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Old 12-06-2012, 10:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Swapping a TDI engine into a 1st gen Insight

I've decided to swap a 1.9 liter VW TDI engine into a Honda Insight.

This project is just getting started since I only have the donor vehicle right now (98 Beetle TDI).

To my knowledge, the TDI swap has only been attempted once before and it was with a 1.2 liter Lupo engine that can't easily be found where I live (America). I'll be using the venerable "ALH" engine which is found in the US Spec Golf, Jetta, and New Beetle from the 98-03 time frame.

I'm currently looking for a 1st gen Insight with a bad battery/IMA/engine that can be used for this swap.

I've started a blog to update as the project moves along. Keep in mind this won't be a quick swap. I'm pretty busy but also pretty anal so progress will be slow. I'll post here with updates as they occur!

In the meantime, feel free to check out my blog:

www.hondatdi.com

Thanks!


Last edited by gtmotor; 12-08-2012 at 09:41 PM..
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtmotor View Post
To my knowledge, the TDI swap has only been attempted once before and it was with a 1.2 liter Lupo engine that can't easily be found where I live (America). I'll be using the venerable "ALH" engine which is found in the US Spec Golf, Jetta, and New Beetle from the 98-03 time frame.
The purpose of the 1.2 TDI was to "fit" more easily in the car and of coarse fit within the normal weight limits.

You can order stuff from overseas moderately easy these days, you just have to have bank $5k-$12k to make it happen.
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by rmay635703 View Post
The purpose of the 1.2 TDI was to "fit" more easily in the car and of coarse fit within the normal weight limits.

You can order stuff from overseas moderately easy these days, you just have to have bank $5k-$12k to make it happen.
I think that if you have a donor vehicle that is running properly and you are familiar with tools and DIY attitude you don't have to spend lots of money to make it happen. Of course I've removed buying Insight from the equation ;-) I'm talking of labor and parts. I was swapping many engines in my life, mostly in VAG cars, that's not so complicated as it looks like. And the most important thing is to have a whole donor car, because it has most of the parts that you have to use to finish your project. Of course you have to fabricate few things on your own, but anyway I like the idea and I'll keep my fingers crossed for TDInsight
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I look forward to this build.
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Old 12-07-2012, 04:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A TDI would fit easier into a CRX. In my state such a swap in to a 1996 or newer car would not pass the OBD II emissions test, thus could no be licensed.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmay635703 View Post
The purpose of the 1.2 TDI was to "fit" more easily in the car and of coarse fit within the normal weight limits.

You can order stuff from overseas moderately easy these days, you just have to have bank $5k-$12k to make it happen.
Right, and it was a good idea. I decided to do this swap because the ALH is much cheaper than $5-12k and can readily be found in junkyards across the nation. I picked up a 98 Beetle TDI I've been daily driving for $2k on Craigslist

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrzejM View Post
I think that if you have a donor vehicle that is running properly and you are familiar with tools and DIY attitude you don't have to spend lots of money to make it happen. Of course I've removed buying Insight from the equation ;-) I'm talking of labor and parts. I was swapping many engines in my life, mostly in VAG cars, that's not so complicated as it looks like. And the most important thing is to have a whole donor car, because it has most of the parts that you have to use to finish your project. Of course you have to fabricate few things on your own, but anyway I like the idea and I'll keep my fingers crossed for TDInsight
Yep, I have a complete running vehicle I've driven for about 1000 miles now. I've been calling it the Honda TDI (www.hondatdi.com)

I'm an engineer with one of my best friends helping me do the fabrication. I am confident we can make it work... it may just take awhile since we're both really busy.

Thanks for the support!

Last edited by gtmotor; 12-08-2012 at 09:41 PM..
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by nbleak21 View Post
I look forward to this build.
Thanks! Me too

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Originally Posted by arcosine View Post
A TDI would fit easier into a CRX. In my state such a swap in to a 1996 or newer car would not pass the OBD II emissions test, thus could no be licensed.
Yes our original goal was to put the engine into an EG Civic hatchback. But then I decided to just go for it and go to the lighter weight, more aerodynamic Insight. There are ways around the emissions testing in just about every state. In my state (Arizona) I can register the car as a "modified" vehicle, put collectors insurance on it, and then it's exempt from emissions. I have my Lotus Exige registered this way because the OBDII readers at the emissions place can't talk to my European ECU

I'm obviously not condoning skipping out on emissions regulations (especially on a forum like this!!) but there are times when they simply don't make sense. I plan to have all emissions equipment functioning as intended on the Honda TDI. We plan to have the OBD II working so we can use a VAG-com on the car as well...
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ever wonder how fast a 98 Beetle TDI is bone stock?

Turns out it's not as fast as it feels... watch the video on my site below for some numbers.

Beetle Performance Testing The Honda TDI Project

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Old 12-09-2012, 11:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Wow, I would not have expected it to be THAT slow! What is the weight difference between the Insight and beetle? I expect not much?
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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According to both manufacturers... the Beetle is exactly 900 pounds heavier than the Insight

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