2.2 & 2.5L CONVERSIONS

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ABOUT THE ENGINES

These Subaru engines are very impressive. They are state of the art with 5 main bearings, 4 valves per cylinder and two overhead cams. They feature an engine management computer capable of learning as you drive with input from crank and cam position sensors, knock sensors, oxygen sensors and it controls the spark, fuel injectors, and timing. It has no distributor, cap, or rotor. The outstanding reliability of these engines is evident by their popularity in light aircraft.

The 2.5L Subaru engine makes 165-175hp and is perhaps the perfect Vanagon engine. It has great torque throughout the rpm range and keeps up with traffic easily, even in the heavier Westfalia and Syncro and runs extremely well behind both the manual and the automatic transmissions. Fuel mileage has proven to be better than with the stock engine, even with the additional power, and all run beautifully on regular gas. We can use most of the 2.5L motors up to the 2012 Subaru models. The 2010-2012 is a particularly torquey motor and is possibly the perfect engine for the heavier Syncros.

As a horizontally opposed four, the Subaru motor fits like it was meant to be there and all the original Vanagon options can remain functional; cruise control, air conditioning as well as the Syncro skid plate. All of our conversions include an extensive list of parts that we have developed to make the conversion fit and function better than the original engine. A few years ago, no one would have imagined the number of parts we would eventually develop to make these motors a perfect match for the Vanagon. Here is a partial list:
Cast aluminum bellhousing, 4 different cast aluminum oil pans, 5 engine mounts, 5 stainless headers, stainless exhaust system, flexible dipstick, brake upgrades and numerous cooling system and other parts.
There are a number of cheaper conversions for the Vanagon, but there isn't one that compares with the fit and function of the Subaru engine using SmallCar parts...... it's a perfect fit!

See our completed Vanagons page for more photos, and our FAQ for answers to common questions.

QUESTIONS ENCOURAGED

If you have any questions about a Subaru conversion, don't hesitate to contact our conversion expert, Brian, at 253-473-2474 or by using our conversion contact form.

Available Engines

 

ENGINES AVAILABLE: April 13th, 2017


  • 2011 2.5L with 21K miles - $7275
  • 2012 2.5L with 30K miles - $6875
  • 2012 2.5L with 39K miles - $6475
  • 2012 2.5L with 40K miles - $6375
  • 2012 2.5L with 55K miles - $5875
  • 2006 2.5L Rebuilt - 0 miles! - $6595
  • 1998 2.2L Phase 2 SOHC - 145HP w/115K miles - $2,975

 

OBD1 special: Completely rebuilt high torque 2.5L engine with 160 hp and 155 lb/ft of torque. Recommended for California and built to order - $6,895.

All engines above have a one year warranty on all internal parts.

 

2.5 Before and After

CONVERSION PRICING & INSTALLATION

The cost to install a Subaru four cylinder non-turbo into a Vanagon 2wd or Syncro is $7990 plus the cost of the motor. There are no hidden costs, just a few options shown as optional items below.


INSTALLATION INCLUDES:
  1. All installation labor
  2. Stainless steel header (California conversions get a steel header and muffler and cat are included)
  3. SmallCar aluminum oil pan for stock ground clearance and extra oil capacity
  4. Powder coated engine mount with heavy duty stainless muffler supports and clamps
  5. SmallCar designed bellhousing for manual Vanagons and Syncro, adaptor kit for automatics
  6. Dipstick located behind license plate door
  7. New engine matched clutch, pressure plate and release bearing for manual Vans
  8. For automatics, external transmission cooler included
  9. New radiator
  10. Modified Subaru ECU harness with the computer mounted under the rear seat
  11. Power steering (when the Van is so equipped)
  12. All engine cooling system parts and modifications
  13. New rubber engine mounts
  14. Intake and air filter system
  15. Engine fluids

WE ALSO REPLACE THE FOLLOWING VANAGON PARTS WITH SUBARU PARTS:
  1. Flywheel for M/T Vanagons. Flexplate for automatics.
  2. P/S Pump
  3. Alternator
  4. AC Compressor
  5. All Vent Hoses
  6. Engine Harness
  7. Starter for M/T Vanagons
  8. Engine to ECU wiring harness
  9. ECU engine management computer
  10. Power supply relay
  11. Fuel Pump Relay
  12. Throttle control relay
  13. Oxygen sensor/air flow relay
  14. Oxygen sensors (2)
  15. Air Intake
  16. Mass Air Meter (MAF)
  17. Air Cleaner Box
  18. Accelerator pedal (accelerator position sensor)
Optional Upgrades

