Author Topic: Golf MK2 m-TDI Swap  (Read 17123 times)

February 23, 2014, 04:43:29 pm


  • User+

  • Offline
  • *

  • 38
Golf MK2 m-TDI Swap
« on: February 23, 2014, 04:43:29 pm »
 Hi all,
 I got much of the imformation for my project from this site, so to make me feel like less of a moocher I thought I would compile everything for the benifit of others who might be interested in a similar undertaking. Here is an overview of my TDI swap experience -

  Early last year after having my butt handed to me a few too many times by soccer moms in mini-vans, and getting weary of constantly topping up the oil in my old 1.6, I came to the conclusion that an engine upgrade was in order for the '86 Golf. I didn't want to add computerization and electrical complexity to what is such an analog, mechanical car, so therefore hadn't thought too much about doing a TDI swap.  When I found out through this forum though about people in the last couple of years succesfully converting these engines to mechanical injection, I was immediately sold on the idea.
   With a Land Rover 300TDI injector pump already on the way from eBay UK, I set about to find a good 1Z or AHU drivetrain and eventually came across "hillfolk" Blake's ad in the for-sale section of this forum for the '98 Jetta that he had been trying to get out of his hangar for awhile -

  I convinced Blake to sell me just the parts for the swap and "let" him keep the shell since he had already pulled the engine anyway, and he helped out greatly by removing the few last parts from the car and having everything ready to go. After waiting a couple of weeks for the snow to disperse from winter storm Nemo, I hitched up my trailer and headed North on the car's last road trip under 1.6 power. The car performed flawlessley througout the 2 day 1600 mile round trip from upstate S.C. to upstate N.Y. and averaged about 39 mpg with the trailer.

Here are some video clips I took at a few points on the way up  -

 And the trailer all loaded up in Lagrangeville -

  I decided to get the new (AHU) engine running before proceding with anything else so I started work on it just a few days later. First I replaced the the leaky K03 turbo with a rebuilt one, removed the EGR plumbing and installed a block off plate in its place, then removed the electronic injector pump which I later sold for more than enough money to  pay for the Landy pump.
    To mount the Land Rover pump, all that was required was slotting the 3 mounting holes with a dremel tool for timing adjustment, boring out the hole in the cast iron pump bracket, swapping the rear pump bracket over from the 1.6 pump, and swapping over the 4 delivery valves for the shorter ones from the TDI pump. I used the pulley from the TDI pump, and set the timing with a dial indicator to an initial setting of 1.25mm and made no other adjustments to the pump.

Here is the first start-up -

 And here is a picture showing my temporary intercooler delete pipe, Perrin manual boost controller, and aircraft spruce 10-01478 EGT gauge probe -

 The AHU engine block thanks to a much appreciated stroke of genius by some VW engineer shares all of it's accessory bracket mounting positions with the old IDI engines, so for the alternator and water pump drive, all that was required was swapping on the MK2 alternator bracket and all 3 pulleys, and doing a little trimming on the bottom of the timing belt cover. (my car does not have any A/C or power steering pumps to fuss with)
    With the engine and transmission ready to go with new oil seals all around, a new timing belt, and a new clutch, I then had to convert the car's gear change mechanism from rod to cable shift to accomodate the 02A transmission. This was alot easier than I thought it would be and simply involved removing the old mechanism, and filing a few small slots in the edges of the mk3 one to allow it to sandwich in between the bolts holding it to the car. I also applied some new foam rubber weatherstripping where the shifter box seals to the interior.
mk2 and mk3 mechanisms-

mk3 mechanism installed -

 For the speedometer cable, I ended up removing the electronic part of the 02A sending unit and adapting the original cable into the gear part with a slotted piece pipe and some safety wire. The original cable just slides into the pipe and hasn't tried to jump out yet. Accuracy is spot on just like with the 020 gearbox. Here is a pic of my first attempt (I had to do it again because d'oh! the wire is on the wrong side of the threads) -

  Even though I could have converted the transmission to cable clutch, I made the right decision and converted the car to hydraulic control instead. I used the pedal cluster from a B4 Passat, the original mk2 brake cylinder and booster, a 357612209A brake booster bracket from a non ABS Corrado, and a 357721401 clutch master cylinder. The cluster I got was missing the accelerator pedal so I used the mk2 one which required some grinding, and for the clutch line I used the one from the mk3 which required some bending in order to fit.
   The pedal swap was by far the worst part of the whole project due to the nature of the work, but in the end the feel and ease of use with the hydraulic clutch have more than made up for all the hassle.
   I had read somewhere that the mk3 engine and trans. would bolt right in to the mk2 subframe so I installed new (mk2) motor mounts and attempted to do just that. Turns out that the mk3 engine and/or transmission has slightly different spacing so here is what I got when I tried to put it in -

