Is a Super Turbo Bug possible?
July 12, 2007 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Are there any reasons why a Porsche engine could not be put into a '74 Volkwagen Beetle?

A friend of mine has 1974 Volkswagen Beetle that he is having restored. He wants to put a Porsche engine in it, because he thinks it would be fun. Are there any reasons (mechanical, electrical, physics, etc.) why this could not be done? Money isn't really an issue, and the man loves his Bug. Thanks in advance!
posted by bolognius maximus to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total)
The way I see it, the engine is physically smaller than the car, so it really only depends on how much work he wants to put into it right? Case in point.
posted by niles at 3:18 PM on July 12, 2007

jamie oliver has a porsche engine in his VW van, so a beetle conversion should be possible, as I think both vehicles have almost the same amount of room allocated for the engine.
posted by parmanparman at 3:20 PM on July 12, 2007

A Porsche flat-four might fit (from a 356, 912, 914/4 ?), a flat-six would require a lot more work. However, I don't think a flat-four Porsche engine would not give you any more displacement than you could get with a big-bore Super beetle engine.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:22 PM on July 12, 2007

You can - back in the day, quite a few did - get the four cylinder engine from the 356/912 series in the engine bay of a Beetle without too much fuss, assuming your friend is mechnically adept. But it's a fool's errand, as it only makes marginally more power than a contemporary VW mill

On preview, what BrotherC said
posted by mojohand at 3:28 PM on July 12, 2007

...Porsche engine would not give you any...
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:46 PM on July 12, 2007

My stepfather was something like $300 away from doing this when he totaled his bug. I talked to him, and he says that there is no real reason why this couldn't be done, as long as you have alot of money or time(and skill) to throw at it. He also says that only some engines will physically fit (and even fewer will not be a huge hassle to put in.) Basically, what BC said.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 4:30 PM on July 12, 2007

I don't know the details, but the late Alan Clark wrote in his diaries about how he installed a Porsche engine in a Beetle. If I remember correctly he talks about it being the perfect 'Q Car', and taking great enjoyment in scaring the living daylights out of reps in Ford Mondeos with it. A little light on details - but it has been done.
posted by prentiz at 4:49 PM on July 12, 2007

I rememberr reading, back in the early 70's, that Paul Newman drove a Bug with a Porsche engine. I'm rather certain of that. The notion always enthralled me.

These days, the idea of driving a vintage Porshce enthralls... I just Googled "paul newman porsche vw" and learned that it was a 356 engine. You can certainly do better if you try.

I can't imagine the retrofits and mods it would take to make it more than a curiosity these days, however. The thought of driving any distance in a bug these days, regardless of powertrain, is not a pleasant one, based upon my experience.

Good Luck!!
posted by private_idaho at 7:19 PM on July 12, 2007

Head over to the forums at They know all this kind of esoteric VW stuff.
posted by LarryC at 7:36 PM on July 12, 2007

Your going to need a smart mechanic/engineer friend to fabricate custom drive shafts, and other custom mounts and such. Its definitely a do-able project given enough resources. I would start by getting the exact area you are working with, and start looking at what Porsche motors will work contained in such an area.
posted by SirStan at 7:57 PM on July 12, 2007

Ja ... not too hard for the porche 4cyl boxer engines ... but why would you? if you want a porche buy a porche.

Consider that if you want more power ... you could hot up the beetle engine or install a porche engine ... but then you have the next problem ... the beetle just ain't a porche ... it is designed to be a safe reliable car at less than 60hp ... make it more powerfull and other things need to be fixed like the brakes, suspension, transmission, etc.etc.etc.

easier (and cheaper) to just start with a porche.

trust me ... I knew lots of people who hotted up their bugs ... all regretted it!

posted by jannw at 5:17 AM on July 13, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers-he's still trying to decide if he's going to give it a go or not.
posted by bolognius maximus at 5:56 AM on July 13, 2007

Might be simpler and more cost effective to put a better bug motor in rather than a Porsche motor. You can coax amazing amounts of power out of the 1800cc mill with the right cam, carb and exhaust.

Alternatively, I've seen a similar project that he might enjoy: I saw a 914 at a car show with a Chevy 289 motor in it. That thing was freakishly powerful and awesome in a gratuitous way.
posted by TeamBilly at 7:13 AM on July 13, 2007

It's really tough to get good power from a normally aspirated engine without increasing displacement. It's just not economical, and only worth doing if you're racing in a certain (restricted) class or you just lerve N-A motors. It'd just suck to go through a ton of work, spend $5-10k, and only bump the power by 20%.

If you want to, say, double the power, you really need to go forced induction. (My daily-driven '97 Miata went from 130bhp to a 250bhp/250lbft with 15psi of boost on the stock 1.8L engine -- Honda S2000s rev to over 9k rpms and can't do that.)

I say build a bug motor with forged bottom end and low (< 9.0:1) compression, then turbocharge or supercharge it. I'd go fuel injection for drivability, but it can be done carburated. Unfortunately, the New Beetle is stomping all over Google, so I really dunno if there are any kits or resources out there for forced induction original Beetles.

Or stuff a WRX drivetrain into it.
posted by LordSludge at 8:31 AM on July 13, 2007

I owned a 914/4 1.7L. It (and I'm pretty sure 912) used a VW Bus engine. Really the early Porsches came pretty much from the VW parts bin until the 911 I believe.
As someone else mentioned the way to go would be get a bud engine bore it out to 2.0L and replace the fuel injection with dual carbs. This was the route many 914 and 912 owners took.
Not sure if an early 911/6 would fit in a bug, but I've seen them in VW buses.
posted by evilelf at 10:30 AM on July 13, 2007

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