Tasty Engine Swaps: TDi-powered MkI Golf

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of off-the-wall engine swaps.  The kind that would make purists cringe, but then be a little curious: “you did what?  So…. how well does it work?”  Like a Ford/Mazda 2.3 liter 16 valve 4-cylinder from a Ranger into a ’64-ish Ranchero.  But I digress.  Someone with more mechanical aptitude, money and garage space can try that one out.  I would even feature it here – despite the lack of a hatch.


What I have found is a swap that makes perfect sense.  No questioning, tilt-your-head-to-the-side-like-a-confused-puppy looks here.  Just a modern Volkswagen TDi engine dropped into the front bay of a Mark I Golf.  Pretty simple idea really, the TDi would make more than enough power to scoot the little rabbit around with pretty good authority and return phenomenal gas mileage doing it.  Or, you could get a little crazy and tune that baby to about 200 horses and 300 lb/feet of torque.  The builder of this ride, Greg Howell, chose the latter.


Other than the awesome power numbers, what stands out is how clean the entire car looks.  Of course, there’s the original Guigiaro design, which to my eye is one of the best small car designs of all time – but this swap does nothing to detract from that.  The paint, from color choice to execution is flawless.  The engine bay, neat and tidy.  And the interior is the same simple and honest space that came from the factory.


So take a trip over to Speedhunters and check out the full story and stats on this build, along with some great hi-res photos of the car.

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One response to “Tasty Engine Swaps: TDi-powered MkI Golf”

  1. Michael says :

    When the first generation Golf was still being produced Motor Trend took one of their diesels and put a turbo on it. Not only did it boost the power but the thing made a run from Los Angeles, CA to Boise, ID and still had a tiny bit of fuel in its 13 gallon tank. It worked out to 66 miles per gallon. Now, admittedly, they did do the ultra fuel conserving bit like coasting down hills. In real life, with real life driving the thing still turned around 48-50 mpg.

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