  I did not have a mk3 subframe lying around, so to make it work for the time being I ended up drilling a new hole further back on the engine's front mounting tab and prying the whole thing together. - *DO NOT DO THIS! * (see further down). With the engine in place I then installed new half-shafts which were ordered for an '88-'92 model mk2 and have the correct 100mm inside flanges to bolt to the 02A transmission.
   My initial setup was with a MK2 turbo diesel airbox and a straight pipe exiting just below the firewall. Here is a boring video of a startup and some of my first test drives with the new engine installed. Note how quiet it is even with no exhaust system. -

 And finally, video footage of why to upgrade your subframe when doing an engine swap. This was intended to be an acceleration video but ended up being a breaking a motor mount video instead. It took me 2 tries before I figured out what happened, but the front motor mount had torn in half causing the engine to jump up and knock the accelerator cable off of the injector pump -

 After that little incedent, I strapped the front mount back together as a temporary measure, then set about finding an upgraded subframe set up. For the main frame I got lucky and managed to find one out of a pre-dismantled '97 Jetta at the local LKQ. A MK3 front motor mount will not fit the MK2 cross member though, and the MK3 one is totally different, so I found out on some other forums that the correct cross member for the swap is one from a B4 ('94-'97) Passat. I managed to track one of those down from a VW / Audi salvage yard up North and finally was able to get everything put back together with the correct mounts for the TDI engine. The original lower radiator mount was maintained and fits just fine with the other parts. As expected, the car is much smoother and quiter with the bigger motor mounts and the engine has made no further escape attempts.
    Despite the not unreasonable noise levels emmited from the turbo downpipe over the first 1500 or so miles of driving, I eventually decided to fit a proper exhaust system. Since I don't have a welder or a tubing bender, I opted for an off the shelf MK2 specific 2.25" kit made by Techtonics Tuning. The kit I chose has 2 straight through Magnaflow mufflers, and was easily adapted to the downpipe by means of a couple of pieces of flex pipe. There is almost no exhaust noise in the interior now and from the outside it's about as loud as a modern sporty car like a Mini S or an MX5. (not counting the clatter of course)
   Here is a rear view video taken after installing the exhaust system and some Bosio DLC520 nozzles. This was also after performing the famous "governor mod" to the pump so there is a good bit more smoke at lower RPMs. -
Even though I changed the main shaft seal on my pump prior to installation, at some point there developed a slight fuel leak which I determined to be originating from the distributor head o-ring. Since I really didn't want to remove it to replace said o-ring, I decided to attempt the job with pump in car which turned out to be not such a good idea. After replacing the ring and reinstalling the injector lines, I could not get any fuel to come out at the injectors, and obviously the engine would not start. Much to my dismay I had to take everything back apart and this time removed the pump to figure out what manner of disaster had befallen me. Here is what greeted me upon removal of the distributor head from the pump body -

And after some extraction and cleaning-

    As you can see, not only had the distributor rotor suffered a catastrophic bifurcation due to my apparent uneven tightening of the head bolts, but the new o-ring which I had just installed wasn't even seated properly so certainly a leak would have re-appeared. Lessons to be learned from this kerfuffle are as follows: 1)Replace all of your o-rings before installing a second hand pump. 2) Should you ever need a replacement 11mm head for your Landy pump, then a 2468334060 meant for an automatic transmission ALH will bolt right on and work fine!
    My next teething problem with the project came in the form of a near catastrophic oil leak while performing a routine test drive in the Western N.C. mountains. Ascending a steep twisty road (215) leading up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I simultaneously percieved both an increase in engine noise, and a decrease in rear windshield visibility. The oil pressure light flickered on around the next bend and I immediately stopped at a pull-off and shut down. With no cell phone signal where I was, and a heavy trail of oil visible in the opposite lane, I engine-off coasted 3 miles back down the mountain in probably as many minutes and then was able to call for help. (Thanks Dad!)