OPTIONAL UPGRADES

  1. Complete stainless exhaust system - $695
  2. Air Conditioned cars - $595
    Note: This cost is based on a Van with properly functioning A/C.
  3. Dash A/C now available! $3995
  4. Cruise control (if already equipped and operating) - $230
  5. Syncro skid plate modification - $204
  6. ScanGauge driving computer installed $200
  7. 7,000 RPM tachometer face w/recalibration $185
  8. White gauge face set with 7,000 rpm tachometer - $277
  9. Wheel and tire upgrades
  10. 11" vented front brakes
  11. 10.4" rear disc brakes
  12. Auxillary battery system
  13. OME or Bilstein HD shocks
  14. HD springs
  15. Transmission repairs or 4th gear changes
  16. Limited slip differential for manuals, automatics & Syncros
  17. NEW! Taller R&P for automatic Vanagons! Quieter running & better mileage
  18. Bluetooth receiver with optional under seat sub-woofer
  19. LED headlights or South African grille with round lights
  20. Propex heaters for camping
  21. Keyless remote & power door locks
  22. ARB Awnings and accessories
  23. Truck Fridge replacement refrigerator for Westfalias
  24. Solar Panel support
Customer Comments

CUSTOMER COMMENTS

"The van is running great. I put it into 4th leaving Tacoma, and never geared down until the border. There is a hill on the main road of our island that the other Syncro Westy on island with a Waterboxer performance 2.5L can almost make in 4th. This van sails up the hill in 4th gear. I'm very pleased and barring the unforeseen I'll be back next fall or winter for the brake up-grade and the drive shaft with the de-coupler. I'll do my best to send more vans your way."

- Don

Update: May 10th, 2011 - The owner with the G..Westy 2.5L blew the engine and now has a Small Car 2.5L Subaru installed. Look out Don!


AFTER 200,000 MILES

"I wanted to give you a progress report on my Vanagon to Subaru conversion that you did just before Christmas 2001.

First, as you know I have always kept close track of my '87 Vanagon's gas mileage. For the entire six months before your conversion I averaged 17.5 miles to the gallon with the 2.1 VW engine. I now have 100,000 miles on the 2.5 Subaru engine you put in and I am happy to report I am averaging over 20 miles to the gallon! And that is with 50-50 city/highway driving. I am sure I will do even better this summer when I take my cross country trip.

The engine is running beautifully, and it is so quiet at idle that I sometimes have to look at the tach to make sure it is still running when I am at a stop light. The extra power is the added bonus that is hard to believe. I remember that I use to have to downshift to get up most of the hills in my neighborhood. Even in cruise control on the highway the engine would lug and I would have to downshift up the steeper grades. Now if I set it at 65 it stays there with no sign of slowing down.

I guess the greatest statement I can make is that I have grown so accustomed to my new Vanaroo that I hardly notice that the change was done. Except for less noise, improved gas mileage, and the acceleration, one wouldn't notice at all.

Thank you for being so helpful with the conversion. You were always there to answer questions and to make things right if I had any concerns. I will gladly answer any questions anyone might have about the conversion you did for me. I really think your onto something big, and I am proud to be the first 2.5L Vanaroo in Western Washington.

- Dave

Update: September 2015 - Dave stopped by to check out our new shop and let us know that his 2.5 now has 220,000 miles since the conversion and is still running strong with no signs of slowing down anytime soon!

PAYMENT TERMS

Before arrival of your Vanagon we generally get a deposit of approximately the engine cost to acquire and prepare the Subaru engine. Upon delivery of your Vanagon for the installation work, a 50% deposit is required with the balance due upon completion of the work. There is a $15.00 per day storage fee after 5 days unless prior arrangements are made.

WARRANTY

For all new parts, we have a one year warranty. Used engines have a one year warranty on internal parts and 90 days on externals. Extended warranties may available on some parts manufactured by us. If the vehicle cannot be returned to us for warranty service, repairs at another location should be authorized with us before the repairs are completed. Diagnosis is covered only when performed in our shop.