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1981 1.6d Dasher Wagon // 2001 VR6 Jetta
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just decided to sort of jump into a project. I came across a pretty clean 81 dasher that the body is in decent condition. Being in the rust belt it's not often you come across a 40 year old car with minimal rust on it so I bit. Interior is pretty decent shape as well. No holes in seats or floors just a cracked dash and signs of mice in the headliner...

My plan is to just rebuild it to a drivable condition and have fun with it. New suspension, brakes, fuel system, ect. Where the fun comes is everything under the hood was pretty well disassembled and I was handed boxes of parts some from this car and some from other various vws.

I've started attempting to get an engine and trans up and running for it. I've discovered that at some point it had been swapped to a 1.5D which was sort of a bummer. I'm rolling with it though and throwing in arp head studs, and replacing injectors, pump, gaskets, seals, bearings, starter, ect, ect.

The big area that I'm having trouble with is in the cooling system. I didn't get anything for a radiator or fan for it and I'm having trouble locating one. So I've been looking around at what my options might be there. So far I've seen that I could possibly fit an aftermarket Honda civic/del sol rad with some custom mounts. But I could definitely use some advice there of anyone has any good ideas.

But I'll try to get some pictures of my project here and start maybe a sort of mini build log.

Look forward to looking around at some inspiration on here.



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I'm not sure how different the gas vs diesel radiator setups are, but I did an aftermarket 3 core aluminum civic radiator with electric fan on my '80 gas Dasher. Fabbed 2 brackets that would mount to factory locations in the engine bay. Since the Honda radiators don't have a spot for a fan switch sensor, I have an in-line sensor on the upper hoses. Since the Honda radiator has both inlets on the back, had to use a hose with a 180-degree bend on it attached to a 90-degree bend hose on the lower side. Hope this helps.


-=Mark
'80 Dasher Wagon
'81 Rabbit Sportruck
'90 VSE JackRabbit
'11 Jetta Sportwagen SE
 

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1981 1.6d Dasher Wagon // 2001 VR6 Jetta
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not sure how different the gas vs diesel radiator setups are, but I did an aftermarket 3 core aluminum civic radiator with electric fan on my '80 gas Dasher. Fabbed 2 brackets that would mount to factory locations in the engine bay. Since the Honda radiators don't have a spot for a fan switch sensor, I have an in-line sensor on the upper hoses. Since the Honda radiator has both inlets on the back, had to use a hose with a 180-degree bend on it attached to a 90-degree bend hose on the lower side. Hope this helps.


-=Mark
'80 Dasher Wagon
'81 Rabbit Sportruck
'90 VSE JackRabbit
'11 Jetta Sportwagen SE
Awesome! That's exactly what I'm thinking. After going over dimensions found in sort of iffy websites and trying to match up pictures that looked like they were taken on an early 2000s flip phone it looked like I could make it fit. I'm not sure if the diesels are any different (or who knows what parts are/were actually on this car) but the hoses both appeared to have been coming out of the firewall side of the radiator.

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1981 1.6d Dasher Wagon // 2001 VR6 Jetta
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'll snap some pics of the hose setups for you as well.

-=Mark
'80 Dasher Wagon
'81 Rabbit Sportruck
'90 VSE JackRabbit
'11 Jetta Sportwagen SE
Thanks, Buddy that's a huge help. I'm still getting in my first wave of parts. If all goes well I'll hopefully have the engine together next week and waiting for the car to get painted. I'm not sure why I'm so determined to get this little car restored. They just sort of have that 70s/80s vw tin can charm I suppose. :poop:
 

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So the upper radiator section is 2 hoses connected to an in-line thermostat sensor. I believe I got that from Summit Racing, but possibly E-bay. This connect to the fan to turn it on when required.
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The lower section is a 90 degree hose connected to a 180 degree hose with a coupler in between. Straight hose gets a kink, and I couldn't find a long enough ribbed hose to do it all as one hose. I got these hoses off E-bay.
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1988 Scirocco 16v (Wilda); '02 Passat 1.8T wagon (The Brick); '09 Jetta Sportwagon (wifemobile);
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Nice work!
Do yourself a favor, and fabricate some air guides for that radiator. My old QSW was missing them, and it would overheat on the freeway in hot weather.
Did cardboard templates, then fabbed the final versions from corrugated plastic (the stuff that signs are made from - can get it at Office Depot, etc.) It made a HUGE difference in operating temperatures.
 

