87 Diesel Cabriolet project by OverdriveGear

By stevegolf
( 2 )

8 minute(s) of a 8 minute read


87 Diesel Cabriolet project

Compliments of OverdriveGear @ www.vwvortex.com


1.6 NA Diesel (Hydraulic lifter head) engine code ME out of an 86 Jetta. Rebuilt top end, rubber valve cover gasket, ARP studs. AGS transmission with extra tall 0.71:1 fifth gear added. I'm in the process of wiring up the glow plug circuit with cluster LED, relay, etc.
This is going to be my 55 MPG (what I can get in my A2 Golf) cruiser!


Here is the engine before going in:

All of this gasoline wiring will not be used. I have to neatly tuck it away:

I really do not like fixing other people's hack wiring jobs...including the factory.


This weekend, I'm going to remove the catalytic converter, cut the flanges off, and weld them to a stainless straight pipe. Also, I'm going to wire in a circuit for the glow plugs and should have the thing started for the first time! Pics to come soon.


Here are my updates. Y'all that are planning on doing this swap: GET TO IT! 
Catalytic converter issue settled. Took off the flanges and welded them to a 2.5" stainless steel tube bypass and made some gaskets with high temp gasket material. Pretty straight-forward.

I also finished the glow plug wiring with an OEM relay. I just need to trouble shoot it (the timer circuit is not working and the relay is staying on constantly). After I do this, I have to tackle the fuel pump issue. Honestly, I don't even know what all this stuff is on the gasoline engine (look at pics). Not sure what needs to go.


I removed the high pressure pump and fuel accumulator. Just took the stainless line that bridges the pump and accumulator, added a brass barb fitting where the fuel tank supply goes to the fuel pump and the other side is the same as it was before. The hot side of the fuel pump electrical was plugged so it won't ground out. Simplicity.



I got the car started this past weekend using a gasoline starter and gasoline battery. It was very underpowered so I'm getting the real deal diesel starter and 1000 CCA battery. The main lead from the battery to the starter is a short run of welding cable...
I'm officially pulling the trigger on a performance Giles Pump ! It should be here in a week and a half. Costs a lot of coin, but everyone swears by them so it must be awesome.


Here it is! Can't wait to put it on. 


New updates:

I modified the filler tube to accept a diesel nozzle. I pulled the tube out, cut it and removed the insert, and re-welded it.

Timed my Giles pump to 0.89 mm and ran all of the fuel lines to the existing CIS fuel line infrastructure. The engine started and sounds great. I'll take a video and upload it to youtube to share.


I got the Giles pump timed to 0.95 mm. For the fuel system, I left the in-tank transfer pump to bring fuel to my injection pump, but now this transfer pump is a 'key on' device. I took the fuel pump relay out and jumped pin 15 to pin 87 on the relay block, therefore the key on signal is going to power the transfer pump. Since this is low current, it shouldn't be a problem.


Quasi finished product: 



I got all new Rabbit Diesel mounts for the car before the engine went in. I didn't check part numbers or do a spectral analysis but from visual inspection, they're the same thing. That is the injection pump mount, side transmission mount, rear differential mount, steering rack mounts, and front transmission ball and socket mount. 

Don't get sucked into that urethane nonsense with a diesel. You'll hate life. All of my mounts are stock rubber and it's smooth as butter (relatively speaking). Plus, new rubber is plenty tight for these cars. There's really no need to go to urethane. But then again, I don't intend to go fast or sport drive my car. It's all about cruising and looking good 


It's amazing how much better a diesel will run with a cold air intake.



I've been road tripping the diesel cabriolet all over the south east. To North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Florida. People dig the little vw that sounds like a tank. In case anyone is wondering, I've been getting 52-55 mpg on the highway. 

I'm going to keep the 1.6 NA as long as possible. Once it's given up, it'll be a full-on electronic control TDI swap. I'd love to see some more folks attempt a diesel swap. 

Check out the Cabriolet super-trailer:

And the mountain goat golf:

That's not Canada, it's Athens, Georgia.


No updates for the diesel system. It works flawlessly  

Working on rebuilding the front suspension, new wheel bearings, and getting rid of the power steering rack: 



I made a custom bracket for the stock fuel filter and mounted it on the passenger strut tower. Reason being was because I left all the stock fuel lines that run up the firewall and bend to the passenger side where the previous CIS system was. So there you have it. I tried to make it easy on myself and reduce clutter. 


Anyone else trying to do a diesel Cabriolet? 

A decent 1.6 turbo diesel swapped 1992 Cabriolet sold on Ebay earlier this month for over $4k. Consequently, that was the most expensive cabriolet sold on all of ebay.