Test Mules: GoWesty R&D Vehicles

The following write-up is some background info on a couple of our favorite company test vehicles. When it comes to testing prototype engines, new parts, and accessories, our Syncros likes it rough. If you thought these things were just wannabe all-wheel-drive pseudo offroad wannabes, think again. A properly outfitted Syncro can go just about anywhere it damn well pleases. 


These are two GoWesty test vehicles. The white one was raced in six 24 Hours of LeMons track events, and won it’s class. It was then converted to 4WD and raced in the NORRA Mexican 1000 twice, getting class wins both times. The Green one has done NORRA once, coming in a close second in the same class.

Both of these vans are fitted with posi/locking differentials both front and rear, and with a driveshaft decoupler. The viscous coupler has been replaced with a solid shaft. So, when all three knobs on the dash are in, it's just a regular ol' 2WD Vanagon. But when all three knobs are pulled out, and all three green lights come on, she's 100% fully locked up: REAL 4WD. Any one wheel can completely leave the ground without affecting the torque delivery to the other wheels. 

The engines are GoWesty 2700cc waterboxers. The crankshaft is made specifically for this engine out of a solid chunk of steel billet, closely copying the original German crankshaft design, but counter-weighted and with the stroke increased 8.5mm to 84.5mm. Pistons are a GoWesty exclusive: forged JE pistons with a diameter of 100.75mm, which is 6.75mm larger than the original cast 94mm pistons. This engine uses the custom-made cylinders that are larger on the outside by about 4mm. This may seem trivial, but in fact is one of the trickiest things about building a waterboxer with a bore this large. The engine cases and heads require special machining to accommodate the larger outside diameter of the cylinder, which we do in a CNC machine. The exact resulting displacement is 2,693.2cc—I think we'll stop there!

The extremely high-compression ratio of 10:1 and increased displacement required the addition of a knock sensor (to protect the engine) and a freer-flowing exhaust. So we rolled up our sleeves and designed a completely new engine management system. Both vans also run our all-new stainless steel exhaust system, including freer-flowing muffler. Both of these systems are adaptable to all waterboxer engines—a good example of "trickle down" engineering at work!

After rigorous road testing and dynamometer testing, it has proven to be a solid design. The engines in these vans are exactly the same as what we offer to the general public on our web site.

The wheel, tire, and suspension package is very similar GoWesty standard offerings. The wheels are same 15" x 7" alloys we sell on our site. The tires are a bit larger that what we generally sell, these are 30x9.5”. The larger diameter tires eat up some of the low gearing needed for extreme off-roading. To compensate, the front and rear ring and pinion ratios were changed from 4.86:1 to 6.17:1, a change which represents a LOWER gearing of 27%, which more than offsets the increased tire size. To get the overall gearing back in line, three of the five speeds in the transmission were also changed. Low ("granny") gear and first gear were left alone:

6.03:1—Granny and reverse—no change 
3.78:1—First—no change 
1.88:1—Second gear, instead of 2.06 (8.7% HIGHER) 
1.14:1—Third gear, instead of 1.23 (7.3% HIGHER) 
0.70:1—Fourth gear, instead of 0.85 (17.6% HIGHER) 

All this in a rebuilt GoWesty transaxle and rebuilt front differential, with as much of the cast magnesium parts switched to stronger aluminum as possible—and rear axles swapped out for much stronger Porsche 930 Turbo-sized axles and CV joints.

You can bet we'll keep beating on these vans and see what breaks—and fix it, better than new! It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. And all for what, you say? So all of us can go camping with confidence!