Vangon SVX Initial Drivetrain Installation (1 of 3)


Always remember that the intake manifold comes off the engine as one piece. You can separate the two as you take it apart but you will hate yourself and bend and break a lot of vacuum lines. I actually ended up breaking one of the EGR solenoids but that is okay because I am removing all that stuff anyways. Just remove the bolts that secure the lower of the two pieces and then you will only need to disconnect a small amount of vacuum lines.

For the initial assembly I actually made a set of intake manifold gaskets, as they are a dealership only part that had been on back order for while. I ordered a whole host of replacement seals and gaskets and these were the only ones that the dealership couldn’t obtain (at $50 each I might add) so I decided to just make a set. At the time of the writing, 8,200 miles in, it is holding great:

Sticking it all together:

Now that I had a good solid engine to start with it was time to figure out how to go about stuffing it into the Vanagon’s engine compartment. First order of business was to figure out how to adapt the Subaru engine to the factory VW trans-axle. I researched several options and soon came across an interesting solution, the smallcar bellhousing.

There was much debate about whether to use the bell-housing or go with an adapter plate kit. The bell-housing was more expensive but being able to use the Subaru flywheel and starter were important to me because I know these items will be readily and cheaply available for years to come. There were some other benefits that lead to ultimately to the purchase:

– Increases distance between the front of crankshaft pulley and the back of the engine compartment.

– Was said to reduce drive-train vibration compared to the adapter plate kits

– Will accept the bolt pattern for 06+ Subaru engines as well, for example the EZ36

– Cleaner installation look overall

So I placed my order with smallcar completely unsure of what to expect, this was my first major cash investment into this project at nice lump sum of $700, not including the $350 for the clutch. I considered that a huge investment at the time because the total cost of the project up until the point (so van and Subaru swap car) had only been about $100. About a week later this showed up:

Clutch slave and associated bell-housing hardware, note how the slave cylinder is the “ford” style:

I wasted no time getting started on affixing it to the transmission. The installation documentation on this was thorough and easily understood. Providing you only have a 2WD Vanagon the bell-housing requires no specialty tools for installation. This allowed me to get a better look inside my junkyard purchased transmission:

After cleaning everything very nicely it was time to install the main-shaft extension. This is a little bit of a reach with the diff in the way:

One installation note that I recommend that isn’t in the docs is that the o-ring for the clutch slave cylinder really needs to be greased up before insertion, remember to take extra special care to not tear the o-ring on the non contersync’d surface. (the hole doesn’t taper in) After pulling the threads torquing one of the clutch slave bolts to spec and re-tapping for the next size up bolt I finally had an assembled transmission:

The next step was to check initial fitment to the engine, the clutch kit hadn’t actually arrived yet but it’s huge from a motivational standpoint to see it stuck together:

Note the down-pipe would never work for this setup but it would be cool! This is actually the turbocharger I plan on using with Albert but it’s not going there:

Time for paint I think things fit and finished:

Looks good smoked:

With the transmission squared away it was time to address the clutch kit, instead of ordering your Subaru flywheel online just go to the auto parts store, I paid a measly $75 for a brand new flywheel:

This clutch kit is a “Stage II”:

Stuffing it all into the engine bay:

Having never personally seen a SVX Vanagon it was quite a day when I decided to test fit the whole swap in Albert for the first time. The first time I went to shove the lump under I realized how much of a chore it was, having never actually installed an engine “Fiero” or “MR-2″ style before meant more uncharted territory. The lowest hanging part of the vanagon will need to be a minimum of 25 – 26” off the ground in order to clear the SVX Engine’s throttle body which is the highest point on the engine swap.

I used an old “stop sign pole” as a cross brace to suspend the engine swap from, in this picture the engine is suspended here and the transmission mount has been bolted up:

I used a jack underneath to level the engine in the bay:

Next up was to get the engine secured in the engine bay the rest of the way, now because the EG33 has two extra cylinders on it the stock VW rear cross member must be moved to accommodate the larger size. When holding up the VW cross member to the potentially new location a major issue became evident, the frame rails narrow slightly as they get closer to the rear. This caused the holes for the cross member to be wider than the frame was at the rear, and after some brainstorming came up with a solution. I took two pieces of angle iron and notched one side for the bumper bolts and drilled holes in the other side for the cross member to actually bolt to. I also added another set of bolts that hold the cross member to the van, bringing the total up to 6. I am not really confident in how this will handle 300hp so when I start on turbocharging project I may fabricate an entirely new, beefier cross-member and anchor points at the same time. First I bolted up the EG33 side of the engine mount hardware and attached 2 of the 5 rubber mounts to hold the cross member up for alignment:

Here are the holes where the bumper bolts go through, prepare to spend some time drilling. I actually had a drill press I was able to reverse the drill direction of so I could drill upwards:

The notched angle iron:

When setting up to mark your new cross-member holes remember to take your time! You will need to measure everything and make it as center as possible, also be sure that your cross member is facing the correct direction and is not pre-loading the mounts in any funny directions. I spent about 30 minutes taking measurements and making adjustments before I finally locked in on a good location:

This gave me a first realistic look at the ground clearence for the oil pan, this was a noted concern that was brought up when scouring the internet but really on the 2WD it’s not as bad as I was expecting:

Sitting in the bay for the first time without help:

Looking from the side:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.