We bought a 1974 VW mini-bus very similar to Minerva, which is a 1972 Westy. Initially, we figured this would double as a “donor vehicle” from which we could transplant body panels. Upon further inspection, we ended up finding hidden rust on this one too and almost as much body filler (mud) in some areas as was on Minerva. Thankfully, the primary reason we bought this was to test for fitment of the new engine and suspension.
There is no manual for putting a 2009 front wheel drive engine in a 1972 VW rear wheel drive bus so a lot of this is uncharted territory… it called for ‘educated experimentation’. We’re doing this on the ’74 bus so that we can make mistakes on IT and do as little cutting and modification as possible on Minerva.
To start, we used a plasma cutter to amputate the existing suspension and frame rails to make room for the new driveline. We also used a pneumatic body saw to remove the roof of the engine housing, on top of which sat the conversion bed “mattress”. This will need to be shifted a few inches up and forward in the final cuts on Minerva.
Everything fits for the most part… the tires are touching the wheel wells ever so slightly, so we’re looking into shorter half shafts (aka constant velocity axles or “CV axles). The next steps will be to build a custom frame complete with engine and suspension mounts… we’re also having a custom fuel cell made – similar to what you’d find in race cars.