mount retrofit (involving relocating and welding a rear motor mount from a Rabbit into my Golf) so that the turbo, installed upside down, will have enough clearance. I have scoured the web for any info that I can find, but there isn't much out there. I've checked out www.8Vturbo.com and it does offer a turbosystem for the 8V Digifant. Am I looking for a headache taking this turbo route? I know that turbocharging works well on the 8V Rabbit and 16V GTI.

Would I be better off to sell the turbo system and stay naturally aspirated? I would put the turbo money toward a hot cam, adjustable cam gear and some higher-flow fuel injectors. Keeping in mind that all of my other upgrades were done on a budget, I don't want to go spending crazy! Keep up the great work; it is invaluable to us DIY-ers. By the way, Digifant fuel injection isn't as bad as everyone thinks. If you have problems with it, check out www.members.tripod.com/~fuelie/.
Steve C.
Via the internet

Can you turbocharge your 8V engine? Absolutely. Will the turbo kit you have acquired "fit" your engine? No. Even if the plumbing would bolt in place (it will require at least minor changes, as your intakes and exhausts are in different locations--and what about the exhaust manifold?), the answer would remain "no," in the same sense that a wheel that physically bolts onto your car may not "fit." It is essential for good performance that a turbo be sized properly. The Volkswagen diesel (we assume you mean TDI) is all done by 5000 rpm, which is where you want your engine to be in the meat of its horsepower and torque. We strongly suspect that whoever brewed up that turbo kit didn't really know what he was about. Turbo selection is perhaps the single most important part of designing a turbo system. It is a complex subject that ec has addressed many times in the past and will continue to do so in the future--we plan on keeping readers apprised of the constantly changing rules.

Early turbocharged waterpumpers were based on a kit designed by Callaway. As that company followed the money with more expensive cars, and emissions inspections became more commonplace, the popularity of this system decreased. However, we can't remember seeing an 8V turbo setup that wasn't at least loosely based on the Callaway kit, and most of them still use its manifold or a close copy of it.

Any turbo kit you install should be a fairly easy bolt-on, with no significant changes required to engine mounts or other fundamental vehicle components. Once you have it installed, you will have to tune it. Rising rate fuel pressure regulators seem to work only to about 5-7 psi, and even at that level major power gains can be had by substituting a stand-alone engine management system, thanks to improved fuel delivery and timing.

The Digifant system, being derived from the L-Jetronic flapper-box, doesn't tolerate typical naturally aspirated modifications, such as cams, that significantly change airflow/rpm characteristics. However, properly tuned flapper-box systems work well with forced induction at airflow rates up until the flapper is maxed out. Tuning it properly requires access to the software. Digifant software is easy to modify, relative to the latest drive-by-wire systems, but the equipment and expertise required are not inexpensive to acquire. Your best bet, if smog laws in effect in your area permit it, may be to upgrade to a stand-alone engine management system, such as the Electromotive TEC-II, which is used in some of the most successful one-off turbo systems we have seen lately.

Overall, it sounds like you hope you will be able to accomplish something for (nearly) nothing with the turbo kit you have acquired. Experience shows that this is not possible. A good turbo upgrade can be the foundation of a superb car, but doing all the work to get it right is neither easy nor inexpensive. The same is true of naturally aspirated changes. As we pointed out earlier, your Digifant will probably work poorly with a hot cam. Adjustable timing gears, we are told by those who sell them, are frequently used to restore low-end torque lost when a "hot" cam was installed and made the car slower.

The best cams for cars like yours are relatively mild. They add power all around and are typically unresponsive to changes in timing. Larger injectors will only make the ECU's feedback routines work harder to maintain the correct air/fuel ratio. They are generally required only when significant increases in airflow have been achieved--as with forced induction, a displacement increase or radical internal modifications--and must be combined with suitable software reprogramming.

Given the modifications you already have in place, the best results at moderate costs are likely to be with a mild cam, an upgraded chip (be sure the tuner you buy it from understands what other modifications you have, or intend to do) and ensuring that the basic systems are all in top condition. Spark plugs and wires and the distributor cap and rotor should all be fresh, and it may be a good idea to have your fuel injectors cleaned and balanced, given the mileage on your car.


