V6 Transplant Diary - January 2003

Wednesday - 1 January

After welcoming in the new year I wasn't exactly in the mood for an early start. After I finally got around to driving over Brad's to work on my car, I had a fairly productive day for such a short one.

I have almost finished the mess of wiring, and have successfully integrated all of the Mazda gauges with the VW lighting, fuel and indicator functions. The only thing they aren't doing is the speedo which will take some more clever thinking to work out the best way to do it. For now I will just hang the VW speedo under the dash somewhere.


One day when I get bored I will also clean up the mess of wires behind the dash. As you can see, it may take a while.

I also managed to mount the surge tank in the car, and mount the fuel tank. I found a pin hole in the fuel tank and had to weld it up which was a pain.

I finished the last of the radiator hoses and clamps, and plumbed in the demister unit. I then filled the radiator with fluid and started the engine to get it warm. After a few minutes the cooling system was pressurized and I found no leaks. I then let it keep idling to see when the thermo fans would come on. After about 5 mins they still weren't on and the temperature gauge was below half-way. It seemed idling didn't generate enough heat. So I stuck a screw between the throttle and it's stop to keep the RPM a little over 2,000. After a couple of minutes the first thermo came on. It was on for a minute and then off again. I guess they must be working.

Now to get the back wheels back on the car, and an exhaust....

Thursday - 2 January

Well I got the wheels and exhaust on.

As you can see the exhaust is very tight. There is a flange, a flexible joint, a cat, and then a CBR1100 muffler. It is amazing how quite the CBR1100 muffler is. I think it may be restricting the engine a little being so quite.

The disc brake kits are also finished and working. Various other little jobs were also completed today like making brackets for radiator overflow, making throttle cable adaptors, wiring all the engines earths, etc.

Basically the car is now drivable. Hopefully I will finish the firewall tomorrow and get it approved so I can take it for a test drive.

Friday - 3 January

This update is a bit late. I had to do it from my girlfriends parents house which involved finding a suitable ftp program and writing this page in html. The other annoying part is the computer is old and doesn't have a USB port so I can't download any picture from my camera :(

I managed to do the finishing (for now anyway) touches on the wiring and engine parts. For now I have mounted the air filter on the end of the air flow meter, which is directly in the path of hot air, but it's ok for now until I find the parts to mount it elsewhere. I also installed a aluminium checker plate firewall, so the car was ready to be driven.

I took the car for a 20 minute drive (to be inspected of course) and the car ran well. At first it felt sluggish but then got more responsive the further I drove. I think the computer was relearning the mapping somewhat.

The car is quicker than what it was before, but not anywhere near as quick as it should be. Brad said when I gave the car a quick squirt it was quieter than a new commodore. So I think by the looks and sounds of the exhaust it is severely restricting flow and really hurting performance. When we were building the exhaust Brad couldn't physically hold the muffler on the headers while I revved the engine. So I think a bigger free flowing exhaust is definitely on the cards. The smoothness of the engine is great. I have a monsterously tall 4th gear (2,200 rpm @ 100kph) and the engine doesn't car if you lug around in 4th at 60kph.

The noise from in the car is fantastic. While cruising it is very quite inside, you can hardly hear the engine. But when you open it up you get a great tough revvy V6 sound. I tried to give the car a hard time to see how the cooling went, and it seems to be coping just fine.

Basically the engine has two thermo fans, which from what I can tell are both dual speed fans. First one fan comes on low, then the other, then at some stage one or both goes to high speed mode which you can actually hear from inside the car. I only only heard the high speed come on for a short period when I was accelerating full throttle up a very long hill at 5,000+rpm. So basically I think the radiator where it is will cope just fine.

I will take some more pics tomorrow, but won't be able to upload them until I get home to Townsville on Sunday night.

