Test Mule: The GoWesty R&D Vehicle

The following write-up is some background info on one of our favorite company test vehicles. When it comes to testing prototype engines and new parts / accessories, our Syncro likes it rough. If you thought these things were just wannabe all-wheel-drive 4x4s, think again. A properly outfitted Syncro can go just about anywhere it damn well pleases.

This is GoWesty's 1987 VW Vanagon Westfalia Wolfsburg Weekender Syncro. It is fitted with posi/locking differentials both front and rear, and with a driveshaft decoupler. The viscous coupler has been replaced with a solid shaft. So, when all three knobs on the dash are in, it's just a regular ol' 2WD Vanagon. But when all three knobs are pulled out, and all three green lights come on, she's 100% fully locked up: REAL 4WD. Any one wheel can completely leave the ground without affecting the torque delivery to the other wheels.

The engine is a GoWesty 2.7 liter (coming soon), 10:1 compression-ratio waterboxer. The crankshaft is made specifically for this engine out of a solid chunk of steel billet, closely copying the original German crankshaft design, but counter-weighted and with the stroke increased 8.5mm to 84.5mm. Pistons are a GoWesty exclusive: forged JE pistons with a diameter of 100.75mm, which is 6.75mm larger than the original cast 94mm pistons. This engine uses the custom-made cylinders that are larger on the outside by about 4mm. This may seem trivial, but in fact is one of the trickiest things about building a waterboxer with a bore this large. The engine cases and heads require special machining to accommodate the larger outside diameter of the cylinder, which we do in a CNC machine. The exact resulting displacement is 2,693.2cc—I think we'll stop there!

The extremely high-compression ratio of 10:1 and increased displacement required the addition of a knock sensor (to protect the engine) and a freer-flowing exhaust. So we rolled up our sleeves and designed a completely new engine management system for this engine and an all-new stainless steel exhaust system with freer-flowing muffler and catalytic converter. Both of these systems are adaptable to all waterboxer engines—a good example of "trickle down" engineering at work!

After rigorous road testing and dynamometer testing, it has proven to be a solid design. We will begin to offer the 2.7 and all-new engine management system worldwide beginning in 2015.

The wheel, tire, and suspension package is a GoWesty standard offering. The wheels are 7.5" x 16" with an ET of 38. It's the same wheel we use on the EVC. The tire is a BFG 16" AT KO. The larger diameter tires eat up some of the low gearing needed for extreme off-roading. To compensate, the front and rear ring and pinion ratios were changed from 4.86:1 to 6.17:1, a change which represents a LOWER gearing of 27%, which more than offsets the increased tire size. To get the overall gearing back in line, three of the five speeds in the transmission were also changed. Low ("granny") gear and first gear were left alone:

6.03:1—Granny and reverse—no change
3.78:1—First—no change
1.88:1—Second gear, instead of 2.06 (8.7% HIGHER) 
1.14:1—Third gear, instead of 1.23 (7.3% HIGHER) 
0.70:1—Fourth gear, instead of 0.85 (17.6% HIGHER) 

All this in a rebuilt GoWesty transaxle and rebuilt front differential, with as much of the cast magnesium parts switched to stronger aluminum as possible—and rear axles swapped out for much stronger Porsche 930 Turbo-sized axles and CV joints.

You can bet we'll keep beating on this van and see what breaks—and fix it, better than new! It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

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