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  Tow a Montauk. . . with a VW!!??

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Author Topic:   Tow a Montauk. . . with a VW!!??
JBCornwell posted 03-21-2002 11:58 AM ET (US)   Profile for JBCornwell   Send Email to JBCornwell  
Back in the early 70s, while raising four children and usually hosting one to three guest-surrogate children on vacations and fishing trips I had a space problem when towing my Sakonnet (Sunshine) to faraway, exotic places.

I bought a VW 7 passenger van (65hp). I towed Sunshine one time, about 50 miles round trip. Spent a lot of time in second gear.

To make a long story shorter I installed a 110hp Corvair engine and transmission.
The van would then cruise at 70, climb hills in 4th gear and carry five younguns, me and the spouse. . . with Sunshine tagging along.

Years later I did the same thing to a VW Camper, with the same result, except that it was just me and a fishing buddy. We saved a bazillion on motels and restaurants.

I have bought this Vanagon camper and want to do essentially the same thing with a Subaru 165hp 4-cam boxer engine. . . MUCH stronger than the Corvair, whos 110 hp were gross, with net hp about 95.

I calculate the lb/hp for such a conversion as the same as my ML, 23lb/hp, with the VW getting an advantage from lower final drive of 4.09 vs. 3.25 for the ML.

With heavy duty cooling, oil and transmission coolers, larger brakes and air boosted suspension it should far exceed the performance of the Corvair conversions, even with full power goodies and AC added.

If I was willing to spend more bux, there is an outfit in Seattle that puts 230hp Subaru 6s in Vanagons. 0-60 in 7.3 seconds and WOT of 114. That is danged (too) fast in that box.

This is what VW should have done instead of the Eurovan, give the Vanagon some power.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

daverdla posted 03-21-2002 12:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
The new eurovan has 210HP. . Tows over 4000lbs (brakes on trailer). They look ungainly but actually ride well. I drove one of the lower HP models a couple of years ago. Rode well but no power.

Good luck on the conversion. How about a turbocharged corvair engine? Almost bought one of those...


JFM posted 03-21-2002 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
JB, what about an Astro van. I use one with a 4.3 V6, and auto OD. It's set up for towing. It has front and rear air and heat. My last trip to Fla. I logged 22mpg with a Montauk in tow. Regards. Jay P.S. There very cheap used!
JBCornwell posted 03-21-2002 01:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
I appreciate the suggestions of the Eurovan, Astrovan, etc.

No other van is offered, by anyone, that offers the quality and efficient use of space of the Westfalia conversions of the rear-engine VWs. If it isn't a camper, why not just use my ML?

Thanks for your suggestions.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

Bigshot posted 03-21-2002 01:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Please JB, stop comparing that Hippiething to a ML. You might make me trade mine in on the way home today on a Ford or something.
JBCornwell posted 03-21-2002 04:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
"Hippiething", Bigshot?? Why, Nick! You are older than I tought.

I promise not to paint flowers and psychedelic symbols all over it, but, maybe a couple of those BIG side decals in red.:D

I wonder if local body shops can paint it desert tan for me. Hmmm.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

crosley95 posted 03-21-2002 05:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for crosley95  Send Email to crosley95     
i had a vanagon once. great vehicle!


caddis posted 03-21-2002 11:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for caddis  Send Email to caddis     
Okay, I'm lost here. ML???
JBCornwell posted 03-21-2002 11:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Hi, Caddis.

Mercedes "M" Class SUV.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

caddis posted 03-22-2002 12:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for caddis  Send Email to caddis     
Thanks, JB. Just couldn't figure that one out. <:p
JFM posted 03-22-2002 09:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
JB, what is the conversion? Is it a VW conversion or did another company do it. It's not the old VW f%*k truck is it? You have sparked my interest, since my son and I like to fish remote areas. We will take the Astro with no seats a tent and a boat. It would be nice to do away with the tent thing. Also, I'm not a big fan of motorhomes.Regards, Jay
zpeed7 posted 03-22-2002 11:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for zpeed7  Send Email to zpeed7     
You could always drop in a Porsche flat 6.... ;)
where2 posted 03-22-2002 12:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Being a VW geek ('70 Beetle, '80 Scirocco_S & 90 Corrado_G60), I can understand the fascination with the ease at which you can interchange various parts onto a VW to get whatever you want out of one. I have heard stories of a local shop that tweaks Porsche's and VW's having dropped a 3.2L Carrera (the flat 6 Zpeed7 referred to)engine into a VW van, using the Porsche 5 Speed. Personally, with that much HP, I'd want the Synchro setup so I could get all 4 wheels pulling. How about a VR6 conversion (172hp) for the back of the Vanagon, or a VW_G60 conversion (158hp)? If it was a watercooled Vanagon, then you're set with the radiator plumbing.