Sunday - 5 January

OK, so I promised some pictures.

finishing touches.jpg (69879 bytes)
Me putting the finishing touches on the rear spoiler

rear disc.jpg (59696 bytes)
Rear XF Falcon vented disc brakes, a little dirty under there

side view.jpg (87846 bytes)
Side view, rear is sitting around 2 inches lower than normal and needs resetting

V6 baja.jpg (70496 bytes)
Rear angle view with full engine cage fitted

dash.jpg (57388 bytes)
Partly finished dash

no engine cover.jpg (66399 bytes)
Evening photo with top of engine cage removed and car washed

clean engine.jpg (67760 bytes)
Clean engine, air filter still needs relocating as it is currently sucking hot radiator air.

I am now back in Townsville, and ended up flying up here as I didn't get the Baja finished early enough to fly up here. So the Baja will sit in my shed for about 4 months until I come back to Brisbane in April/May. 

But before I left I did end up driving my Baja around my house and neighbors houses (the joy of acreage) for about 1 1/2 hours (in 32 deg C / 90 deg F weather). During that time the thermos turned on to high speed a couple of times, but always turned off soon after and never remained on constantly. The temperature gauge never went above half way. So I am pretty confident that the radiator will cool just fine where it is. The sort of driving I was doing was mainly slow offroading up and down hills, with the occasional hard acceleration up to 100kph. During this sort of driving was when the old VW engine got the hottest.

The exhaust is definitely restricting performance at the moment. You can feel the engine struggle especially over 6,000rpm. Actually from about 4,000-8,000rpm the engine feels restricted. But the car is by no means slow, it is faster than it was and it wasn't too bad before. The air filter position could be better to, and will be relocated when I figure out the best way to pipe it somewhere. The engine sound is awesome. From outside the car it is very quite, but from inside the car it is much louder, probably due to the intake position. The engine almost has a tough V8 sound to it. 

So road performance is great, the engine is smooth and quiet when needed. The low down torque and smoothness is something a VW engine will never provide. I drove out of a corner at 1,000rpm smoothly thinking I was in second gear, only to find I was in third!

But the offroading is the amazing part. I have a few hills in my yard that a 4WD would have trouble on without carrying a little bit of speed. I took a friend for a drive up this hill (a fellow Baja owner). I aimed at the hill and kept the throttle at about 900rpm in first, just crawling. My friend said "your not getting up at this speed". "Yes I am" I replied. As we got to the steeper rutted section I increased the RPM a little to maybe 1,200rpm. The engine just chugged away happily. We hit some deeply rutted sections where the currently lower than normal back suspension height allowed the engine cage to drag on the ground momentarily. At the same time the wheel slipped and the revs rose a little, but almost instantly after the mud tyres dug in and found some grip once again and we continued up the hill at ~1,000rpm. As we crested the top my friend laughed and said "I can see why you chose this engine now, that's awesome". I can tell you that a VW engine would never have pulled off a silly display of low down smoothness like that. I think the engine smoothness has definitely increased the offroading ablility of the car. The added engine weight seems to only have added to the traction the car gets on hills. And no it didn't feel like going over backwards.

To someone into old skool carb'ed engines like me, the smoothness of the KLZE is amazing. The engine had a cam and valves big enough to let it breath freely all the way to 8,000rpm, yet the EFI and other computer controlled features mean you don't lose any low down smoothness like a big cam carb'ed engine. 

And here are some answers to questions people have asked via email.

I so far haven't noticed any oil surge problems as some people thought I might encounter, even on very steep offroad slopes where the VW engine would encounter problems.

I will still be running a back seat with seat belts.

I guess the first public viewing of the car will be Valla VW Show at the start of August (I can't make it to the Nationals in April as I am stuck in Townsville). 

I still haven't decided to go with a single muffler, or twin exhausts (one either side). I'm still investigating the exhaust area.

The rear suspension height will easily be fixed by readjusting the rear spring plates (torsion bar suspension)

The pipebending was a friends (Brad's), which he rents to other friends for a one off fee of $100. He also has a pipe notcher, Speedworks brand I think.

The adaptor plate and custom flywheel seem to be working fine. The 2lt VW starter turns the high compression V6 easy (with my 520 CCA battery anyway).