Sport Spring Runaround
I just got back from a VW dealership where I asked about the VW/Eibach springs for my GTI 1.8T. The parts manager said he wouldn't sell them to me because the setup is not compatible with the 1.8t engines.

"What? Why? What's the problem?" I asked. The parts manager said he had even called Germany regarding the 1.8t setup and was told no. He stated it would compromise the ride. I asked how and he replied it would make the ride softer. The final reasoning for refusal was due to the fact that the Golf GTIs already have a "sport tuned" suspension and installing the other springs will ruin it.

Sounded like so much "BS" to me, so I visited another local dealership to see what they might have to say about VW sport springs. This time, however, I asked to see the dealership's parts catalog. The guy behind the counter let me see the Golf page where the VW sport springs are listed. The funny thing is that while 2.0 and 1.9t diesels were listed for these springs, the 1.8t was nowhere to be found. We then checked the New Beetle section--same situation, 2.0 and 1.9t engines listed for the springs, but no 1.8t.

Now, awhile back I was following brief articles in european car on the long-term New Beetle 1.8t. VW sport springs had been installed with no problems. The last report was at 27,000 miles with no mention of suspension damage in conjunction with these springs. It may seem that I'm going half-assed on my suspension, but my reasoning for choosing these springs is basically to get rid of my hideous wheel gap without worrying about stock struts. Hopefully these springs will fullfill my sporting needs and improve handling a bit.
Richard, Black GTI 1.8T
via the Internet

If you read the March 2000 "Suspension Series, Part 4" article carefully, you will see that we found another setup far superior to the one you are considering. The VW dealer springs are essentially Eibach's Euro-spec Pro-Kit. Based on our experience with the New Beetle, we can't recommend fitting them without also fitting uprated dampers. We found that Eibach's New Beetle, fitted with Eibach's U.S.-spec Pro-Kit and Pro-Damper combination, was much more satisfactory than our car, which was fitted with just the dealer springs. We didn't experience any actual suspension damage using just the dealer accessory springs, but ride and handling could definitely have better--as pointed out in the original article.

We would recommend uprated dampers before springs (if you can only afford one), but will never recommend performance springs without improved dampers. You might not hate your car with such a setup, but we've never driven one we really liked. We hope this helps.


A Better Answer
Regarding your response to the letter "ISO Boost" in the November 2000 issue of european car, I was very disappointed that you could not help the person more with the question about TEC Automobildesign. I normally would not care enough about one of the letters to write, but this time I felt compelled.

I own a 1990 Corrado and wanted to respond simply because I know how hard it is to find many parts for the car. TEC's website is www.newdimensions.com/tec/ New Dimensions is the only supplier in America for TEC products. The Turmat supercharger inquired about in the original letter costs roughly $6,000, so it is a very pricey option. Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. Apart from this one instance, you have a great magazine.
Andrew Bengston
via the Internet

Thanks for your feedback. We definitely slipped in the answer to that letter. TEC Automobildesign is the only factory-authorized and supported rebuilder of the Corrado's G60 supercharger, as well as an extensive line of Volkswagen and Audi performance upgrades engineered to German standards. You can also call New Dimensions at (800) 637-2781.


Boundless Enthusiasm
My enthusiasm for Volkswagens knows no bounds. I plan to own a Jetta in the near future and I'm quite excited about it. Reading your magazine only makes me salivate more as I devour your articles every month. Sadly, I cannot look forward to owning the 204-bhp VR6 European Sportwagen nor a 4Motion, either. What terrible crime has the U.S. committed for us enthusiasts to be starved by our favorite manufacturers? Or are we paying for a bad reputation the general public has created for us? How much would it cost to buy a German Bora/Jetta with the bigger VR6 and send it to the States?

Would this be legal? I know a friend who bought his BMW 325is while stationed in Germany with the Air Force and sent it home relatively easily. I know this was partly because of his association with the Air Force, but would this work for a civilian?

I'm a beginning enthusiast as well and regret not taking the shop classes offered to me in high school. I'm basically a daily driver looking for a fast and attractive ride, no plans for racing clubs or even weekend swap meets. I'm struggling with the decision between Bilstein/Neuspeed and H&R coilovers. I've read about several sweet cars on the MK4 chassis that have used one or the other with outstanding results. Is it really more a matter of personal opinion? I can assume that either would be overkill for my intended use.

