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Which Diesel Engine is Best for Me?
Which Diesel Engine is Best for Me?
Which Diesel Engine is Best for Me?

The Largest one your wallet can afford! Sorry but I hear that question constantly and most of the time there is no easy answer. I will try to explain here the positives and the negatives of the various VW engines in this summary.

Please take it with a grain of salt since the observations are colored by my personal driving habits and I am a power whore. I also get a lot of feed back from customers and shops that install these engines. I would also like to point out that I drive most of the cars before I take the drive train out of them in Germany.

Teaser picture


The Diesel engine is approximately 30 to 60 % more efficient than the gas engine. If you drive your Syncro Westy only 5000 miles a year and you are happy with the power of the gas engine why do the conversion?

How much power do I need?

The Diesel engine is most efficient at 50 to 70% throttle. If you look at the power curve of the VW Diesel or Turbo Diesel engine you will notice how steep the torque curve comes up and than goes down where the HP curve still goes up. You will get the most bang for the buck if you stay at or around peak torque. The diesel engine uses a certain amount of fuel for each HP it produces. You need to stay in an area where you get the most torque with the least amount of HP. That is why you need  to make sure you purchase an engine that has a nice power reserve for what you need.

TDI Torque Curve Chart

Indirect Injection vs. Direct Injection

In the Indirect injection diesel engine the fuel goes first in a pre chamber and from there into the combustion chamber. The fuel efficiency of a VW IDI engine is 264 g/kwh. They come as natural aspirated (D) or turbo versions (TD). The nice thing about those engines is the simplicity. The bad thing is the higher fuel consumption which generates more heat therefore lowering its effeciency. The Direct injected diesel engine was first used in big trucks and ships. The diesel goes straight from the injector to the combustion chamber. The piston has a protrusion with a dome in the center. This makes the air really squirrel around in the combustion chamber and gives you a better mix of air and diesel. The injection pressure is also way higher in the Direct Injected engine. VW achieved 25 % more efficiency with the TDI and SDI engine. The fuel efficiency of the VW Direct Injected engine is 207 g/kwh That also means a lot less heat goes into the radiator. You can see this very good when you compare the radiator of a Golf 2,  1.6 TD engine with the radiator of a Golf 3 with a 1.9 TDI engine. The Direct Injected engine also comes as a natural aspirated (SDI) and turbo ( TDI ) version.  VW came out with the first generation TDI car engines in 1993. The engine codes where 1Z/AHU (90 HP) and AFN (110 HP). I think this is the best engine for a conversion. It has the same block and oil pan as the earlier Indirect Injection engines. The later TDI engines ALH ( 90 HP) and AHF ( 110 HP) have a different block and oil pan .

The bad thing about the TDI engine is the complexity of the wiring harness, computer and sensors. This makes it to hard for most shops and home mechanics to install.

Then came the M-TDI. You take the electronic out of the injection pump and use the top parts of the TD pump and you have the best of both worlds. Yes the M-TDI engine looses some of it efficiency but it is still way better than the Indirect Injected engine. The problem was just the price of the pumps ( approx.  $1200 for a USA made pump or $300 for a Chinese copy ) and the set up of the timing. That took a lot of trial and error and the customer was on his own doing that. We went ahead and bought an engine DYNO and hired an American company to do the pumps for us. Now you can buy an M-TDI engine that has the pump installed with a new belt and tensioner. The engine is set up and dialed in on our DYNO. You can watch a video of each engine running and get a print out of the HP (75 to 95HP) and Torque (145 to 200 ft. lbs.) it produced.

NOW you can buy an M-TDI engine that has the pump installed and is dialed in. This takes the guess work out on your end. Each of our M-TDI engines comes with a video and a dyno sheet.



All VW and Audi cars are front wheel drive. There are adaptors for alot of the rear wheel drive cars.  Samuari, Toyota Pick up and other cars  would greatly benefit from a fuel miser diesel engine. So we looked around in Germany and found a lot of nice engine for those cars but then you have a spare parts issue. So we decided to start importing the Mercedes OM 612 engine. This engine was used in the Mercedes Sprinter (Also sold as Dodge and Freightliner Sprinter). It is an inline 5 cylinder 270 CDI engine with a VNT Turbo. CDI stands for common rail direct injection. The engine has 2700cc (2.7 L) 170 Hp at 4200 RPM and 295  Ft. Lbs of Torque between 1800 and 2800 RPM. It comes with Automatic or manual Trans. Call me we can discuss further 760-241-9504


1600 Natural Aspirated Diesel Engine 

VW came out with the 1.6 diesel  engine in 1981. It came with 50 HP and was used up to 1985. We have very very few of those in stock. In 1986 VW upgraded the 1.6 engine to hydraulic lifters and increased the power to 54 HP and  the torque to 74 foot lbs. at 2300 to 2900 RPM. This engine is good and used  for small boats or stationary engines. You may use it in a Rabbit or Rabbit pick up that is used around town or very moderate driving. They are very slow. In 1981 and 1982 some Vanagons were sold with this engine but most are converted because of lack of power. This engine is only for the hard core tree hugger or granny driving to church on Sunday. 

