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Greg @ VMC seems to offer a very nice 1915 engine making about 110hp. I assume that’s plenty for a 356 Speedster Replica which originally had 60hp back when Porsche designed and built these cars.

With the VMC 1915 engine you get the 4.12 differential with the highway .82 4th gear which should work well for cruising speeds at 65-70mph, and the 4.12 should deliver brisk acceleration.

Assuming the base 1915 with the 4.12, is it safe to assume that the 1,700lbs Speedster will be peppy and can achieve 0-60 in about 7-8 seconds?

With that said, how much more performance does the 2332 actually offer based on real world driving, assuming back county roads and occasional highway runs?  And if you upgrade to the 2332 is the 3.88 differential required or can you stick with the standard 4.12/.82 gears?

Final question, is it safe to assume that the 2332 will run hotter and have higher oil and cylinder head temps?  I know that Greg at VMC factory installs an oil cooler with electric fan, but is the extra power worth the cost, heat and potential headaches?

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What you ask is an age old question. Everything is a trade off even more with these little air cooled engines. The answer to your question lies in how much the extra power means to you and what you are willing to pay in time and money. The 2332 engine will cost more of both. I would go with the 2332 without a thought but I like the power and understand the trade off's. If you like turning a wrench and understand the VW type 1 engine go for it, if you are a turn the key and drive kind of guy stick with the 1915. I hope you enjoy your speedster either way.

Last edited by Jimmy V.

I know a lot of guys choose the smaller engines and love them but for me a 2110 is a bullet proof setup and a 2332 is probably the top and I would get Pat Downs to build it if I was going AC.  Combine that with a 3:44 R&P and you have a very nice cruising vehicle that will do 70-mph all day.  Carbs need upkeep on any car IMO, it is the nature of those beasts.

Thanks guys. I can see me doing both. Highway driving at 70mph and cruise drives on twisty country roads. The cost of the larger engine (and perhaps an upgrade to the differential and transmission) is not a factor for me. I am more concerned with solid performance and low headaches as I am a type-A guy and enjoy when my vehicles are running well with limited headaches. I am leaning towards keeping it simple and visceral with the 1915 engine.

if you do select the larger engine with an additional 30-40hp, safe to assume you will need to reduce the ring and pinion to a lower ratio?

Last edited by NJ-SpeedsterGuy

I think that @Jimmy V. said it best- reread what he posted at least a couple of times.  Remember that the 4 cam Speedsters had 110-120 hp (out of 1500 cc's at about 6500 rpm so there really wasn't much below 4,000 or 4500)  so a 1915 with 110 hp (at a slightly lower redline and with more bottom end/lower midrange) with a 4.12 transaxle will be a pretty peppy car around town and with stock 1st-4th gears will still allow you to cruise on the highway at 70 mph.  That said- there's nothing like the power of a 2110, 2180 or 2332 in these cars- any of these engines just makes it that much more fun!

You could use a 3.88 r&p with a 1915 for a slightly lower rpm on the highway, but you will be trading off that around town "peppiness".  Of course, a larger engine with the 3.88 will restore most of that off the line acceleration while still giving the lower cruising rpm's- with a 4 speed there are compromises, and you can't have it all.  A 5 speed, on the otherhand, just ups the game a whole 'nother level... 

Hope this helps.  Al

I bet there is a big cost jump from a 1915 to a 2332 - stroker crank, piston rods, cam, heads, extra oil cooling, and bigger carbs --- along with the transaxle.  That cost jump is close to the Subaru swap.  Like they say pay once and feel the pain once. If you have to ask "where can I find an air cooled mechanic?" - then go with the Subaru.  Some 1915 can just be an economy build (veiled as a performance engine) --- if only the P&C are larger with the appropriate case/head machine work then you're getting only 80-90 hp. 

I tried a 1835cc and drove all around Vancouver and I really had to row to get going, I stepped into a 2110cc and it was a very good and able car.  Lived with it for 5 years.  Sold it and built a 2.5L full subie with 5 sp and reverse R&P as I suggested to you.  The engine torque band is so broad and flat with torque starting from the get go.  Very Very pleasant, turn the key and go.  I agree with Wolfgang, it is a more modern and easier to service engine and tranny combo and it supports A/C and heat much more easily.  Talk to Greg.

Thanks for all of the feedback. I hear you loud and clear on the Subie engine, but honestly, that’s not what I am looking for with my Speedster build  


I have several modern and much more powerful cars and truly want this car to be a throw back in driving feel, sound and experience.  With that said I do want a peppy car that is generally reliable. It seems that Greg’s 1915 engine should accomplish that goal, and I have a great Indy Porsche shop which can service the air cooled engine with zero concerns.

I guess what I am really asking here is will the 1915 be too slow, will the 2332 be more fussy and run hotter during the summer months and would I 100% have to upgrade to the 3.88 differential with the larger air cooled engine?  

