Stories form the Salt: V10 TDI with a Hat

As you May have heard, VW set a very specific record with the brand new Jetta that meant it went over 210 mph. Kindly, VW offered to fly us out for the record attempt and while we were there we talked to some of the VW owners who were around for the racing—normally that’s the part where we arbitrarily say that these are the coolest cars at X, Y, or Z, but forget everything and everyone at Bonneville is the coolest.

Most of these conversations happened while teams were in line, waiting for their turn to run the salts

Who? Douglas Adler and brother Davidson Adler.

VWV: What’s powering this thing?

Douglas: It’s a V10 from a Touareg that we repackaged into this bullet shape. We started off with molds from the Flatfire car, which is the world’s fastest flathead-powered car. And they’ve run a bazillion engines, so they had a lot of run data from that car and so we did our math and came up with the solution of a Volkswagen diesel. The appeal was the torque figures. The power and the torque from a turnkey motor. That was already boosted, so we knew it was already fine to oil spray and things like that.

Basically, I like to think of the body as a big hat, because all we did was just repackage the Touareg into a bullet shape. With our power calculations, we estimated that we could go between 202 and 205 mph. It fell off the trailer and on its maiden voyage went 204 mph three times in a row. Earned me my red hat, which was our ultimate goal and we did it our first time out.

VWV: So what have you done since?

Douglas: So then we did some more math trying to figure out what kind of power would it maybe be possible to get our motor. And then we went on an international search in search of tuners that could tune this motor of which there are very few. We ended up going to Kerma TDI, in Ventura, California, which ended up being local and domestic.

Once we got them on board and they understood what we were trying to go for—low rpm, very high torque—we were able to proceed from there. We did go with larger turbos and then we were able to start climbing the ladder, pushing it up. Speed Week, we made seven runs all of them exceeding the current record, which we also have. We’re always trying to set that record as low as possible. You can only climb up the ladder one time. But at the same time we want to know what kind of performance we have, what the maximum output is.

It’s funny, at the last meet they said “so you’re taking that car to impound?’ We laid 50 miles on the current record. And they were like ‘no, they’re taking it back to the pits.’ And they would speculate that something broke or something else. Well no, once you put the car into impound you can’t drive it anymore. And so you’re done for the day and we wanted to get more. So we were just running, running, running. Having a great time. So that’s what we’re trying to do this week, we’re going to try to get it up to 300 mph.

We were accelerating out the back door before at 277 mph and we finally have been able to get our exhaust gas temperature under control. That was a big issue for us before. The engine was on the verge of melting down. And now it’s very happy. So it’s funny, we’re going faster and the engine is considerably happier.

We’re running a small Scirocco radiator (drag racing radiator).

VWV: Is that nitrous on the back?

Douglas: Yes, we’ve got two stages of nitrous that we can hit, depending on what the EGTs do. But we ran one bottle at Speed Week, now we’re running two bottles. It’s kind of going back to the old school thinking of how much nitro do you want to tip. What percentage of nitro do you want to put in your car? So now we’re doing the same thing, but using nitrous. Chemically, nitrous is very advantageous for diesel. So following monster trucks and pullers, we’re just trying to do the exact same thing. It’s a diesel powered running on pump 2 diesel gas. It’s one of the few cars that’s in sanctioned motor racing that we could run a biofuel. We’re actually seeking biofuel sponsors right now. Usually the cetane rates are higher with bio, and that would help exhaust gas temperatures again and bring more power on earlier. That seems exciting to run.

VWV: What else have you done to the engine?

Douglas: A lot of electronic tuning, but the motor came out of a salvaged Touareg. I’ve been told it was a press vehicle that had been t-boned and so that was perfect for our drivetrain. Lifted that, repackaged all of that stuffed and we’ve just been having a blast with the car.

We’re already building a second car with a couple of innovations, mostly aerodynamics now that we’ve got a handle on the power. We’d like to have a diesel powered car to exceed 400 mph and then 500 mph.

VWV: Ha, good luck.

Douglas: Thanks.