Also, I am wondering what the difference between a sway bar and an anti-roll bar is, or for that matter, a strut tie bar? Is upgrading any of these essential with the coilovers I intend to use? I apologize for being so long winded. I'm just excited all the time about cars, especially Volkswagens. I greatly enjoy your magazine. Keep up the good work--your enthusiasm is contagious.
Garth
Via the internet

There are many reasons for a manufacturer to bring a model or engine choice here or leave it at home. A common reason is cost. We have often wished for a 1.8T 225-bhp six-speed 4Motion Golf. It would be a fabulous car, but it's probably not going to happen. Why? Our guess is that VW is smart enough to figure out they would be lucky to sell 278 (or thereabouts) of them at the BMW-like price it would have to charge.

Most European manufacturers have European delivery programs, wherein a customer begins a driving vacation by picking up their car from the factory. Sometimes, the price is reduced enough to pay for a significant portion of the customer's trip across the ocean. To get the car through customs and into the U.S., however, it must be certified and legal for use in the U.S.--i.e., a U.S. model. Your friend may have been fortunate to have someone look the other way if his car was not U.S. legal, but it probably was not 100-percent official, and we doubt a civilian could duplicate the result.

We think you'll be very pleased with either H&R or Neuspeed coilovers. Please, though, if you buy coilovers, don't just screw the spring seats down as far as they will go. Your car will not be corner balanced (one of the main reasons to buy coilovers), and you will destroy the dampers by bottoming them out continually. The truth is this: You are absolutely correct that either setup is overkill for your uses. Our recommendation is you buy a standard sport lowering spring package and a set of high-quality dampers (sporting trim level) as recommended by whichever spring company you go with. That package will save you money, last essentially as long, and serve you well, deep into an autocross or driving school habit--should you be fortunate enough to develop one.

A swaybar is the same thing as an anti-roll bar. We suspect that with one of the previously mentioned coilover suspensions in place, larger anti-roll bars would become optional. Our engineering editor typically prefers them, however, and he recommends them with a basic sport spring/damper package. A strut tie bar connects the tops of the strut towers, adding to chassis rigidity. With MK1 VWs, such as the Rabbit, Scirocco and original GTI, that was essential.

Volkswagens have been made more robust with each generation, so the MK4s seem to demonstrate little real need of a strut tie bar. For more on how springs, dampers, and anti-roll bars effect handling, read ec's "Suspension Basics' series. For your questions, we recommend Part 3, in the January 2000 issue.


Digifant Dismay
I have a 1992 Jetta GL, with, much to my dismay, Digifant Injection. I like the car quite a bit and until someone gives me a 1.8T, I'll be driving this one--still it could use a little more power. Recently I saw a letter titled "Digin' Around" requesting info on how to upgrade the performance of such a car. Based on your reply (ec "Tech Letters," June 2000) I have a number of questions:

1) You state the Digifant system does not like aggressive cams. Would the addition of a reprogrammed chip alleviate this problem? Or would I be better off getting a Cam Adjustment Pulley (Techtonics or Neuspeed, any preference?) and either leaving the stock cam or upgrading and using the adjustment to dial in my power?

2) Your final total horsepower rating is something like 120, does that include the addition of the chip upgrade and cam or just the exhaust work and hotter spark plugs?

3) What about changing the Digifant out for another system? Is that a possibility? Which might you recommend?

4) Finally, what about the stock braking system? I've added drilled and slotted 9.4s with Mintex pads up front, but still have the drums in the back. Will this system cope with the increased power? If not, what are my upgrade choices? Thank you in advance for any suggestions or help you can provide.
Greg Rogers
Wilmington, Delaware

For starters, Greg, if you enjoy the car, enjoy it. Don't worry about what we, or anybody else says. Digifant ain't so bad, and you really lose only a handful of horsepower, if that, to any other systems. Read what we have to say about your questions, and you'll understand what we mean. Now, for those questions:

1. Indeed, Digifant equipped engines do not like aggressive cams. Very true. In fact, neither do CIS injected engines nor Motronic injected engines. Here's why: all three injection systems measure the airflow into the engine in order to decide how much fuel to inject. If the air flows smoothly, it's measured correctly, and the engine works well.