Greg’s cost to upgrade from the 1915 >> 2332 is only $2,500.00 but when you bundle that with the 3.88 gear set the cost almost doubles at $4,500.00.  I am not sure that extra 35hp is going to be worth the combined cost and potential concerns?

I hear great things about the 1915 and have a gut feeling that Greg puts it in these as standard as it’s the sweet spot for this little car. He seems to have that 1915 dialed in with the help of the folks at CB.

i had vw's in my youth...and i don't want to upset the vw's guys....i also had old harleys & raced desert on husky's.....my point is, i'm 63 now and really don't want to wrench on stuff anymore...ergo the SUBARU 2.5 EJ25.....A/C..tons of torque...no more tinkering...laying on the ground etc....wolfy ...alb....ray...danny...are all correct...i just didn't want to be capt wet blanket for the aircooled purists..... IMHO from personal experience.....if you don't know the vw very well....the high displacement HP engines are not for you....the bigger they get the more chance of meltdown....usually at the worst possible time and location.....murphy and his law probably had vw's....just sayin'

From what I have seen, a majority of Greg’s recent builds have the 2332 motor.  Also, I think you would be leaving a lot to be desired if you went with the 2332 and stayed with the 4.12 R&P. The 3.88 or 3.44 are going to be the better transmission options for the 2332.

I spoke with Greg over the phone about his engine and transmission options before making my decision. He claims the 2332 he offers is as reliable as the 1915. It is a modest 2332 build, and could certainly be wrung out for more power. His goal with the engine is for it to be reliable.

I’m waiting on my VMC speedster, 2332 motor with 3.44 transmission, to be completed. I hope to have it within a couple of weeks. COVID related delays kept pushing it back, coupled with the fact Greg is swamped with work.

@jncspyder posted:

i had vw's in my youth...and i don't want to upset the vw's guys....i also had old harleys & raced desert on husky's.....my point is, i'm 63 now and really don't want to wrench on stuff anymore...ergo the SUBARU 2.5 EJ25.....A/C..tons of torque...no more tinkering...laying on the ground etc....wolfy ...alb....ray...danny...are all correct...i just didn't want to be capt wet blanket for the aircooled purists..... IMHO from personal experience.....if you don't know the vw very well....the high displacement HP engines are not for you....the bigger they get the more chance of meltdown....usually at the worst possible time and location.....murphy and his law probably had vw's....just sayin'

That about sums it up on why a subie is a good turnkey option.

@NJ-SpeedsterGuy Maybe the only conclusion is to fly to SLO in California and ride shotgun and I am sure a few will let you test ride cars with different engine configurations that would be the way to go otherwise you will be on the upgrade madness as we have all been on.    

Believe me when I say we are simply trying to help you form a better total picture of what you want in your build.  best

Last edited by IaM-Ray

Thanks for all of the feedback. I hear you loud and clear on the Subie engine, but honestly, that’s not what I am looking for with my Speedster build  


I have several modern and much more powerful cars and truly want this car to be a throw back in driving feel, sound and experience.  With that said I do want a peppy car that is generally reliable. It seems that Greg’s 1915 engine should accomplish that goal, and I have a great Indy Porsche shop which can service the air cooled engine with zero concerns.

I guess what I am really asking here is will the 1915 be too slow, will the 2332 be more fussy and run hotter during the summer months and would I 100% have to upgrade to the 3.88 differential with the larger air cooled engine?  

Greg’s cost to upgrade from the 1915 >> 2332 is only $2,500.00 but when you bundle that with the 3.88 gear set the cost almost doubles at $4,500.00.  I am not sure that extra 35hp is going to be worth the combined cost and potential concerns?

I hear great things about the 1915 and have a gut feeling that Greg puts it in these as standard as it’s the sweet spot for this little car. He seems to have that 1915 dialed in with the help of the folks at CB.

That is nowhere near the cost of the a Subaru, especially if you add the Subarugears transmission.

The man wants the vintage experience, let him be.

As TwinCities said, Greg's 2332 setup is pretty reliable. It has large dual single throats. Probably about the same power as a decent(not high strung) 2110. With the auxiliary cooler it will be fine.

Thanks for all of the feedback. I hear you loud and clear on the Subie engine, but honestly, that’s not what I am looking for with my Speedster build  


I have several modern and much more powerful cars and truly want this car to be a throw back in driving feel, sound and experience.  With that said I do want a peppy car that is generally reliable. It seems that Greg’s 1915 engine should accomplish that goal, and I have a great Indy Porsche shop which can service the air cooled engine with zero concerns.

I guess what I am really asking here is will the 1915 be too slow, will the 2332 be more fussy and run hotter during the summer months and would I 100% have to upgrade to the 3.88 differential with the larger air cooled engine?  