1900 Diesel Natural aspirated engine 

This is the Natural Aspirated version of the famous AAZ engine. The engine code is 1Y. It came out first in 1990 in the Passat and was used up to 1997 in almost every VW. The block is pretty much the same as the 1.6 and all the mounting holes are the same. The block is a little taller than the 1.6. The engine has a reputation in Germany as “ nicht kaputt zu bekommen” that means indistructable. The engine is rated at 68 HP (4400 RPM) and 94 pounds of torque (2000- 3000 RPM). As you can see this engine has a very wide power band and is perfect for lighter cars. You can also transfer the exhaust and intake manifold from your 1.6 Diesel to this engine and everything will look like stock. This engine works very well with the Samurai but you need to modify the intake manifold or use the one from the gas engine. The stock intake manifold with hit the hood. This engine is enough to keep up with traffic in a Rabbit, Rabbit Pick Up,  Golf or Jetta but is underpowered in mountain areas,  heavy cars or with fast drivers. Many of our Rabbit Pick Up customers enjoy this engine as a direct replacement, no hassle replacement for their slow 1600 Diesel.

1600 Turbo Diesel ECO version.


VW came out with this engine in 1989. The engine code is 1 V. It was sold in very big numbers in Germany and the rest of Europe. It was set up to deliver very good gas mileage. It does not have a boost valve on top of the injection pump. It always burned 100 % of the fuel. The turbo (K14) was small and that kept the turbo lag (the engine has to rev up to make enough exhaust pressure to spin the turbo) to a minimum. The engine was rated at 60 HP with an Catalytic converter. The engine generates approximately 65 HP (4500 RPM) and 90 foot lbs. of torque (2400-2600 RPM) without the catalytic convertor. This engine works good in a Suzuki Samurai that has stock tires and is used on the street only. It also is a good starting engine for the Rabbit, Rabbit Pick Ups, and Jetta.


1600 Turbo Diesel with 70 HP 

The engine code is JR. The engine was sold in the USA with engine code MF. This engine is liked by some of the old timers. The main reason is that they never had a chance to drive some of the European engines. This engine has the load enrichment valve on top of the pump. It injects extra diesel when the turbo builds boost. The engine came with 69 HP and 98 foot lbs. of torque at 2500 RPM. The engine is easily tuned. The bad thing is the big turbo (Garret T3). That was the downfall of this engine in Germany because German drivers never liked the big turbo lag of this engine. That and the way higher fuel consumption. This engine works good for people that like the feeling when the turbo finally kicks in. You can feel some power there but that is about it.

1600 TD High Output 

The engine code is SB/RA. This engine had 80 HP with the help of an even bigger water cooled turbo (Garret T2) and an intercooler. It came in the Golf GTD and for a short time in the Passat .It was the diesel version of the famous Golf GTI. A very powerful engine for sporty drivers with the same short comings as the 70 HP version.

1900 TD engine

This is the famous AAZ engine. Probably one of the BEST TD engines VW ever made. It has 75 HP and 114 foot pounds of torque at 2200 to 2800 RPM. The only engine better for conversions is the 1900 M-TDI engine. The engine came with a very small turbo (KO3/K14). There is very little turbo lag. The engine is capable of a lot more power (around 80 HP) with the help of an intercooler. Some make over 100 HP. Most of these engines came with an serpentine belt set up. This is the smallest engine that will work with an AC.There are several different injection pumps used on this engine but they all make 75 HP.This engine is perfect for the Suzuki Samurai conversion and for Rabbits, Golfs and Jettas . This engine has been used in other conversions as well throughout the years. Afterall it is VW.

Update 5-8-21: This engine gets harder to find with low miles. So now we offer 2 go through the engine install new bearings, rings, head gasket and seals. We also recommend to go with a new turbo. If you do not see an engine listed please call and we can put you on the waiting list. 


As you can tell by now this is MY FAVORITE ENGINE. The engine we are using for this conversion is 1Z/AHU Style. They had 60,000 to 90,000 miles when they were removed from cars in Germany. Coming from Germany means that the engines have rust and are not pretty. We do clean the engines as good as we can but they still may not be the prettiest. We are using a hybrid pump that is rebuilt for us here in the USA. We do a lot of changes to the pump to make the engine run Properly. All the parts we are using in the pump are Bosch. It is no problem to have the pump rebuilt at a Reputable Bosch pump rebuilder if you ever feel the need to do so in the future. We also install a new German timing belt, both new German tensioners,  New German water pump,  New German thermostat and  Bosch glow plugs.

The engines make 150 to 170 Ft. Lbs. of torque at around 2200 RPM, we can make more power with higher boost or bigger nozzles, just let us know what your preference is.  The original engine makes 145 Ft. Lbs. of torque between 1900 and 3000 RPM so our engine makes more power but the power band is not as wide because we can not change the internal pump timing like the computer does. This engine starts at $4,000.00 with 3 month warranty.

Update 5-8-21: Used TDI engine that are running very well are getting harder to find because of the age of the vehicles. We recommed that you step up to a reconditioned M-TDI with new turbo. 


Reconditioned M-TDI

We take one of our used engines inspect and hone the block,  and paint the block, install new main and rod bearings, rings, head gasket, head bolts, waterhoses, belts, gaskets and seals. All the replacement parts are made in Germany or the EU. New German timing belt, both new German tensioners,  New German water pump,  New German thermostat and  Bosch glow plugs.This engine starts at $5,000.00 with 3 month warranty.


Update 5-8-21: We strongly recommend to upgrade to a new Turbo. 

Like New M-TDI

We start out with a low mileage used engine. We take it apart, clean, paint, bore the block and install new oversize Kolbenschmidt pistons and rings. Install new main and rod bearings, head gasket, head bolts, waterhoses, belts, gaskets and seals. The Crank is micropolished or machined. The rods are rebuilt. The head is rebuilt and the turbo is NEW. The flywheel is resurfaced. We install new intermediate bearings and a new harmonic balancer,  New German timing belt,  New German water pump,  New German thermostat and  Bosch glow plugs. This engne starts at $6,500.00  with 6 Month Warranty.