If an aggressive cam is fitted, there can be pulses in the intake tract that flow backwards from the inlet valve. These same pulses give a hot cam that cool, rough idle. The problem is that the pulses confuse all three injection systems' air metering, and typically make the car lose substantial amounts of bottom end power. Honestly, no amount of top end power makes up for a substantial loss at the bottom end, especially on the street. As you've probably figured out by now, a chip can't change the facts we've stated above.

What about an adjustable cam advance? It is conceivable that an adjustable cam advance pulley like the Techtonics or Neuspeed unit could help the bottom end, but it would be at the expense of the top end. That is the way adjustable cam timing works: it "rocks" the power curve, stealing from one end to build on the other. The end result is typically no real gain.

When is an adjustable cam advance pulley a good idea? When a cam is designed or ground incorrectly, or the engine has been modified, and the timing marks won't line up. Since quality cams like the Neuspeed, Techtonics and Schrick cams are designed and ground correctly, it is unlikely that you'll find any serious gains with a cam advance wheel.

You can expect about 120 bhp on a 1.8 Digifant car with a chip, exhaust, cam and colder (not hotter) spark plugs. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that gain is one you will notice and enjoy. We'd probably go for the exhaust, then the cam, then the spark plugs, and finally the chip if we were tuning one.

Should you change out the Digifant for an earlier or later injection system? You're talking about a big job here, Greg, and not something to be taken on lightly. First, there's the legal ramifications--simply put, it's not legal to change the fuel injection system. Second, it's an enormous job that takes someone with expertise and patience - or both. Finally, it's unlikely that another system will add much more power, or even allow you to add much more power.

It's a good idea to think about upgrading brakes--you've already done the first step. The next step we'd take is to go to either 10.2 or 11-in. Either is a straightforward swap, and a number of tuners carry the parts to fit the bigger factory brakes on your car. It's the most cost effective way to go. Do you need rear discs? Not really. The front brakes do 80 or 90 percent of the work, so going to the trouble to swap out and put in rear discs probably won't give a very big gain.

Digifant isn't all that bad, as you've already figured out by enjoying your car, and a 20 percent power gain is one you can feel and will enjoy. Happy Digin'.


VR6 versus 1.8T
First, I'd like to compliment your magazine on its objective, as well as passionate, dealings with what are no doubt the best cars in the world. As a four time Volkswagen owner, I've obviously grown to love VWs of all kinds. From that first test drive back in 1988--which led me to give up my Ford Escort, as well as swear off any Japanese car--I've never looked back. I've watched (and cheered) as Volkswagen woke up and began swinging back at the competition from the other side of the Eurasian continent, starting with the awesome VR6 back in 1992. These last 2 years have made the 10 year wait well worth it.

After seeing and driving every derivative of MK4 available (VR6, 1.8T, 2.0L and 1.9 TDI), I've narrowed down my choices for the successor to my '93 Passat: It's between the 1.8T and the TDI in Golf GLS form. As powerful as these motors are for the price (that's important right now), they are godsends!

However, if I could afford it, the VR6 would be my ultimate choice. I've read your articles comparing the 1.8t and the VR6 and agree with most of what is said. However, as fantastic as the 1.8t is, not to mention tuner friendly, the saying "There's no replacement for displacement" is a rule that cannot be overlooked.

To be fair, one must remember a few important differences between the 1.8t and the VR6: The 1.8t has five valves per cylinder, while the VR6 has only two. Secondly, the 1.8t has that "t" factor, forced induction, artificially pumping up its ability to "flow" air. You mentioned 150 bhp from the 1.8t versus 174 bhp from the VR6; remember the 150 bhp for the 1.8t is usually measured at the wheels, while the VR6 is at the crank. (A work of semantics by VW, of course). This means the engines are actually pretty even when measured at similar points.

Since that turbo is key to the 1.8t's stellar performance, limiting the VR6's ability to come up with similar cost effective gains by simple naturally aspirated bolt-ons (cams, chips, exhaust, intake, etc.) is not really fair. Forced induction must be the first stop in potential power per dollar comparisons. The $4,000 needed for a 1.8t KO4 upgrade, netting 230- to 240 bhp, can be equaled by an AMS or EIP supercharger system (or even a Stage 1 turbocharger) for a VR6--with similar results. With 8 to 9 lb of boost, a supercharged VR6 would achieve 270 to 300 bhp with some serious bottom end torque.