Greg’s cost to upgrade from the 1915 >> 2332 is only $2,500.00 but when you bundle that with the 3.88 gear set the cost almost doubles at $4,500.00.  I am not sure that extra 35hp is going to be worth the combined cost and potential concerns?

I hear great things about the 1915 and have a gut feeling that Greg puts it in these as standard as it’s the sweet spot for this little car. He seems to have that 1915 dialed in with the help of the folks at CB.

I like the way you think. I feel the same. I want the experience of a 50’s sports car.

FWIW, I have a 2332 (JPS provided, GEM built) and the 3.88 I think (Freeway Flyer??) .  Runs the highway fine and has the requisite torque to push you through the twisties enough to scare you. I had many sorting issues.  I had many Weber (IDF44) issues.  After tinkering and fussing, these issues abated, and recently the car has been running pretty good.  Full disclosure: my first car at age 20 was a 356A coupe, 1600 normal.  I learned a lot about air cooled with that car.  Then a 356B S90, and learned a lot more.  Both daily drivers for many years.  I am a gearhead, and have tools and the inclination to fuss and fiddle.  I surely do not know it all, but I do know enough. You sound like someone who is not afflicted similarly.  you prefer to Hop in turn the key, go.  This is the reason why the Subie conversion is so popular.  Just guessing here, but I think you'd be delighted with such a drivetrain.  With more than enough punch to satisfy all requirements.

There are many options and many different car owners on this list that have changed cars or engines many times.  When I share my journey it is simply to help others and maybe save them a few hurdles and loops, as I keep saying,  most people have very little chance to try cars. I believe that knowing people’s experiences helps one choose,  in the end they have to choose and live with it. Best of journeys with your choices.

Last edited by IaM-Ray

I may have to take that flight to the west coast for some Speedster test drives :-)

in looking at some old posts from TwinCitiesSpeedster and finding Greg’s standard gears for the 4.12 ring and pinion (which are 3.90, 1.93, 1.21and 0.82) and looking at the videos and tire sizes of the Ivory/Tan VMC Speedster which sold on BaT last week for $61k (which had the 1915 engine and 4.12 R&P) it seems Greg has it right on the money and the 1915 with 4.12/0.82 will be fine on the highway. You can see in the video the Ivory Speedster running at 3000RPM and running just over 40mph in third gear.

The auction car was outfitted with 195/65/15 tires which have a 25” height, on the highway at 65mph that engine would be turning 2950RPM and only 3200RPM at 70mph. Seems about right to keep the Type I air cooled engine properly cooled.

The speedster picks up ~11mph for each additional 500RPM. Assuming enough blacktop and 4800RPM she hits a top speed of 106MPH which is plenty fast for that chassis.  With the 3.88RP and the same .082 4th gear (and the larger 2332 engine) she could pull past 112-115mph.


Here’s a pic from the gearing calculator.  Seems to me the 110hp 1915 should run cool, have good pep on back roads below 60mph and be able to handle some freeway runs in the low 3000RPM rev range  

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I’m still a newbie and haven’t even taken delivery yet but I went through the same decision process. I had thought about the Subaru option but in speaking with Greg last year he said that would be over a year to be completed. That was back when he was quoting 6-8 month lead times for air cooled.  So, that was out for me. For me the cost of the upgrade for the 2332/3.44 was an easy decision after speaking with Greg. It is a mild build with 145 hp, so not pushing everything to the absolute limit. After driving it (for just a little bit) I was glad I spent the money.

Another monkey wrench: There are some who have driven the .82 4th gear transaxles who say the gap between 3rd and 4th is too wide for their liking. I believe them.

I have a 1915 (120hp @ 5500) with a 3.44 R&P and stock late Bug gears: 3.80-2.06-1.26-.93.

I have found these to be pretty nice in my 1550-pound Spyder and also very nice in my Subaru-powered (137hp @5200) MG TD, which weighs 1750 pounds or so.

With 165/80-15s (stock Bug tire sizes) I get 60 mph at the top of 2nd gear and 70 mph at 3000 RPM, and no "hole" in my cruising speeds wherein 3rd gear is revving too high and 4th is lugging.

These gears with a 3.88—i.e. exactly what came in every Bug manufactured after 1974 (they weighed 1850 or so empty and had, generously speaking, 60 hp)—will feel very "snappy" in a 110-hp Speedster that weighs 1700 pounds or so. You'll be doing 60+ at 3000 rpm in 4th with a lot of air under your right foot. You can downshift to 3rd on the highway and zip around trucks and such. It will feel "right," in terms of feeling like you've got the hottest street roadster available in 1957. It's what you should get.

The 4.12 R&P with the shorter 3.90 (?!) gear will allow your 110 horses to rocket you of the line from a dead stop. You'll be screaming for 2nd about half way through the intersection, shifting to 3rd at about 40 and the car will feel really quick in 3rd.

