Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

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Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby Atlas » Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:49 pm

I've reading through the different engine options in 550 Spyder replicas, and a lot of the discussion I've been seeing is from 10-15 years ago. I'm wondering if the ideas still hold true today.

These discussions were helpful, but are 10-15 years old:
Type 4 Engine Setup? - http://www.spyderclub.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=11779
What do you know about engines? - http://www.spyderclub.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5020
type 4 engine kits, now available!! - http://ww.w.spyderclub.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2854

This was probably the most helpful discussion from a few years ago:
Porsche engines in 550 replicas.. Why not more of them? - http://www.spyderclub.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=16505

Based on that, this is my take, and I'm wondering if I'm missing the mark anywhere:
    -> Type 1 - Has been used as the "Standard" on 550 Spyder replicas for a long time; the engines are ubiquitous and therefore have the most available aftermarket parts and are by far the cheapest
    -> Type 4 (Type IV) - A stronger, more robust engine that can handle horsepower increases a little better / more reliably; since it was used in some Porsches it could be considered a little bit more "correct" by some
    -> Subaru 2.5L - More power, lower maintenance than the other options; most faint-inducing to the purist who can't bring himself to say the words, "My 550 Spyder has a Subaru motor in it..."

As I'm just starting to look at Spyders, it seems like the easiest and most economical way to jump in is to find a used Spyder--and if that's what I do, then it seems like there's an 80% - 90% chance it will have a Type 1 engine in it. If I was looking for one of the other two options, it seems like the only way to go is to either get a new Spyder built from scratch, or be VERY selective in purchasing a used one (as in, it might take a few years). Based on the prices I'm seeing used cars go for and the prices for a Type IV engine (looks like you're going to pay like $20k-$25k for a turnkey engine or more?), it would almost never make much sense to buy a used one and do an engine swap (since it would be cheaper to have it built to your specs with the engine you want from the beginning). Am I looking at this the right way?
Last edited by Atlas on Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby MMcGuire » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:39 am

Just sent you a DM.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby RVosari » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:35 am

Atlas,
First step is to figure out which chassis you want:

The full aluminum (bodywork) re-pro at $ 100K

Or one of the fiberglass re-pros

Since you are not in a hurry it behooves you to look around…

In my case I bought a Beck Spyder with 238 km on the clock…the motor had been started 1000 times but driven 100 miles, so it was not my kind of motor !

I found a guy who had a 0 time Pat Downs 2.2 liter motor. He thought it to be too powerful for his application…he liked mine, so for $ 2500; I had a $ 6500 motor. [8D]

After 3 years of use (5800 miles)… leak was 4 % … excellent for any air-cooled

So…take your time and look around !

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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby Atlas » Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:46 pm

Hi ReV,
I tend to think the all-aluminum body would be ideal for going down the "perfect" replica route. As cool as that is, I think I'm more interested in dipping my toes in the water and having a solid weekend driver with as much inspiration from the classic as possible, and keep the cost down. With that in mind, I'm also interested in performance upgrades resulting in more horsepower and better driving dynamics. I like the added rigidity and coil-over suspension capability of the Vintage chassis.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby RBP » Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:20 pm

Well much of this discussion depends on your personality. Many here want air cooled engines because thats what the original 550 had and its what these cars and experience are all about. Many prefer the Type IV simply due to the fact the engine was used in the Porsche 914 (also used in VW bus) so it can be said that the car has a Porsche engine. It usually has the higher hp and definitely the higher torque numbers than the type I, and it is said "its all about the torque" The type I is widely used, not as bullet proof and has no front engine mounts, the engine just hangs off the transaxle. Many are of the opinion that its ok making 60 hp and low torque for a beetle but not the prefered configuration if you have 100 hp or more. Many also are of the opinion you want at least about 180 hp and as much torque to make the experience meet with expectation when driving the car. Personally I like the air cooled engines, something about the straight forward simplicity of a set of weber carbs and no complicated electronics. Nice to be able to fix anything anywhere. The type I is less expensive and there are more of them around then the type IV so it comes down to what your willing to spend to say you have Porsche power. Even if you believe what everyone says about longevity, look at Rev, he's had great experience with a type I and is likely making 180 or there about hp. Keep in mind these aren't daily drivers, they get out on a nice day, not too hot not too cold, do the math, Rev has less than 2000 miles a year and thats a lot more than most.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby EEricson » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:12 pm

Type 1: tried and true. The lightest option, and a CB Performance 2180 or 2165 will crank out an honest 165 or more HP, which is frankly just about as much as these chassis can handle while remaining true to the original concept.