 A quick investigation was conducted and this, much like with my pump and motor mounts was found to be a largely self inflicted ailment. Turns out that the clamping bracket for my turbo feed line had gotten lost or at some point was not re-installed, thus allowing a vibration induced hairline crack to form at the top flange under the lock nut and causing the jettison of over 3 quarts of oil in just a few miles of driving. I removed the valve cover for inspection and found no signs of damage, then drained a half quart of very burned smelling oil from the sump, replaced the oil and filter and installed a new stainless braided oil line. I got very lucky as the engine started right up and sounded as if nothing had ever happened. I made a mental note not to take my motorcycle up HWY 215 for awhile.
   I had been planning on fitting an air to water intercooler somewhere directly between the turbo and manifold, but eventually the prospects of having additional wiring, more places for leaks to occur, and alot more weight steered me towards a conventional air to air front mount set up instead. I chose a universal 2"x28"x5" intercooler and was able to shoehorn it in directly behind the grill. A smaller size battery, and trimming to the radiator support were required and I used a combination of kit parts and oem parts for the plumbing.
 Here are some pictures of the engine bay as it was a few weeks ago -


   The intercooler did not make a hugely noticable increase in power, but the EGTs seem to be a couple of hundred degrees lower for any given performance and by touch there is a significant difference in intake temperature between the cold side and hot side boost pipes. Prolonged top gear roll-ons will still put the 1650° EGT gauge quickly off the scale for some reason, and there is a small amount of lag that wasn't there when the delete was pipe fitted.
    The custom cone filter enclosure seen in the pictures was very good for flow and cold air induction, and made less noise than just an open cone filter, but I still eventually got tired of listening to it and have since re-installed the much quieter but slightly smokier MK2 turbo airbox until I can come up with something better.
  Oddly enough, the stock suspension and brakes have proven to to be quite adequate and the only things I've done are upgrade to 14" Jetta III steel wheels with 185/60 tyres, and installed a MK2 Wolfsburg edition anti-roll bar where the car originally didn't have one at all. I also installed a strut brace which seemed to make the steering more precise.

Here it is being surprisingly competitive at a local autocross -

  And just a pic of the car -

   Real world fuel economy with the TDI is much improved over the 1.6 and mixed driving regularly excedes 50mpg while going the same speed as traffic, and it gets about 40 while being driven like a hooligan and smoking all the gassers.  700 mile tanks are not out of the question now and un-lawful cruising speeds are easily attainable. Interior noise levels with the TDI at 90mph are about what the 1.6 was at 70mph. The direct injection engine has always started on the first bump of the starter even without glow plugs, but I have since finally wired mine in just to make it a little happier when the temps are below freezing.
   I have put around 12,000 miles on the car since the swap and after getting past the initial few reliability problems, it has been extremely dependable, and doesn't even require oil top ups between changes. Basically this swap can add modern car performance and liveability to your vintage VW without sacrificing any of the simplicity and good vibes of the original design.
   Right now I think there is still plenty of untapped tuning potential to my set-up and I'm always doing a little bit of R&D work so keep an eye on this thread for future improvements. Near future mods include a PD130 intake and a K03/K04 hybrid turbo.
  Also shoot me a message if you would like to buy a decent 1.6 engine and 020 trans.!

-----EDIT 2014.04.18-----Timing Adjustment-----
I just bought a diesel pulse adapter for my timing light and made a timing adjustment. Here is a copy of my post from the Diesel Pulse Adapter Info Thread (

 My dial indicator timing setting when I first installed the pump was 1.25mm. I had only previously experimented with it in the 1.15 - 1.25 range. The engine had always pulled very strong almost right off idle, but quickly fell on it's face just past mid-range with egts always sky rocketing to an easy 1500+ with high load high rpm accelerations.
  Unfortunately I didn't think to take a dial indicator reading before messing with it again, but I think last time around I had set back to 1.25. Whatever that setting was I got a strobe light reading of only 9° BTDC when I checked it today which confirmed my growing theory that all along I had been suffering from (injection timing) retardation. Since I had been thinking about advancing my timing anyway, I decided to give this 12° thing a go that everyones been talking about.
  I cranked my pump back to a strobe reading of 12 BTDC, unstressed all the lines, then proceeded to put my dial indicator on and take a reading the old-fashion way. This gave me a result of exactly 1.40 mm which seems to be the upper range of what I had heard from a few other people and way out of the range I had ever used.
  Just getting back from a quick test drive, I am very impressed with the results. Right off the batt I do notice more turbo lag at low rpm but this is more than made up for in mid-range thrust. Power delivery is still linear but it now has more of that turbo-car kick and in a more usable rpm range to boot. Torque steer is more pronounced, it accelerates noticably faster and EGTs are noticably lower at high speeds.
 I think I will leave it at this and see how it does for awhile. When I install my bigger turbo and a taller 5th gear though, a slightly lower setting might be ideal so I will definately revisit it later.
 This experiment has made me see why people spend $$ on professionally tuned engine specific pumps. The fact that I lost bottom end power by moving the pump's max advance point closer to the sweet spot of the engine tells me that a pump with a slightly wider advance range would be a great improvement. Oddly though, from what I've seen the 300TDI engine that this pump was originally on doesn't redline very much lower than the VWs.

