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AUTObiography- Beetsport’s Vanagon Synfalia 1.8T

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Next up is VWvortex reader: Beetsport

How long have you owned this car? I’ve owned this Syncro for about 5 years now. Not long enough.

Is there anything unique about the history of this car? Unique, besides not many made that were campers and 4X4. I bought this Syncro from a guy in Berkley CA. who put over 28K miles on it the only year he owned it. He toured the US then moved to Sweden. He bought it from the original owner out of Berkley CA. Besides the “28K mile road trip” it’s lived here on the West Coast.

What was your objective with this car? Functionality. To make this Syncro a blast to drive on and off road with its power plant and at the same time keep its function of being a full camper. (A fast camper !)

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What tuning style would you describe this car? Euro Off Road Racer with Kitchen Sink and a little Bling Bling…

Who helped you build this car? Most of the work I did myself at the shop. Some help was needed along the way. The wiring for the engine and van was made by “Motorlager”. Exhaust system was made to my specs by Muffler Tech. Transmission was gone through and 4th gear changed by Elk Grove Gear here in our area. Some custom welding was needed to make the engine brackets for the 1.8T conversion. Paint was done at a local paint and body shop well known for their awesome paint work.

What makes your car special? The 1.8T engine conversion. With over 130 more horsepower than stock (which is 90HP) and about 250 lb-ft of torque this heavy machine moves out very nicely now with better fuel economy.

What is your favorite part/feature/function?The looks people give when driving it ;- ) I’ve has some people stop in their tracks and just stare at it. Also the “pack what you need for the weekend and go anywhere” feature.

Who or what inspired the direction of modifications on this car? Myself. It’s a great vehicle from the factory but greatly underpowered stock, and it got lousy fuel mileage. I wanted reliable power and fuel economy at the same time.

What don’t you like about this car? What kind of question it this?..

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What would you change if you could? The low overhanging front end. Limits some off-roading, or I have to rethink angles.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with the outcome of this project?I’m always finding things to do/build on the Syncro. The 1.8T conversion a 10.

What would you do to the car if money were no object? Porsche 930 Axles Front and Rear. Transmission Decoupler. Front Locking Differential. (Has rear original equipment already) Front A/C unit. 3-Window Canvas Pop Top. Large Flat Screen with DVD Player and Surround Sound.

Who has been your biggest critic of this project? No one yet.

What do your family and friends say about this car? Friends love it, family thinks I’m a little crazy.

What is your favorite place to drive this car? To the lake pulling our jet-skis for a weekend get-a-way. Syncro de Mayo West. Mount Shasta area. Snow Country Northern CA. Moab Utah. Goes anywhere..

What is your ideal day with this car?When I’m driving it.

Who gets to drive this car? Mostly me. “Motorlager” will drive it at times for testing. Some test drives are given to choice customers wanting more power like I did.

If your car had a motto, what would it be? A Beauty and a Beast… OR It’s a “Sleeper”…

If you had to name your car, what would you name it? Its name is “Synfalia”.

What was your previous project? ’78 Audi Fox GTI, ’87 Vanagon Westfalia (full restore)

What is your next project? Would love a Doka 1.8T project.

What one word best describes your car? Way Cool, opps….Waycool!

Owner Information

Name- Stephan White

Address- Sacramento, CA.

Occupation- Automotive

VWvortex USer Name- Beetsport

Vehicle Information

Year- October 1990 (they call it a 1990)

Make- Volkswagen

Model- Vanagon Westfalia Syncro

Mileage- 155K

Original Color- Orly Blue

Current Color- Repainted Orly Blue

Engine- 2003 GTI 1.8T AWP! Engine came out of a 20th Anniversary GTI with 35K miles on it which had a bad driver behind the wheel!

Engine Modifications- The only modification on this engine is the APR Chip Programming and intercooler cooling so far… Intercooler is factory GTI for now with modified inlet scoops on both Innercooler and Intake sides.Intercooler blower fan added with special duct work to help force air through the cooler.

Exhaust Modifications- Stainless steel exhaust system. 2.5” down pipe by Autotech into the original GTI catalytic converter with 2.5” inlet and outlet to match system (for CA smog..) Magnaflow stainless steel muffler. Sounds and looks great! Thanks Muffler Tech!

Transmission Modifications- Transmission gone through and 4th gear changed to a 0.77:1. Great for freeway cruising and fuel economy. Now gets around 21+ on freeway ;- ) Locking Rear Differential. (Original equipment VW) Heavy duty Sachs Clutch System used.

Suspension Modifications- Suspension lifted 2”. Old Man Emu Australia Nitro Charged Shocks/Struts installed. All Front Suspension Rubber Replaced and Ball Joints.

Brake Modifications- Eurospec front brake kit.

Wheels and Tires- South African 15” Wheels with 215/75R15 BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO’s mounted on them. (including spare)

Exterior/Body Modifications- Nothing to change. Already made perfect.. Well ok, South African grille and high output headlights. 80-watt low beams and 100-watt high. All window rubber was replaced and pop-top seal. (Not really a mod.) Sky light was changed to a blue unit with new seal. Front brake calipers painted blue. All labels were replaced on the exterior. Smoked front turn signal lenses. Rear fog light. VW New Beetle white and blue VW emblem on grille. VW New Beetle chrome emblem on deck lid. 10’X10’ Trans AWN 2000 awning (great summer addition). Itnercooler and intake inlet scoop added to help with power output. Tinted windows. Go Westy receiver trailer hitch.

Interior Modifications- Third row seating added next to fridge. Third row seat is easily removable. Recaro front seats. Yeah!Interior ladder added to upper bunk bed. Thanks Chris! Fridge modified for better cooling. Better fans added to heating fins and special tin made to direct heat away from fins. Auxiliary deep cycle marine battery added to run all accessories while engine is off. Power Inverter added and wired into original 110 AC power outlets. Center console with 12 DC outlets.

Audio/Video/I.C.E.- Kenwood KDC X659 deck with remote. JBL Speakers with 12 Sub mounted under back seat. MP3 system, Satellite System XM. Laptop DVD player system used for movies when camping and routed to Kenwood through FM transmitter.

Thanks/Props- VW Vortex for this wonderful community, Stephan’s Auto Haus Team, Muffler Tech Sacramento, Sacramento Collision and Paint. “Motorlager” for all sleepless nights spent dreaming up ideas for this great vehicle and its wonderful engine conversion. Werner for trusting me on his 1.8T conversion. Brian for all the custom welding. Ron @ Elk Grove Gear for a transmission working great. Go Westy for their continued support in keeping these great vans on the road. My partner for putting up with this Synfalia obsession.



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