A lot of guys (looking at you, @ALB) love this; in the 1970s and '80s this was how kids building Bug engines challenged (and sometimes beat) the dudes building small block Chevy engines. Midnight Friday on the Berlin Parkway, top of 3rd was all that mattered: the next light was always red.

But if your life and driving pleasures extend beyond an eighth mile, winding out 3rd gear to the redline and just about touching 70 mph makes you want—actually need—two more gears.* You need a 1:1 4th to get you into highway cruising mode and then an .82 5th gear to let the engine loaf a little on the flats. Jumping straight to that .82 leaves you with a "hole."

Does it work?

Yes. Sort of. Until you run into a steep incline on a hot day. You're booking along at 70mph (3000rpm) and you start climbing and the car slows to 65...60. You might see the oil temp start to rise...

So you go for 3rd and WAAAAAAAAH you're instantly at 4800 RPM and it startles you and you think "oh crap I'm gonna blow it up."

The good news: you're not gonna blow it up.

The bad news is you no longer feel like the coolest cat at the sock hop.

I'll expect others here to restate the benefits of the 4.12 ring gear and the ecstasy of light-to-light acceleration that can surprise the hesher in his over-cammed '78 Camaro. I really don't think that's what these cars are, or should be, all about.

So it pains me to see these high-ratio, ultra-wide boxes continuing to be sold as standard.

My Spyder came with one! 4.12 and an .82 4th. I called my trans guy and got it changed.

Best compromise for high-speed cruising would be the late Karmann Ghia gears: same as the late Beetle but with a .89 4th in place of the .93. Gives like 65 mph at 3000rpm in 4th. Not so big a gap from 3rd that your palms sweat every time you downshift.

==

*This, of course, also can be done. All it takes is time and money—lots of both! Guys who have spent them have joined a kind of secret society like Homer Simpson's Stone Cutters' Guild. They drive in tunnels lit by crystal chandeliers. They consort with heads of state and space aliens. Women love them, men fear them, etc....

I believe a 2007 cc displacement (90.5 cylinders and 78 mm stroke) is as bulletproof as they come. You’re getting as much displacement as possible without weakening the case and keeping more meat in it and the cylinder walls. That coupled with a nice cam and ported big valve heads with nice 40 dual throat carbs and nice exhaust should get you where you want to be.

The 1915 cc in my car works well but not as well as I thought it would work after what I put into it. When the motor was hardly used I did a top end job that consisted on installing big valve CB Performance 044 heads that were ported along with a set of dual Dellorto 40’s, 1.25 ratio rockers, chromoly pushrods and rigid rocker shafts and swivel feet adjusters as well as breather kit and nice exhaust. Many of those parts came from Gene Berg. My big mistake was not splitting the case to install a nice cam and counterweighted crank. I resisted that being that the motor was so low miles; I didn’t want to touch it.  Also I didn’t switch the flywheel for a lightened unit. I am seriously thinking about doing all that now in order to try to maximize what I have within that displacement. My dream engine would be a 2007 cc but I would have to incur in a lot more money; (basically switching the whole thing without reusing much of what I have). I’ve heard of great power coming out of 1915s; but then again it’s all down to the combination of components that you put into it; the cam being one of the most crucial ones. The cam really wakes up an otherwise meh engine. I am now thinking about using what I have and swapping the crank for a counterweighted one, as well as the cam and lifters for an Engle 110 type, put in a lightened flywheel and reusing everything else.

Last edited by Impala
@edsnova posted:

All it takes is time and money—lots of both! Guys who have spent them have joined a kind of secret society like Homer Simpson's Stone Cutters' Guild. They drive in tunnels lit by crystal chandeliers. They consort with heads of state and space aliens. Women love them, men fear them, etc....

Us:

Stan

The 5-speed guys:

Mitch

Seriously - read every word Ed wrote, then read it again. I've had no less than 5 different 4-speed gearsets in my car, and have experienced two more in other speedsters I've owned. A super-beetle mainshaft (3.80/2.06) first and second, and a .93 fourth with a 3.44 is as close to perfect as you're going to get. Ed's got a 1.26 3rd, and I speced a 1.31 - but really, we're down to po-tay-to/ po-ta-to on this.

The difficulty is in finding a 3.44 ring and pinion, and the inability to get them readily is why Greg and company does what he does with the custom mainshaft and .82/4.12 4th. When you plot out what he is specing, it's very, very close to what Ed and I both have, and what we are advocating for.

My .02 says this trans will work on either a 1915 or a 2332.

FWIW, I'd get the bigger engine and ask for some 44 Webers, as I'm not a fan of Kadrons. But again - I completely understand why Greg does what he does, and he's building nice cars.

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