« Last Edit: April 09, 2014, 09:27:51 pm by smokeinmirrors »

'86 Golf - AHU m-TDI, Garrett GT2052w

Reply #1March 16, 2014, 03:53:55 pm


  • Junior

  • Offline
  • **

  • 69
Re: Golf MK2 m-TDI Swap with pics and videos
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2014, 03:53:55 pm »
Nice work. :) The trials and tribulations make for a better story anyway. The MKIIs are an awesome, reliable, platform. I put many hundreds of thousands on my 2 Jetta D's.
'91 180k Audi 80Q mTDI DD AHU, K14, LT pump,
'99 Jetta TDI 204k '02 engine, RC3+E, 11mm IP, .216, Racepipe, 2.5''SS exhaust, PD Lift pump,  Boostvalve, PanzerPlate, boost gauge, MAF delete.
'89 Audi 80Q ...waiting
'85 BMW R80

Reply #2March 18, 2014, 10:39:59 pm


  • User+

  • Offline
  • *

  • 38
Re: Golf MK2 m-TDI Swap with pics and videos
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2014, 10:39:59 pm »
  Thanks, I've sometimes pondered what I would swap this drivetrain into should I ever wad up this particular car, and I've always come back to the Golf 2 for all the same reasons I sought it out in the beginning. One click down in generations is a bit too primative for me to want to live with, and one click up just crosses too far into modernity for my tastes. Something AWD sure would be nice though . . .
  Curbside Classic just did a great article on the A2 platform for whom it may concern -
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 11:41:37 pm by smokeinmirrors »
'86 Golf - AHU m-TDI, Garrett GT2052w

Reply #3November 14, 2016, 10:32:49 am


  • Newbie

  • Offline
  • *

  • 3
Re: Golf MK2 m-TDI Swap
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2016, 10:32:49 am »
I'm looking into swapping the mTDI engine into my Mk1 Rabbit which currently has a 1.6 NA engine. Would the swap into my car be really similar to your project? I'm also considering just getting a 1.9 NA to put in it just to make the swap a lot easier.
81 Rabbit 1.6 (looking to swap)
07 Nissan Frontier
88 Mazda B2200
88 Subaru Justy

Reply #4November 18, 2016, 08:21:42 pm


  • Global Moderator
  • Veteran

  • Offline
  • *****

  • 3044
Re: Golf MK2 m-TDI Swap
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2016, 08:21:42 pm »
FWIW, it is totally safe to replace that o-ring on with the pump in the care, IF you keep pressure on the plunger while you loosen the distributor head bolts.  Unfortunately there are quite a few places that give the how-to without that safety precaution.  It usually works even without that precaution, but sometimes the little shim at the bottom of the plunger will fall out of place.  Once that happens, the pump eats itself up.  The shim usually stays in place due to the diesel fuel kind of sticking it there.  Sometimes it doesn't though with disastrous results.   
Use, abuse or ignorance of any information is at your own risk, confirmation or refutation is your own responsibility, no further 'proof' will be given, take it or leave it, YMMV,terms subject to change without notice, avoid contact with eyes or skin, contents known to cause cancer in California

Reply #5July 19, 2018, 07:54:50 am


  • Newbie

  • Offline
  • *

  • 3
Re: Golf MK2 m-TDI Swap
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 07:54:50 am »
Loved the write up. i've had my mtdi running since 13 i think and still strong. but lagging in the top speed department with the old 020 4T tranny, it also screams more than the turbo. but i was cleaver enought to keep the 02A ctn tranny that came with the engine. so the question is. do you remember hvad made the mk3 subframe not fit the mk2? because alot of posts still say i'ts a direct fit for some reason. note my car dont have power stearing or any af that stuff that just brakes anyway.


Reply #6March 18, 2020, 05:09:19 pm


  • Veteran

  • Offline
  • ***

  • 2145
Re: Golf MK2 m-TDI Swap
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2020, 05:09:19 pm »
Nice info.
 I think he was referring to the front MK3 support not fitting the MK2.
 I think the rear subframe swaps right over,..
 at least that's what I've read in several places.
Tornado red, '91 Golf 4 door,
with a re-ringed, '84 quantum, turbo diesel, MD block