When Matt purchased his 1964 VW Kombi it came with a factory 1,493 cc (91ci), air-cooled, carbureted flat-four engine. The power output from the engine was around 38 kW which translated to approximately 26kW at the wheels.
The single carby engine was not renowned for its responsiveness or reliability so the first thing on Matt’s list of improvements was an engine upgrade. The new 1776cc engine features dual port heads and an EFI conversion with twin throttle bodies.
Matt’s done away with the distributor and mounted the crank sensor directly on the crankshaft. A simpler and far more accurate setup than the distributor.
With the distributor gone Matt added individual coils for each cylinder. Because the coils are only referencing off the crank sensor they are set up for direct fire with wasted spark ignition.
Being an air-cooled engine there is no need for a coolant temperature sensor so Matt is using air and oil temperature as his main sensors.
Matt is the first to admit the engine management system he has in his Kombi is “a bit of an overkill” as it was used for R&D purposes and may have a Drive By Wire (DBW) installed at a later stage. A top of the range Elite 2500 has been used, but an entry level ECU like the Elite 550 would have been more than enough for this application.
A Dual Wideband O2 Controller allows Matt to trim the fuel individually in each bank of the engine. A knock sensor adds another level of protection with the ECU adjusting ignition timing upon knock detection.
The main engine protection trigger is referenced from an oil pressure sensor.
Another “overkill” feature on Matt’s setup is a set of Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) sensors. Again, while there’s no denying the merits of being able to read your EGT data, it’s not something that you would normally see on a setup like this.
The results of the conversion were immediately apparent. The EFI conversion improved reliability greatly and provided a whole range of tuning options which, in turn, made the car more responsive across the full RPM range. The bigger EFI engine doubled the power output to 50kw at the wheels, while also adding torque.
The car now starts reliably irrespective of altitude and weather conditions, it performs reliably and predictably as well as providing Matt with the added security of engine protection features.
The system is also upgradeable and scalable so if Matt ever decides to turn his weekend van into an LS-powered burnout beast or a Barra-driven drag car he can do so with his current engine management setup.
So if you are a fan of the classic good looks but don’t want to deal with the shortcomings of outdated technology, the good news is with a simple EFI conversion you can have the best of both worlds!