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22RE motor project for baja bug

Erik Irvine

Well-Known Member
I was wondering if anbody had any informaton or suggestions about a project I have been thinking about.
I have a mid-travel baja bug with a built bus box. I was thinking about putting a 22RE motor instead of the standard air cooled vw 4 cylinder. I realize I would need to mount a radiateor deal with a computer and wiring as well as an adapter plate. What else is there that I might need to know before I partake in this project?
(I know people like to shoot down ideas but I am looking for some positive feedback if there is any out there)

Erik Irvine

Well-Known Member
The reason I chose a 22RE mototr is because I am a fan of that particular motor. I have owned about 5 different toyota's with that motor and was very happy about the motor and it's reliability. I also don't want to put a motor with too much power like a v6 or anything because I know I will probably end up killing myself.I also have experience working on that motor and rebuilding if and when I would need to. As far as the drivetrain goes I was just gong to use an adapter plate and my bus box. I am on a budget


Well-Known Member
if it were mine... (sorry for the old addage)

i would get an sr20DE out of a nissan sentra or an infinity G20, and run that. The motor is similar to the 22R, except an extra cam, the efi is far superior, the wiring harness is simple as can be, and the trans already has 2 outputs for CVs. They can usually be had for about 120-180$ at a junkyard. They last forever and are some of the best motors ive ever worked with.

edit: it has an LSD too


Well-Known Member
keep in mind those water cooled motors dont make the low end torque of an air cooled , so you'll be running the gearbox through hi RPMs and bus boxes dont like that very much .

i believe some front wheel drive engines turn the wrong direction also

back in the day , cecil wright (the wright place)had a sweet (for the time) baja with a pinto 2 or 2.3 liter in it.


Well-Known Member
One bonus to a 22R/RE is the low end grunt. Out of the box they are not particularly happy above 4k, or mine isn't anyway. I see the extra torque on tap as more of a hazzard to the t/a's life than any high rpm use.

Biggest issue I see is you'll be adding a lot of weight to the rear of the baja. 22R/RE's are not the lightest 4 cyl around. You'll be needing to change the t-bars and damper rates from what you have now.

The guy, whose name I can't recall, who owns California Chassis Engineering in SFV somewhere used to have a 22R in a baja. Saw it out at El Mirage about 10 years ago. Maybe he still has some/all of the parts ?

My own engine choices:
13B Rotary (turbo'd as a means of muffling it, they're REALLY loud otherwise)
4A-GE Toyota


Well-Known Member
You'd have to check to see if an adapter plate is available for that nissan motor. Also you wouldn't want to use the transmission most likely. Alot of fwd cars are offset, meaning the transmission has a short and a long axle. Also to run it rear engine, it would be backwards so you'd only be able to go forward with your 1 reverse gear. Whether or not it would work with longtravel, or hold up to offroad abuse, or have a low enough r&p ratio for big tires are other concerns....

go here and do a search for 22re: http://www.dune-buggy.com/buggytalk/
One guy on there has a toyota engine that he added a blower to and he runs a bus box, I think his is a rail and not a baja however.

You might also want to look at a turbo 2.3 ford, from an 80s mustang, thunderbird, etc....


Well-Known Member
only the crappies of the crappy cars have uneqal length driveshafts. Most have an intermediate shaft.

why would it have to be backwards in the back? The class 10 cars run honda motors all the time, whats wrong with a bug that had one?

i believe the guy with the 22R and a blower is named nate? He built his own standalone EFI ecu, like me from the bowling and grippo design. really nice guy


Well-Known Member
a transmission for a honda must be configured differently inside than for an air cooled


Well-Known Member
from my understanding (info from a buddy who has an alimicraft), the v6 honda motors spin in the typical direction where as teh 4cilinders spin in the opposite direction. they have a v-tec v6 in their rail. if you are ever in the oceanside area, there is a VW place near B&R buggies (760)722-1266(iv forgotten the name of the place) the guy that works ther has a water cooled bug that is pretty sweat. he knows his stuff. i am also looking at a 20/22R moter to be the power plant for my baja project.


Well-Known Member
yes I think his name is nathan. He used a megasquirt system or something.
Using just the motor will work provided it spins the same way an aircooled motor works, AND you can get an adapter plate for it. Most hondas for example spin the wrong way. How much work/if its possible to get it to spin the right way I am not sure. What im saying is if you use the motor and transaxle from a fwd car, and run it rear engine, then you have the trans facing backwards. So you'd have 5 reverse gears and 1 forward gear. You still would have problems with finding a low enough ring and pinion ratio, and if it would hold up to longtravel, or offroad.


Well-Known Member
The guys that run the Honda four cylinders in their ten cars use either a fortin or mendeola transmission, those transmissions have the ability to flip the ring and pinion, making it possible to once again have 4 or 5 forward gears and one reverse.

As far as your engine choice goes, i think the weight is going to be your biggest concern, other than that, the motor is awesome, and i was considering it for my buggy. Instead i am going to use a motor called an Echotech. It is made by chevy. A friend of mine owns Turn Key Engines, and is selling the complete package for about 4 or 5 thousand, he isnt completly finished with it yet. It comes with a preprogrammed marine grade brain, exhaust w/ mufflers, intake, adapter plate, and a plummed radiator. Basically you hook up the positive to the brain and a fuel line, and you go. It puts out about 180 completly stock, and with a turbo bolted right to the intake manifold (very simple) it puts out 300. Let me know if you are interested, and i will find his number


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i have some sweet pics of a chevy r&d echotech motor. i got the pics at a NASCAR race - the motor was on display at one of the chevy team areas. i'll try and post a pic when i get home from work. that motor looks sooo cool.