Page updated on 06-19-2018

subaru engine into a VW bug

01-07-2007, 08:14 PM
My wife keeps asking me to get her a VW bug,preferably a convertible,and
just for spite Im considering getting her one.
Ive worked with them in the past and have never been impressed.
I know there's an adaptor available to drop in a subaru engine,which sounds
like a reasonable project.
My questions are:has any one had personal experience with this conversion?
Also has anyone ever looked at the possibility of flipping the ring gear carrier
in a subaru automatic transaxle to correct the rotation direction?
(my wife cant drive a standard worth a darn)
It also seems a shame to adapt a smooth running engine to a clunky VW
transaxle with no overdrive.

01-10-2007, 08:33 AM
I've wanting to do a project like this myself for a while now. I have the same questions as you do, and I have not found a lot of information on this. I think it would make a really sweet car. A whole lot more power with stock reliability. I just wonder how much crap besides the radiator you would have to make a home for?

01-14-2007, 06:03 PM
Well, there is a whole lot of things to get done when doing a swap like that. Cooling is a major deal, however, the engine management, upgrading the trans, braking, ect. not to mention the cost involved. That being said, the reliability and power you can achieve from an aircooled engine is still better bang for the buck. With a small investment of about 3k, you could build or buy an engine that is very reliable and with sufficient power. My engine which is a 1904cc puts out 85whp and 101fpt. I have a set of new heads coming that should bump up the power to nearly 115 - 120 at the wheels. Not bad for a car that only weighs in at around 1670lbs. I drive it 3 to 4 times a week to work which is around a 70 mile round trip (spring and summer as I live in Wisconsin). Routine maint. on the engine is all I really do. Now, mind you, this set up is not stock by any means. I have dual 44 webers, the new heads will be ported and polished. 1.25:1 ratio rockers, full flowed oil system, merged header, yadda, yadda. The point being, I will spend far less on this type of setup than converting to a Subaru engine. You could even add a turbo setup to the acvw engine and still have it cost way less than a conversion. However, if you are still interested in this setup, check this site out TSR Dragracers (

05-19-2007, 11:56 PM
I've done the EJ20 swap a while back. Not worth it. It was mounted to a built IRS tranny, and it broke. 3 times to be exact. It doesn't entirely "fit" unless you get really creative and fab the hell out of the rear to slide the tranny forward etc, etc. Cooling wasn't much of an issue, except for all the cutting, running all the copper, and the cost of totaling up all the little things you need to do it.

As for flipping the ring in the scooby trans. It's not cost effective with the amount spent (even if you do it yourself) to fab everything up to mount it, and modify the tranny.

If you like scooby engines (and that unmistakable exhaust note) and she wants an open air car, just buy a used wrx. One with a sunroof.

Not to be an ass or anything, but you don't seem to know much of VWs. The transaxles are not clunky, and there is an overdrive . . . 4th gear. Doing 45mph in 3rd isn't entirely out of the question.

For the price of a scooby engine and trans, all the materials to install it, and all the man-hours required to get it up to par, you could have a reliable, quite powerful, and superb performing engine and trans. Especially, with a better, higher R&P.

FWIW, my daily driver is a '73 standard with a 1915 turbo. It's very conservative, great on gas, and during tuning, made 212hp max. It's run every single day at 8lbs and blows the doors off of everything. On 8lbs, it's making about 185hp to the ground. I also did the deed of installing a porsche 901 trans (5-speed). It's not very good for drag launches, but the gearing is spot on, and the car does well over 100 without even trying. All that was cheaper than all the crap I did to install an ej20, and broke stuff all the time.

Here's some links so you can check out others work and opinions on the swap. These were my main sources of info when I did my swap.

Road racer with STI engine ->

Near complete walk through of doing the conversion ->

Forums dedicated to vw engine swaps ->

Scooby into a notchback ->

I totally agree with 1904Bug. If you go with a bug, keep it aircooled. Nothing else on the planet like a hi-po bug and no radiator.

Hope this helps some. It got me going in the right direction.

10-09-2007, 10:23 PM
to 89audiQT:
Sorry I havent checked my own post latley.I ended buying a 2000 bug with
an auto trans. which was probably the best move overall.
You are right in that I dont know alot about the particulars of the old bugs.
I am currious to know if 4th gear is actually overdrive? and what percent
ratio is it?
I still think they are clunky and noisy.

10-18-2007, 01:26 AM
I think you made the right move. is my site, and if you look thru it, you will see that the conversion is quite a bit of work. Im sure you wife is happy too lol.

Its definitely worth the work though, if you ever decide to do it in the future.

Add your comment to this topic!