If you boost the 1.8t to 12.5 psi for 240 bhp, you can also do it to the VR6. You'll need an intercooler to do it, which adds another $2,000 to the VR6 upgrade tab. However, you'll now find yourself at 350 to 370 bhp with V12 territory torque at around 420 lb-ft.

What's the point in all this? I'm just making sure that in the celebration of the birth of the 1.8t (and I'm happy, too!), we don't suddenly leave the VR6 behind like it was yesterday's news. I've lived with a VR6 for nearly 200,000 miles and quite enjoy not worrying about changing timing belts every 60,000 miles.

One last point: It's interesting to note VW has chosen the VR6 platform as the basis for most of its future engine configurations--VR5, VR8, VR10--as well as a host of new "W" engines. The 1.8t will remain a link back to the glory days of the inline motors, and there's no doubt it is the crowning achievement of those motors.
Jon Council
via the Internet

We love your enthusiasm, but find your numbers to be a wide slice of pie in the sky.

First off, both engines are rated by the factory at the flywheel. Most tuners do say that the 150 bhp 1.8t tends to be more powerful than its official rating, though, which we consider to be in its favor. We called Neuspeed and were told that the MSRP on their K04 upgrade kit for A4s and Passats is either $1880 or $1850, depending on throttle type. Kits for the transverse engines should be priced similarly when they arrive. AMS' VR6 supercharger is no longer listed on their website, while EIP's site lists two VR6 turbo kits. Stage I retails at $5495 and is rated at 330 hp, while Stage II runs $5995, and is rated at approximately 370 hp.

The Z-Engineering VR6 supercharger we tested in November retails for roughly $3900, runs 6 psi of boost, and produces 213 bhp and 199 lb-ft at the wheels. The AMS 1.8t chip we tested in the September issue builds 1 bar (14.7 psi) of boost and delivered 154 bhp to the wheels. Now for the waving of hands: Optimistically assuming some linearities that don't really apply between displacement, airflow, and engine output, we can go by pressure ratios and see 322 bhp from a VR6 at 12.5 psi. More realistic, but still optimistic, is to assume equal performance under boost and find a 2.8L at 15 psi putting 240 bhp to the wheels. Using a typical 15 percent rule, that's only 275 bhp at the flywheel. I would expect to see less in the real world, and we hear reports of many turbocharged VR6s dying early and dramatic deaths. Also, none of this has mentioned the handling advantage of the 1.8t that cannot be changed by adding power. We like VR6s, too (Les Bidrawn still likes them better than the 1.8t), but stand by the comparison. There is room in the world for fans of both engines, and we hope to see them both for a long time to come.


Too Much of a Good Thing
In the July 2000, "Tech Letters," Walter States wrote about poor steering feel in his '98 GTI VR6. If he has set his alignment and tire pressure as you advised and is still not satisfied, he may want to consider adjusting the steering rack free-play.

I bought my '98 Jetta GLX new and, after less than 10,000 miles, the steering began to feel numb on center, especially at higher speeds although it felt fine once I took a set in a corner. It also began to feel loose over bumps.

Essentially, it felt as if my tie-rod ends were loose or worn. Neither the dealer nor I could find anything wrong with the steering or suspension. The dealer even replaced the struts and strut bearings to no avail. However, it refused to consider the possibility that something was wrong with my rack. The car was almost out of warranty; so I decided to live with the problem and document the incident should I experience a steering rack failure in the near future.

About a year later, I purchased a Bentley manual for the car to help with an unrelated problem. While thumbing through the manual, I noticed that there was a procedure for adjusting the steering rack free-play. The manual states something to the effect that if the steering has a loose feel to it and no other problems are found, there may be too much free-play in the rack.