Do guys want more? Sure! Do they get more? Absolutely. And for some it's just the ticket. But if you look at the mileage on most of these cars, against the years owned, you'll see: You've got to really be in love with these things (and be a pretty special kind of motorist) before the real-world differences between a Type 4 and Type 1 engine will much matter. And the Porsche guys? They don't care. The modern Porsche guys have no legitimate idea what a "real" 550 should look or sound like. They maybe know what the fan shroud* should look like. Maybe. The fact that you don't have a Porsche VIN is all they know, and most love all varieties of our fakesters anyway.

Type 4: Better than Type 1: more durable, able to be built bigger and stronger, and the exhausts come out in the right place (so important for those of us who crave that authentic look when climbing under the car) but a little heavier. And a lot more bucks. There is a reason Jake Raby targeted his Type IV business to crazy camper people: those MF's DRIVE. You want to amortize an $18,000 engine over 220,000 miles, not 2200.

Subaru: This is the ticket if you want 180 HP or more in a bullet-proof package that starts and idles easily & demands almost none of your free time. Obviously the least "authentic" and looks like what it is. The water cooled system will cost a little weight and eat away at that precious (to some) "frunk" space. If not having to adjust valves and synch carbs and sweat the unreliability of the Pertronix Igniter/009 distributor combo pack is high on your list of needs, then the Subie is where you want to head. Be aware though: you DO have to maintain the cooling system.

Any EJ25 will get you power to blow the doors off a lot of fast modern cars (in a drag race), and most of them are true "four-cam" engines, so you can brag on that—tongue in cheek.

From there you can easily get into the weeds: Why not a 5-Speed? Why not a true IRS? It's been done. Is it really better than the originals? Ask the guy who owns one...see if you can drive it. And what's it worth to you? The key to remember is that all that extra horsepower starts to seem to demand all those "upgrades" for "safety" and performance that the basic chassis was never designed to deliver.

The Beck frame is nominally more like the 550s were. The Vintage is nominally stronger and safer. They both reportedly work pretty well but in both cases the rear suspension is swing axle. They cannot handle like modern cars. You need to be careful and know how to drive them—and if you want to drive fast you better be very skilled and very lucky. Just one won't cut it.

Which cuts to the heart of why the Type 1—cheap, increasingly cheesy and always a bit fussy—is the usual fare: Your garden variety 1915 engine with 100 horsepower (and maybe 110 ft-lbs torque) is near parity with the original 547/1 cars (110hp/90 torque). At some point, the power-to-fun curve inverts.

So, again: Are you gonna drive this thing? That's where you've got to start. Get in and out of one a few times. Try doing it when your arms are tired. If you already have a convertible, leave the top down for a month and see how that feels. Think of it as an antique race car and not a sports car.

*A center-mount fan shroud that looks close enough to a proper 547 shroud was promised us several years ago; still no sign of it. The Bergman 911 shroud looks very cool but very wrong, and the normal VW shroud looks like what it is, which is much like what the first few real 550s got. Your Type 4 shroud will most likely be a Raby upright DTM conversion—which looks like nothing else (and nothing Porsche ever did or would do). And you probably already know what the sunny side of a Subaru engine looks like. So the basic deal is this: the engine will never look "right" anyway.

The "right" engine? $220k won't buy you one. https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1955-porsche-4-cam-carerra/?utm_source=transactionalemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=bat_reserve_not_met_watchers_bidders And the performance would bore any of us.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby RVosari » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:34 pm

Atlas,

The key is to sit-in and preferably drive the various builds. It will give you a feel for the car, the shifter, pedals, steering wheels etc….but more importantly it will determine how well you physically fit in the car and if you are comfortable driving it.

