Which Engine Conversion???

Bostig without a doubt, until I had doubts.


I like to feel in control.  I like to go into a job knowing pretty much how I'm going to make it out the other side, and because of that, for a very long time I thought I was going to do a Bostig conversion.


Why?  Simple.  I downloaded their manual, and watched their videos, and at the end of it realized, "I can do that."


Bostig do an AMAZING job at documenting their process and supporting their product like nobody else.  Their philosophy is also rock solid, in a nutshell, there's no point in having a Vanagon if it's not running and reliable. It's dumb to swap in an engine that's going to eat the transmission.  It's a greeeaaaaattt conversion but here's the thing..


After pulling my engine and transmission,  rebuilding the heads, swapping the tranny and all the other things I've done this year, I look at pretty much ANY conversion and realize, "I can do that too."


This is the point at which the Bostig proposition gets a bit shaky.  Don't get me wrong, the conversion is awesome.  Not only is the product support excellent,  the process straight forward and the kit absolutely complete,  but Zetec engines are cheap as chips, and if you blow one up (difficult) you can just swap in another.  The engine cost is TRIVIAL in the whole mix compared to the kit cost.. so you're investing in a conversion platform - probably the best one available - that you can get engine parts for globally.


There are two problems.

  1. Power - especially at altitude.  I think the power of the Zetec is adequate for a Vanagon for sure.. but with altitude power degradation I'm kinda thinking I want adequate plus a little bit more to spare.
  2. It's not a budget conversion.  It's cheaper than getting someone else to do a Subi swap, it's cheaper than some of the other options, but if the goal is to do a DIY conversion on the cheap, Bostig ain't it.

Now what?


Well the obvious choice is a Subaru, and I like obvious choices.  Yes, I've looked at all the other options, but

  1. I'm in Colorado.  Every other car is a Subaru.
  2. I'm in Colorado.  90 minutes from Van Cafe, Rocky Mountain Westy - and I like those guys.
  3. It's not as hard as I first thought.. it's just that there isn't one "source of truth",  one manual,  one step-by-step guide like you get with Bostig.  You just have to work it out.

That's the good stuff.  The not so good that I'm just going to suck up is a whole bunch of work has to go into the wiring loom - and that loom and the ECU is tied to the engine that you use.  That's a bit of a bummer.  If things go south at some point in the future I'm not sure what the best plan of attack is.  Try to get the same year, same model of engine and hope for the best, or do the whole donor car thing all over again. We will see.  But at least, whatever needs to be done, I'm pretty sure I can do that.


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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Tim Snell (Monday, 06 February 2023 07:11)

    So.. how did it go?

    I've got a tired 87 Syncro I'd like to convert.