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Hey there Mark, I'm just curious. You have your radiator turned "out" at the backside. I turned mine "in" at the backside, did you feel having it this way was easier? With both of your hoses coming out the back, I'm wondering if the hose routing would have been easier the other way. I do know that your radiator is wider than mine, and there was no way I could make that one work in my situation, either turned in or out.


 

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1981 1.6d Dasher Wagon // 2001 VR6 Jetta
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I really appreciate all the pictures and great info. I've been thinking about welding up basically an air duct similar to the oem fiber ones out of aluminum or sheet steel with some mild reinforcing but having those plates would allow me to use the pins on the top and bottom to mount the rad with some rubber radiator mounts. I doubt there's anything wrong with just using those holes in the back but I thought maybe kill 2 birds with one over complicated stone? Once I get the engine together and sitting in the car I can hopefully start seeing some vision. lol

Also, I apologize for being slow to respond on my own thread. I've been absolutely slammed at work lately. :sleep:
 

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1981 1.6d Dasher Wagon // 2001 VR6 Jetta
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So finally a few updates. I've been slammed with work and trying to get this car together with every ounce of free time I have left.

I got the engine rebuilt. Bottom end with fresh oil pump, rings, and bearings. I also ended up getting a different head and having the valves done and put all new seals through it. The one that I had was cracked pretty substantially between all valves. Which I've read is pretty common but since I was going through all the work I didnt want to mess with taking a chance on it.
(Wish I had documented a bit more of the work but just didn't really end up doing it due to time restraints.

I also ended up just getting most things that bolt to the engine new or reman: rebuilt pump, water pump, starter, alternator, timing belt tensioner, ect ect.

Turned some hard bushings out of oil impregnated nylon on the lathe for the shifter. I'm not sure if that's good or bad but so far shifting feels pretty tight.(I did finally get to run the car up the drive a couple times slowly... brakes aren't really a thing yet )

So, I finally got it in the car and have been chipping away at tuning and attempting to figure out wiring and how all the belts run and it's been a fun time. Lol

Ended up throwing the Honda radiator in it so far. Nothing permanently mounted yet. I'm trying to decide which way to face it still but that's sort of my next project when I get a few hours to work on it.



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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Had to go take a screen cap of a video I didn't realize I hadn't taken just a photo of the engine in the car.


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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Fast progress. Keep it up.
Thanks buddy!

I'm really pushing to get this thing going. I'm planning on parking it through the winter but I want to have a chance to take it down the road still this year. I just think these little diesels are such cool engines. I cant wait to get it road worthy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Now for another long overdue update. I took her out on her maiden voyage finally after she's been sitting for who knows how long. She's doing amazing. (Which is good because I decided to throw the family In the car with me for a mini-vacation.) I was pretty confident since I've been through the whole engine, brake system, wiring and essentially everything else on the car.

I have just a few things to button up engine side. (obviously minor details)

It's such a fun little car to drive. Absolutely gutless but that's part of the fun of it.

I'll get some more pictures when we make it home. (Fingers crossed )


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You've heard the saying, it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

I don't completely agree with that statement, all the time, as I have enjoyed both, but driving a slow car can certainly be fun. I will tell you this, your car is capable of giving much more enjoyment than most would assume.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well! Good News! The old dasher is running great despite a few little things I need to figure out and finish up mainly some minor wiring for things like the horn, washer fluid spray thingy? lol and a few other things. It got us home and around on our trip perfectly. I did have to play with fuel a bit to not blind the cars behind me pulling up hills but I think I found a pretty good medium between power and smog.

B1-16V That's exactly what this is. I'm addicted to driving the little car. It's not fast by any meaning of the word but just a blast to zip around in.

I also got around to getting some photos. It's still under construction and needing some small body work and after some consideration and talking with the guy I bought the car from I think I'm going to attempt to salvage the paint and just do some touch-up on it since it is still original Alpine White paint and in fairly decent condition especially being in Ohio.

This has just been such a fun little project. I've only ever owned a few older VR6 Jettas and never even touched a VW diesel. So I was sort of jumping into this blind(with a Bentley manual:geek:). Can't wait to finish this up and maybe get into another vw project.

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