My motor is more like 140-145 HP…the original motor, was under 2 liters and maybe 110 HP.

Torque is key…a friend has an Intermeccanica Speedster…his original motor was supposed to be 170 HP…but it was a chore to drive because nothing happened under 4000 RPM, and you had to wind the motor over 6500 RPM for power to develop.

Not ideal for a street use…

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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby Atlas » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:21 pm

Great info from everyone and much appreciated. I can see the upside to all the options, depending on one's mindset.

EEricson, your breakdown addressed a lot of the things I was wondering about. As in all things horsepower related, it often comes down to how much you're willing to pay. I was kind of surprised at the big premium for the Type 4 motors. So am I correct to assume these approximate engine prices?:
Type 1: $6-8k - this would be a fairly high horsepower engine, maybe 140 - 180hp?
Type 4: $18-$25k - probably also higher HP, but more torque and more durability.
Subaru: I'm less clear on what these engines cost, but this seems like the way to go if you want to exceed 200hp, or take advantage of other characteristics of water cooling (and don't mind deviating pretty far from the original)

While the Type 4 seems to make a lot if sense on the surface, that price premium is kind of a head scratcher for something that's obviously not going to be a daily driver. The Subie is a different animal, and while my gut steers me toward air cooled, I've seen some cool builds with impressive HP from the Subie.

As for me, I've owned a 944 and a convertible 911 in the past. Now my daily is one of those silly electric cars. It's fast, able to do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, but feel like I need something more raw (and I miss the convertible). Before my latest car, I never owned a car that didn't have a manual gearbox. Luckily, I have a Harley to keep me sane and burn some petroleum.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby EEricson » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:11 am

If you go to the CB Performance web site and look at Turn Key engines you'll get a very good idea of what an excellent Type 1 costs and how much power you get per $$. Cheaper options are available, but the risks really start to add up fast.

My price quote on the Type IV, alas, is not so expert. It's based on what I heard through the grapevine Jake Raby was getting for his meticulous builds over a decade ago, adjusted for seat-of-the-pants inflation. There are probably better sources here for the likely cost of building a +2 liter Type IV; everyone agrees it's more than a Type 1 though.

These engines really do cost a lot for what you get, particularly when compared to the kind of power and dead-nuts reliability available via LSx and Coyote engines.

The Subaru I have some experience with, having transplanted a junkyard 2.2 into my VW-based MG TD. I budgeted $5k for that in 2013 and probably exceeded that by $1,000. That was a DiY job with a stock harness I had adjusted by a guy in Canada who specializes in such. If I were having this work done today I'd go to Carey Hines or Greg at Vintage and open the wallet. Ask them; my guess is it's $12k or so.

Be aware: you will not make a Spyder that can beat a Tesla to the next light, unless you really, really want to ruin the Spyder. This is what I'm talking about.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby danstern » Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:48 pm

The 550 can only handle so much power before it's totally unbalanced and not fun (except in a straight line).
150hp is more than enough in my opinion (and I've owned a 500hp Scuderia so I'm not averse to hp).
A CB of 2 to 2.2 liters is the sweet spot. Not too expensive, more than enough hp and reliable.
That'll be $0.02
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby DannyP » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:26 pm

Ed and Dan really nailed it. I've driven almost 45,000 miles in a Spyder(2002 Vintage until 2016, the last 2 years in a new Vintage. Total years on the road:12). Over 3500 miles a year on average. I have 170 hp, 147 torque. Over 140 ft. lbs from 3000 to 6000. It's just right for me. Any more power would be too much for the chassis. If you drive really hard, the Spyder is unforgiving. Brakes can be upgraded, trans ratios changed, power output changed. But in the end, it's a shorter and lower and lighter Beetle, so suspension is the real limiter. There have been a few that got rid of the trailing arm/swing axle combo, but they are all one-offs

I had a top on the old car, and I have a gas heater with defrost that does extend the season. Also carbon fiber electric seat heaters.

