• Apr 15, 2008

While there are countless aftermarket engine, transmission, and brake upgrades for the Volkswagen Vanagon, what could be better than a factory conversion... from Porsche? The Porsche-branded B32 van you see above occurred back in the mid-1980's, when the automaker from Stuttgart was racing its awesome Group B 959 in the Paris to Dakar Rally and the factory found itself in need of a support vehicle. Using a Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter (Vanagon) as a platform, the van was modified to accommodate the 3.2-liter flat-6 engine from the Porsche 911 Carrera. The air-cooled powerplant was good for 230 hp and a top speed in excess of 130 mph. It obviously offered significantly more motivation than the largest VW factory engine at the time, a water-cooled inline-5, though testing its limits was likely akin to expressing a death wish. Porsche built up to eleven examples of the "B32" complete with upgraded suspension, brakes, and leather interiors. Thanks for the awesome tip, Mike!

[Source: Finalgear]



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  • 19 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I remember in the '70s, my father's Porsche mechanic in Seattle, Denny Ackers (the go to guy for German cars in the '60s and '70s in Seattle) had a VW van with a Porsche engine. It was considered quite a novelty.
      • 6 Years Ago
      LOL, so apparently no one here has heard of the Race-Taxi? http://race-taxi.ch/

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XvjVvFdMIY

      It's a VW T1 bus with a Porsche 993 Turbo engine in it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As far as I know under German regs as long as the factory approves the car it is ok. German laws prohibit modification from factory... P even allows the 944 camino to be factory authed so that the guy could drive it. That car was on autoblog a few months ago.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sorry, but I don't want to be the one testing out that tiny crumple zone at 130MPH.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Those cars were stiff as hell for the time, Here's the well known vanagon vs. Volvo test. http://www.vanagon.com/info/safety/volvo-crash/index.html
        • 6 Years Ago
        stiff = no absorption of kinetic energy = broken collarbone from seatbelt at best, human projectile at worst
        • 6 Years Ago
        • 6 Years Ago
        If you hit something solid at 130mph, the only difference will be that noone might languish over pulling the plug on you later.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Victor, stiff as hell? Here's the well known VW van crash test from youtube.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ukq-UUQAcZs
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Vanagon in the youtube video has about 1000kg of steel bolted to the bed. The video was shot as a demonstration of the testing facilities (MIRA in England if I remember correctly). It was also crashed at a considerably higher speed than normal 100kph, and into a solid concrete block, not the deformable/ movable barriers that are used for standard crash testing. Vanagons are very safe vehicles, I know I wrecked one hit a deer then a tree at around 60mph and walked away with only a bruise from the seat belt. You can look up actual crash tests of Vanagons (VW T3), not the test facilities, and see that they perform quite well in the standard tests.

        Also the STi conversion has been do several times, so has a conversion using the H-6, and the SVX motor. I currently have one with a 2L golf motor. The VR6 is also pretty common. There are many with Porsche motors (and transmissions), and a few with Audi V8's.


        The Race-Taxi is a VW splitwindow body mounted on a Vanagon platform, with Porsche running gear, and brakes.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't think that's true for the Paris-Dakar. I've read it, but there is not support for that whatsoever. Some Vanagons did the Paris-Dakar, and some rallying as well (they have an excellent 4wd system) but not as support vehicles for Porsche. but most of them were dokas, etc. while the B32 were luxury SUV.

      The 5 vanagons (5 is the numbers that comes up most often) that were built by Porsche (with Porsche VIN and all) were more likely toys for the executives and prototypes for a luxury SUV.

      The Cayenne is indeed in the line of this B32. Porsche have been playing with many concept cars to get out of sports car only. They've been trying to get a decent sedan for decades.
      There was even a Porsche built "Caravan-like" based on a VW Sharan. Luckily the proto was destroyed.

      Regarding the Paris-Dakar: from memory, Porsche won in 86 at least (several times I think during mid 80's). The syncro (AWD) was available commercially in 86. All the B32 sports latter years vanagon accessories/finish. I believe the B32 came way after the Porsche Paris Dakar days.

      Regarding the subaru vanagons: it's very frequent now. it's probably the most common conversion. The original engine were not great performers and demanded quite some pricey maintenance. Many shops/builders offer complete kits or conversions. From the 2.2 engine (135hp), 2.5 (165hp) to the SVX 3.3 engine (230hp). The STi, and WRX and H6 engines have also been installed, but still as custom solution. Eric Didier is the specialist for the STi conversion.

      PS: the main vanagon engines were wasserboxer 1.9 and 2.1, 4 cyl, gas.. the only place the 5 cyl engine was offered was South Africa is the late 90s. 1.6D and 1.6TD were offered as well. (1.6D only in NA/US).
      VW also offer its own 6 cyl WBX through Oettinger. offered in 3.2 and 3.7L version (150 /180hp), but way less sportier than the carrera of the actual SVX offering (230hp).
      • 6 Years Ago
      Around the Chicago area there was an old Vanagon running around the north burbs in the mid 80's with a Porsche engine in it....He had a custom badge that read "Porschegone" on the back in the same logo font as the original. I cracked up when I saw it. What a sound it made but oh, did it have some serious rear end squat as it took off!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Chant it with me:

      Tur-bo! Tur-bo! Tur-bo! :)

      -SimianSpeedster
      • 6 Years Ago
      OH MAN!

      Now you've done it. I've suppressed years of brutal Vanagon memories and now you've just gone and peeled back layers & layers of really bad Karma 8-]

      I purchased one of those suckers in 1987 and let me tell you, even the stock 90 HP engine was "testing the limits" of the Vanagon. I was at the dealership every week, parts broke & fell off faster that the dealer could fix them. We got know the first names of every tow truck operator within 50 miles of home. Our family named the Vanagon, "Hitler's Revenge".

      Whoever was ordered to drive a 230HP B32 Vanagon must have had a gun pointed to their head.

      Damn, I got'a call my therapist now....
        • 6 Years Ago
        that explains my friends 3 vanagons I never see leave his front lot. I am amazed the city hasn't forced him to move those unsightly things.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Our family named the Vanagon, "Hitler's Revenge". "

        That made me laugh
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