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Building a Daily Driver - Part 1
I have been getting asked alot what is a good engine combo for a daily driver. This is such a loaded question and everybody has their opinion on this subject. So I am going to explain how I pick out a motor combo and why. I suggest you listen to my opinion and the opinion of others and form your own. This will have to be broken up into a few different articles to adequately explain. In this first part we need to explore what your plans are for the car.
To me, a daily driver is a car we can hop in and drive and drive out of town and go anywhere anytime. This motor is one that you build and have only the normal maintenance, like adjusting the valves, oil changes, and spark plugs. I want to be able to put this motor in and not take it out for years. I want to be able to drive it to and from work and go on any trips for any distance that I want. Reliability here is key.
Some things to consider - What kind of vw are you building this combo for? I will build a motor a little different for a bus then I will for a bug. For example when setting up the compression ratio, I will lean towards a lower ratio for a bus then I would for a bug. Why? Because you're pushing a brick through a wind tunnel with a bus and more than likely you will at some point over load the bus, because you can. So in a bus motor we need all the help we can get with heat issues. Where do you live? Do you live in the mountains where you will be pulling a lot of hills? If so, you will want more low end torque. If you live where it's mostly flat, you can get away with less power which means less money. What is the temperature in the summer and winter where you live, and is it humid? This will determine whether you need an external cooler and such.
Power - What kind of power are we looking for? This is a biggy. We all want power, but at what cost? More power can mean less reliability and reliable power is so not cheap. Also, the more power the more maintenance we have to do. We have to be realistic here. The trick here is we want a tractor motor, not a rocket type motor. So ask yourself if you're ok with the power you have now? Are you wanting a little more? Are you wanting more than a little more?
Money - Oh yeah, the wallet. How much are you willing to spend to get what you want? Horsepower can be cheap and run fast but for how long? Reliability is not cheap. Everyone talks about how much power they make, but I don’t see too many people talking about how long their motor lasts. VW motors are not cheap anymore and the quality means you better know your brands.
Our choice - Our favorite daily driver option is hands down the 2007cc engine. We think this will give you the traveling power you need, while staying reliable and not having to do any extra maintenance. A 1600 dual port/1600S is also a good option if you’re looking for a more budget friendly build that is not as powerful.
Follow along on the next few articles for some breakdowns on engine specs, and to understand why we came to this conclusion.
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