Proper usage of an S2000 CR


It’s been a long day. I didn’t get off work until 9:45 and I got up at 7:30 to drive to Leander, TX. The guys got together to work on the Ghia for the first time since the race. We’ve all be mighty busy. I didn’t even clean up the garage like I said I would. I missed out though because I was on the way to pick up a type 4 motor. By the time I got back they were gone.

Maybe I’d better start at the beginning. During the last race, we were a little slower than the other cars. We did pass a few cars on Sunday when we had 4 cylinders (thanks to all you guys that broke down, you made our day 🙂 ). However we estimated (no speedo, we were worried it would scare the drivers) our top speed at 60-70 MPH and our buddies reported they were running 105-110 on the back straight. As you can imagine, a 40 MPH difference made us a bit nervous and we spent a lot of time looking in the mirror during the race. We only got tapped once so our “Mustang catcher” didn’t get tested.

At the end of the race we sent the email to judges and they told us “It’s a Karmann Ghia. How could it be worth more than $75 after a LeMons race?” So that means we have $425 budget to fix all the problems. So we made lists of what to fix. I won’t bore you with the whole list but the shocks that leaked sea water on race day were on the top. So adding power was down in the middle. We had seen the VW Fastback (the grey Armadillo) with the type 4 motor. They were actually keeping up with the rest of the cars. I didn’t see them much when I was driving because they got KO’ed in the rear right in front of the stands and it pushed the motor into the transmission and split the bell housing.

We have 3 guys on the team that are motor-heads. Doug and I just do what we’re told when we were rebuilding the old motor. So this whole process has been a real education for me. I knew that old VW Beetles have air-cooled motors and the first car I ever drove was a Chevy Corvair. But that was about the extent of my knowledge. So I took it upon myself to research all this motor stuff. It turns out that Beetles and Karmann Ghia have Type 1 motors which in the later versions were as large as 1600cc. VW Bus and the Porsche 914 had type 4 motors. I’m not sure what happened to 2 and 3. Type 4 motors were 1679cc or 1980cc, they have aluminum cases instead of magnesium and they are reportedly a lot sturdier, and have a lot more power. I still haven’t figured out how much, just more, and I do understand enough to know that we needed more. We need a working fuel pump and shocks more, but I knew we needed power.

So being the most ignorant has a certain advantage, it turns out. The other guys knew that we just needed to work on the current engine, like fix the pulley, actually tune it, and maybe find a way to upgrade the carburetor. But I decide to scan Craig’s list for the next 4 weeks. And lo and behold, I find a Porsche 914 being parted out. That’s all it says in the ad. So I call and it turns out this youngster is living with his grandmother north of Austin and was given the Porsche if he would get it out of the field. Some GI had gone overseas and not come back. It got towed to some field where it sat for several years (It had a 2000 license sticker). I’m not sure how he got it out of the field over to his grandmothers house, but it was settled down on the floor against the garage wall. Brandon said he was thinking he could build a sand rail out of it (whatever that is). So he removed the engine, transmission, and the whole rear suspension out , but then he discovered that building a vehicle would require money. So he and his friends decided that they should try that monster truck thing out. Unfortunately, the truck wasn’t quite tall enough to drive over the remains of the car, it just shoved it around. So now he had an engine in the driveway and needed to get rid of it.

This is where I come in. Somehow I have become some kind of collector of old VW parts. Brandon has an offer for $250 already so it sounds like this isn’t going to pan out. The next day Brandon calls back and said the deal fell through and he still needs to get this engine out of the driveway. So we agree on $200 after he sends me a few photos as long as I can come get it the next day.

The  S2000 CR is not quite as easy as a regular S2000 to live with. It has very stiff springs, which are great on track, but not comfortable on long trips. And it is even louder. Since it is the only vehicle I have, I attached the tire trailer and head up towards Austin. So my S2000 CR was now serving duty as a utility vehicle.

Brandon and his friends helped me get it on the trailer. With use of the car jack of us got the whole mess into the tire trailer but it took an hour of struggling. With the engine, transmission, suspension, mufflers, heater tubes, brakes, and what not still attached it hung over on 3 edges. Thank goodness Brandon has some good friends. It turns out that the Type 1 spare motor that my brother and I picked up only weighs 215 pounds. So I didn’t think this would be that bad. It turns out that the Type 4 engine alone weighs 311 pounds. I was so tired, my hands were shaking so bad I had trouble writing the receipt.

Brandon’s grandmother pointed out that there was a box of parts on the shelf. They weren’t all from the car, but we found several prizes including a fuel pump. Thank goodness for grandmothers. The motor-heads had told me that we needed the fuel pump because the type 4 was fuel injected. So I paid some extra for various parts including the pump, some kind of fan that was in the engine compartment, some instruments that looked almost new, and various electronic things. Brandon and I cut the relay box and what should be the engine “computer”. (I suspect the computer is not really a computer but I’m guessing that it actually a discrete logic device. That will give you an idea how old these vehicles are). Don’t tell the other guys but I forgot to get the shift linkage. I looked and it might have been inside that tunnel, but they had cut into the tunnel, and I don’t remember seeing it. There were some other cables though, so if a 914 uses cables, maybe that was them. Oh well.

After I told the guys I had found this engine, we did some quick searches. The type 4 motor is apparently easier to install, and a more common engine swap than we realized. If I had found a Bus Type 4 motor, then apparently we would have something that looked more like our original setup, with the motor in the back and the transmission under the rear seats. But since I had stumbled across a 914 Type 4 motor, then we have a mid-engine setup with the transmission in the rear. It appears that Ghia’s have been converted to mid-engine or the motor alone can be bolted to the original transmission.

The team probably won’t have time to install this Type 4 into the Ghia in time for the Feburary race, but stay tuned.



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