It appears to be a relatively simple procedure as nothing has to be removed from the car to perform it. A service tool is required to make the adjustment. The tool needed is VW524, which also happens to be the tool used to remove the strut bearing retaining nut on A2 cars. This is about a $25 tool. The manual cautions that adjustments should be made in very small increments. If too much free-play is dialed out, it will cause the rack to bind. I haven't yet had a chance to try the adjustment, but I think it may be just the ticket to restore proper steering feel. When I do try it, I am also going to mark the original position of the adjusting nut just in case.
Michael Keith
Houston, Texas
via the Internet


Getting Real about Downshifting
Oh wise Euro-gurus, the manual transmission in my '85 GTI has been getting steadily stiffer since about 40K miles. At 150K miles, downshifts into first or second are virtually impossible without double-clutching. I seem to recall reading somewhere that older Volkswagen transmissions were prone to premature wear. Is it worth trying to fix, or should I try to find a salvaged unit? If I go the junkyard route, what should I look for?
Peter Frederic
via the Internet

Flattery will get you everywhere, but so will reason and logic. Premature wear? At 150,000 miles? Let's get real. Within the range of a lot of variables--more on that later--we'd say you were probably driving a trans that is simply worn out. We've gotten that much and more out of VW trans without a problem, but there's a good chance that gearbox is just worn out.

Before digging deeper, you need to make sure your clutch is working right and is properly adjusted, but at 150,000 miles it’s probably too late for that; damage could already be done.

It's not a design flaw we're talking about, either. A number of factors affect synchro life: The gear oil you use, the style of driving, how much you use--or don't use--the clutch and how much you downshift. One bad downshift can accelerate premature synchro wear in a hurry.

The fix you seek is probably a rebuilt trans. (New clutch, kit and seals as well, as long as you're removing the gearbox, do it all.) You don't know the history of a junkyard box and it's a lot of work to find out someone learned how to shift on the trans you just bought. We would call the folks at Kraftswerk Transmissions, in Stanton, Calif. They know more about VW trannies than anyone around, and have a great rebuild program which incorporates all the factory upgrades and beyond. You can talk to them about special performance gearing at the same time. Kraftswerk can be reached at (714) 901-5055; on the web at www.kraftswerk.com.


TDI Power Options
I just bought a 1996 Passat TDI. I love the car with its great torque and incredible fuel mileage; I regularly see 50 mpg! The handling is okay, but the brakes don't seem quite up to it. I want to get more power, upgrade the brakes and tighten up the suspension. I'll get better wheels and tires, too, but I'm okay with what's on there for now. Where should I begin?
Clark Walding
Cerrillos, New Mexico

Well Clark, it just so happens that Technology Editor James Sly has a TDI, too; a 1996 Passat in fact. Let's start with the engine. There's essentially two different solutions for more TDI power in the software department: A chip, which requires modifying your car's brain; or an add-on black box. Either will bump your TDI's 90 bhp to the 110 to 112 range, with slightly more torque than a VR6; the difference is amazing. Sly's TDI chip was socketed, not soldered, so changing it was a fairly simple matter.

Even simpler is the "black box" approach. Think of it as non-intrusive surgery. Sly installed the Tuning Box from HS Motorsports (Ontario, Canada, (519) 570-3648; www.hsmotorsports.com). The power gains seem to be every bit as much as the gains from a chip, but the installation is even easier; you tee into a boost line, and plug it between two stock wiring connectors. Painless, and powerful; and highly recommended. The Tuning Box requires no adjustments, either; plug and go.

Turbos love a low-restriction exhaust. Sly used Techtonics Tunings 2.5-in. exhaust for the Passat TDI as well. Available in stainless or aluminized steel, this free-flowing, mandrel bent cat-back system was good for another 10 bhp; and the turbo lights up even sooner, for better bottom end.

What about brakes? You're exactly right when you say that they deserve a little more; the TDI's stock 10.2-in. brakes leave a little to be desired. Upgrading to better pads, like Ferodos, can help, but the real solution is to upgrade to bigger brakes: 11-in. Corrado G60 rotors and calipers (they share the four lug bolt pattern) are direct bolt-ons. Velocity Sport Tuning, (310) 952-0003, has a kit for the Passat with O.E. rotors, great Ferodo pads and brand new calipers for about $410. For an extra $55, you can upgrade to Velocity's cool-looking gas slotted rotors. Either way, you end up with brakes that match up pretty well to the TDI's newfound performance.