I think before I bought a Ford Aerostar, I'd put a Ford Thunderbird_SC v6 engine in the back of a Vanagon. Then the only questions are where to put the intercooler, and the how much boost to run...

JBCornwell posted 03-22-2002 02:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
The engine compartment of the Vanagon Camper doesn't allow anything but a water cooled or Corvair boxer engine.

The Porsche 3.0 or bigger is attractive, but the gearing of the Porsche transmission is too low (numerically) for towing.

The advantages of the Subys are that they are liquid cooled and computer controlled, as well as fitting better (the fan housing on the Porsches is too high to clear the bed).

Conversion parts are offered by Kennedy Engineered Products ( and Small Car Performance (
If you are willing to spend serious bux, Small Car does in-house conversions to either the 2.5liter boxer 4 (165hp) or to the fire breathing 3.3 liter boxer 6 (230hp). They are in the Seattle area.

Good luck, and thanks for the encouragement.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

andygere posted 03-22-2002 03:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I've always thought the Westy's were among the most veratile little vehicles out there (especially the Syncros), but towing capacity was a major drawback. It sounds like the Suby conversion changes that. You may also want to check out the following sites dedicated to these vehicles: My wife thinks they are ugly, but I love their utilitarian simplicity.
tobes posted 03-24-2002 07:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for tobes  Send Email to tobes     
I've been out of town and just found this one.

Westy and whaler fans all in one, yahoo. I have two projects that I'm working on and sorry to say one might have to go.

1st the keeper, a 84 22' Guardian DRMS job that I'm restoring to an Outrage with Gil bracket and full transom. I've already stripped the entire hull to remove the epoxy paint that the joker before me so graciously applied after a poor prep job. Large areas that weren't even sanded, the stuff came off in strips.*#@%&* !!

I've reworked all the panels, hatches and rised the console 4", put in a new tank from FL marine and got my hands on a Birdsall standard leaning post. Yeah you could say that I'm in for the long haul. Oh well live and learn.

2nd Project that has to go is my 87 Westy with 140k and blown engine. I bought it in 93 with 70k on it. In the next 3 yrs. I put another 60+k on her. A total of 4 cross country trips almost every state in the union, I saved a few for when I retire.
So in this time I got to fully appreciate those crafty germans. I loved this van, the only problem with it is what JB is looking at now and I can't afford two money pits. Its sad to say that the "hippiething" might have to go.

BS, you want it? The only hangup is I put my rifle rack right next to my Jerry poster hope you don't mind. :)

JB If you got the bucks go for the conversion. Thease are really one of kind rigs. I think the only modifications that you need for the subrau powerplant is engine cover and new bed/seat hinge layout, that raises it a few inches. You own one so you know the deal. I don't have to sell you on it. Keep us posted

Sorry about the ramblings.

Tom W Clark posted 03-25-2002 01:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
That Small Car Performance project Vanagon looks very interesting. They're even in my neighborhood. So who do you take it to if you're not a mechanic, a VW shop or a Subaru shop?

Years ago when I drove a 911S I took it to Seattle's foremost Porsche mechanic, Denny Akers. He had (may still have) a Vanagon that he put a 3.3 liter Porsche 930 Turbo engine in.

It was just a parts van for running around town it and it looked fairly stock apart from the 16 Porsche Fuchs alloys it rolled on. It was said to be fairly fast but the draw back was its thirst for fuel. They ended up having to install a couple of auxiliary saddle tanks in it to make it practical for getting anywhere!

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