A few people have asked " I was wondering if the V6's added weight and higher Centre of Gravity affected your handling ( body roll?? ) when cornering at road speeds?? ". Basically the center of gravity and weight increase is only the same increase as if someone sits in the middle of the back seat in a regular Baja. Similar weight increase at a similar height. Since the Baja CoG is already high you don't really notice the difference. The extra weight just means the rear torsion bars need adjusting, and gives more grip offroad. I didn't really notice much difference in handling, just that the rear needs readjusting and maybe stiffer type 3 rear torsion bars.

No I am not crazy

Finally, I want everyone who read this diary to go to my guestbook and post a comment of what they thought of it. Peoples good comments are what makes me keep doing this site, if you don't comment, I won't bother. I also like to know who is reading!

I will also add a full list of cost when I get all the various prices together, so people get an idea of how much this sort of thing costs. All the little things you don't think about add up.

Saturday - 11 January

I have put together a list of what I think I have spent on the conversion. I need to check some figures, but it is basically right. I have also rang a wrecker who said he will buy my unused half cut parts, so the list won't be complete until I take the bits down to them when I get back to Brisbane.

I have decided to put this list up in a hope that it will give other people a better idea of the real costs of a conversion. Even after you have done a conversion it is easy to forget about the cost of the "Consumables".  ALL PRICES IN AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS.

Item Price Qty Total
Adaptor / clutch Stuff      
Profile Cut Alloy Eng Adapter $66.00 1 $66.00
Custom flywheel machining $264.00 1 $264.00
2L Clutch Plate $166.00 1 $166.00
2L Throw out bearing  $31.00 1 $31.00
Hole saw $15.00 1 $15.00
4" Grinding wheels $2.50 4 $10.00
4" Cutting wheels $2.50 3 $7.50
4" Flapper disc $4.50 2 $9.00
Cut off wheels $6.50 3 $19.50
Mini Flappers die grinder $2.00 1 $2.00
Steel pipe - for stiffening rear $55.00 3 $165.00
Flat Steel Bar $45.00 1 $45.00
Bolts - various $80.00 1 $80.00
Pipe Bender use - mates rates $100.00 1 $100.00
Welder - gas and wire $70.00 1 $70.00
Misc Parts      
Fuel line steel 8mm length $19.00 1 $19.00
Exhaust Bend - 2" mandrel U turn $20.00 1 $20.00
Radiator Coolant $10.00 1 $10.00
Stainless tube - for radiator $44.00 1 $44.00
Surge Tank - Mates rates $40.00 1 $40.00
626 intank EFI pump $165.00 1 $165.00
Radiator hoses - assorted $48.00 1 $48.00
Rear Disc Stuff      
VW Rear Brake Flex hoses ?? $16.00 2 $32.00
Pipe for handbrake $5.00 1 $5.00
Brake Fluid $12.00 1 $12.00
XF Disc Pads $45.00 1 $45.00
Calliper Nuts $1.00 1 $1.00
2nd hand XF rear discs & calipers $150.00 1 $150.00
Rear adaptor rings for disc $20.00 2 $40.00
Machine type 3 VW hubs to suit $20.00 2 $40.00
Half cut - MX6 Jap KLZE $2,500.00 1 $2,500.00
Total cost of stuff bought     $4,221.00
Stuff no longer needed, >sold      
1915 VW motor - sold cheap to a mate -$2,300.00 1 -$2,300.00
MX6 Steering wheel & plastic bit - SA -$100.00 1 -$100.00
MX6 gear stick - sold NSW -$50.00 1 -$50.00
MX6 gearbox - sold to PK in Perth -$450.00 1 -$450.00
MX6 steering rack - sold NSW -$150   -$150
Stuff still to be sold   
MX6 starter


MX6 front disc brakes and equip ?    
MX6 drive shafts / stub axles ?    
MX6 4WS steering rack ?    


*other bits, will take them all to a wrecker at a later date and update this page.
Total cost of conversion to me >V6 engine and rear discs $1,171.00

Since my old motor wasn't too bad, this conversion has ended up being pretty cheap.