What about suspension? If you want the best thing going, we'd go for the H&R coilovers; the results are outstanding. Coilovers are, however, expensive. If they cost more than your budget allows, our next choice would be Bilsteins with H&R Sport springs. The stock front anti-roll bar has a pretty good diameter on the Passat, so you probably won't even want to upgrade the anti-roll bars.

We think that with a few chances like this, you'll like that TDI even more. If you find that you like the added power and want to go off the deep end, you can do what James did and add Bully Dog's propane injection system. Delaware Diesel Performance (e-mail: DIESELPERFORM@aol.com) is a source of this excellent product that does for Diesels what nitrous does for gasoline-engined cars.


Wiring Woes
I bought an abandoned '84 Rabbit project car. There is no existing dash and far worse than that, the wires are in a big mess. There are no harnesses on the wires and I can't figure out what is what; there is a maze of wires coming out the firewall. I've tried using "Chilton's" and "All Data" charts, but I can't figure it out. Can I get a color-coded wiring diagram somewhere? Are there shops that can do this?
Jakob M Vigneri via the Internet

Ahh, Jakob! Hasn't anyone ever told you buying another man's project car is buying another man's trouble? Just kidding, buying an abandoned project car can be a very, cost-effective way to build your own project car. Our manual of choice for wiring, and virtually everything else VW (or BMW, for that matter) is the "Bentley Manual" from Robert Bentley Publishers.

Like the other manuals you mention, the Bentley Manual is also in black and white these days, meaning you'll have to use both sides of your brain to figure out the wire color coding. The colors are marked beside each wire. "R" could mean red, for example, and "RW" could mean red with a white stripe. "B" is for brown, and so on. Each Bentley manual takes a couple of pages and explains not only the labels, but how the wiring diagram is laid out; it's a section that's well worth reading.

Are there shops that handle this sort of thing? Indeed there are. Experts such as Ron Wood at VW Specialties in Huntington Beach, Calif., (714) 848-3766, or Shawn van Neer, at Momentum Motorsport, Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, (604) 552-9707, could probably solve your problem blindfolded. Unfortunately, sorting out wiring problems takes a lot of time and time, as they say, is money; for you and for the shops. Good luck with your project car.


Taller in First
I own a 1983 Volkswagen Scirocco with a 1.8-liter 8-valve engine. My question concerns the transmission. In a VW tuning catalog, I saw a fifth-gear conversion kit for '83 and newer five-speed transmissions. The gear has a ratio of 0.75:1 and is intended as an overdrive on close-ratio transmissions. I'd like a taller fifth gear (or even a six-speed) on my Scirocco. The problem is that I don't know the current ratio of my fifth gear or my final drive. Would this kit even help me in lowering rpm or would it make things worse? Right now in fifth gear at 60 mph the engine is cranking at 2950. What would be best: a taller fifth gear, a six-speed, or a different ring and pinion set?
Paul Story
Metaline Falls, Washington

As far as making a conversion, changing the fifth-gear ratio can be done with the tranny in the car, simply by removing the end cover, and will be by far the least expensive route. Both the six-speed conversion and changing the ring and pinion require removal and extensive disassembly of the transmission, with specialized and expensive tools. If you anticipate adding a limited slip differential, that is a good time to change the ring and pinion. Whether the 0.75:1 conversion will help you depends on which transmission your car actually has--there are several possibilities, plus a chance that it was changed before you owned the car. Your rpm at speed information also depends on tire size, so the only way to know is to look at the transmission code stamped on the bottom of the housing.

Consider also your reasons for wanting a taller fifth gear. With cheap gas prices (after spending a week in England early this year, $2 a gallon looked great), significant hardware changes are difficult to justify on purely financial grounds unless you commute a lot of highway miles. Noise at cruise should be reduced, but so will responsiveness.

If you are concerned about long-term durability, don't be. VWs were engineered to last on the autobahn, at much higher speeds than the WSHP will let you drive. You didn't say which catalog you were looking at, but we're guessing it was these folks: Autotech Sport Tuning; (949) 240-4000; (800) 553-1055; www.autotech.com. If you call Autotech, it will help you sort out what transmission is in your car and answer any questions you may have. Another source is Kraftswerk Transmissions, a gearbox specialist that can provide anything from a stock rebuild to a full-house six-speed. Kraftswerk Transmissions; (714) 901-5055.