Treat it like a 4 wheeled motorcycle and you're thinking straight.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby RBP » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:57 am

If your interested in the different cost for air cooled power look at these sites. You can buy the fully turnkey RAT motor for 24,000 or the unassembled package for 7,000 and you need a case and cylinders. The Type I can be purchased as an unassembled package including the case and cylinders for 4,500. At least these are the costs based on the published asking price. To be honest most people wouldn't know the difference looking at a T-1 or T-4 anyway, us Spyder guys would because were in the hobby and interested in such things. As pointed out most of these are very low milage, Danny is the exception with the milage. I like anything air cooled but if you don't have any mechanical skills and prefer something modern then the Subie is your best bet. Also if you want other pricing on turn key T-4 engines call Greg at Vintage, he uses Fat Performance in all his turn key builds and has a very high opinion of these engines.

https://type4store.com/engine-kits/2270 ... n-kit.html

http://aircooledtechnology.com/product/ ... -914-cars/

https://www.cbperformance.com/product-p/1184.htm

The transaxle gearing is very important. You would need to make sure you get something with the right gears and RP. I run a 3:44 RP, 3.80 1st, 2.06 2nd, 1.26 3rd and a .89 4th, in my opinion, a good relationship between all the gears. The .89 4th runs at about 3,000 rpm at 70 mph. If a 5 speed was used it would need to have the same RP and 1,2,3,&4 gears. 5th would need to be something like .77 for high speed cruising, at least thats what I'd want. The gears I have make the car very fast, the only thing I'd really like is to be able to cruise at say 80 mph at 3,000 rpm, that would be sweet. An additional gear ratio in the mix of the existing 1 - 4 would be of no use, at least for me.
Last edited by RBP on Fri Aug 23, 2019 9:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby albaran » Fri Aug 23, 2019 7:22 am

With the large amount of aftermarket options available today for the type 1 motors, 150 to 180hp in these cars can be obtained for reasonable amounts of money. This will give you a high 13 second 1/4 mile time easily (according to Beck). Bear in mind that few of the so-called muscle cars of that era would be hard pressed to break 14 seconds in factory trim.
As good as these cars handle they still have antiquated suspensions by today's standards. My engine was built by a VW Connecticut high performance guy a decade ago and it still runs great. There are not that many actual VW parts in it.
If I were doing it again today, I would go with the CB motors. ( The guy that originally built my motor died.)
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby sjgharib » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:33 am

How DIY are you?
My 2.5L DOHC Subaru motor was a JDM (Japanese domestic motor), and cost... $700.
However, that was probably the least expensive part!

You'll need a Kennedy adapter if you want to mate it to a VW transaxle.
You have to chop 2-3" off of the bottom of the oilpan, else it's the lowest point in the car.
You have to machine the crank pulley to remove the belt grooves for the AC compressor (if you have a rear swing-arm torsion tube), then relocate the alternator (regardless of chassis).

Then you need some way of wiring it up - either an aftermarket ECU (Stinger) or open source like MegaSquirt. I did MegaSquirt, but that's as DIY as you can get (I literally used an oscilloscope at one point). You need a wide-band O2 sensor and good wiring skills.

Then depending on your install, you'll need to customize the frame to add the Subaru mounts, and then pipe the coolant hoses to the front to put in a radiator, adding a nice dual fan to ensure it keeps cool in all weather. I added a swirl tank because the radiator is lower than the engine,

Finally, I guess there are places that will sell an exhaust, but I'd be very nervous on fitment.

The long story is that the Subaru is fantastic, but A LOT of work to make go in these cars. It runs in all weather, all temperature, and generates loads of power. It sounds awesome. It starts instantly, and idles perfectly. There is very little to do, besides oil changes and standard stuff you would do on a subaru motor (as if we're ever going to get to a 100,000 timing belt change).

I saw it as an engineering challenge, and I wanted something that would not require a lot of ongoing tinkering once it was setup. However if you get sticker shock if you try to get someone to quote it for you, it's because they have to do all of the stuff above to make it work...
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Re: Type 1, Type 4, Suburu - 550 Engine Options

Postby EEricson » Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:35 pm

The exhaust is the easiest thing on these. You can get a stock Suby pipe out of a junkyard and have a muffler shop make it into a Sebring exhaust for a few hunnert, tops. There are, of course, much prettier options in stainless steel from our favorite aftermarket suppliers.
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