Corrado or 944?
I am planning on purchasing either a 1990-91 Volkswagen Corrado or a 1986-88 Porsche 944 in the near future. Which car do you think would be the better buy? I've heard some horror stories about the G60 supercharger (the VR6 is unfortunately out of my price bracket), but the VW has the advantage of being a newer design than the Porsche. Other than the obvious things that pertain to all used vehicles, is there anything I should look out for in either vehicle? If the G60 supercharger were to grenade, would it be possible to drop a 16V motor into the car? I know that was an engine option in Europe. Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.
Don Ulmer
via the internet

These are both said to be excellent cars by those who favor them, and for the record, they are both developments of designs that hit the market in 1975. More important than age are design fundamentals, which come down to a question of rwd vs. fwd performance. In this respect, I prefer the Porsche, simply because I am a rwd kind of guy. However, I must confess that I have considered owning a Corrado, but not a 944. The reasons for this are many, but the largest is expectation of maintenance costs. Parts cost, both new and used, should be less horrific for the VW, as is the basic maintenance.

There are two camps on cost of ownership. It has been said that the 944 was built for no more important reason than to keep Porsche specialists in business; but, on the other hand, fans of the model say it is much less expensive to maintain properly than a 911. Straight-line performance will depend on which 944 you choose. Assuming a clean Turbo is not in your budget, a base model will be slower than the Corrado, while a 16-valve S will have a chance. However, any major VW tuner can set you up with an affordable package of bolt-ons that should make the Corrado a 944 Turbo-eater. Engine mods for the 944 are essentially limited to intake, exhaust, and a performance chip. Car and Driver awarded the 944 Best Steering in 1985, and its handling is considered excellent by all camps. The greatest challenge to the 944 is actually a Japanese car (don't make me say which one, you already know) that set the Porsche squarely in its sights and, in many opinions, hit the mark. I believe it can be made faster and handle better for much less money than the Porsche. For more information on the 944, log on to www.connactivity.com/~kgross/944faq.html.

As far as engine swaps in the Corrado, almost anything is possible, but I would not recommend the 16V swap. The Corrado is a fairly heavy car, and the torque of the G60 is what makes it work. The European 16V engine was somewhat more powerful than the U.S. version, but the option is still better suited to autobahn cruising than typical stop-and-go stateside conditions. A better solution is to ensure the reliability of the G-lader. Though the basic failure mode (breaking drive belts) is sudden and results in total destruction of the supercharger, if that has not occurred, the G60 can almost always be rebuilt and significantly fortified against future problems at the same time. Bahn Brenner Motorsport and New Dimensions are both G60 specialists. Bahn Brenner Motorsport; (253) 639-4435; www.bahnbrenner.com; New Dimensions, (408) 980-1691; www.newdimensions.com.


ISO Boost
I was reading an article in VW Power magazine in the fall of 1997. It was about some G60s from TEC Automobildesign GmbH. The article stated there was a supercharger that TEC was using called a Turmat; it's half turbo and part supercharger. Was that the same thing made by the Rotrex Company? They have a similar setup. Can you please give me the website for TEC.
JHBoost
via Internet

Going back, we find a couple interesting uses of the Cetoni Turmat supercharger--the G60s you mention, a European M3 and, if my memory serves me, a TechArt Porsche.

For those not familiar with the Turmat, it was originally developed by ZF. The design was marketed by Cetoni, which was later sold to a company called Cartronic. The last known address was Ophauserstrasse 32m, Hagenm, Germany. There is another company in Germany doing business using that name that specializes in high-end Porsches, but there is no mention of the Turmat.

To solve your problem, look at some of the technology and consider locally produced superchargers. The Turmat is the impeller side of a turbocharger that is over-driven by means of a cogged belt and internal planetary gears. Because it is over-driven by 15 times, the Turmat consumes 45 horsepower just to drive it.

Powerdyne makes superchargers of a similar type, although they do not spin as fast as the Turmat. They are also easy to find. Good luck on your supercharger quest. Powerdyne; (661) 723-2800 ; www.powerdyne.com.

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