Tuesday, June 23, 2015

5k: Renesis Power: 1970 Volkswagen Beetle

For some reason, the Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle seems to attract Hillbillies like the Hot Pockets freezer section at your local Walmart.  After the freezer door opens, and the banjos come out, strange stuff happens.  Strange like putting a Renesis Wankel from a Mazda RX-8 into the back of a Volkswagen.  Find this 1970 Volkswagen Beetle with 13B-MSP power offered for $6,000 in San Diego, CA via craigslist.  Tip from FuelTruck.

Gone is the original air cooled flat-4 and in its place is a 1.3 liter Mazda 13B-multi-side-power "Renesis" rotary engine.  The Renesis was the final evolution of Mazda's dabbling with the spinning fuel burners and was second only to the turbocharged 13B from the RX-7 in terms of power.  It was, however, more fuel efficient and better on emissions.  Prices for RX-8s couldn't be better today, so yanking the Renesis and putting it in your Beetle does make some sense...but given the prevalence of RX-8 engine failure, I had always assumed I'd see a Type 1 powered RX-8 first.  With 247 horsepower (or 212 if it came from an automatic transmission equipped RX-8), this type 1 should move around nicely.

See a better place for a used rotary engine? tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. Some people really love sticking their wankel where it doesn't belong.

  2. Someday someone's gonna put a Renesis in a Genesis.

  3. Banjo, did you say banjo?


    1. Another banjo hero/hero of the banjo.


  4. Captain Pedantic here, the 2006+ auto had a 6 port with 212bhp. '04-'05 autos had a 4 port that supplied 189-ish bhp depending on who you ask and believe it or not, slightly more torques.

    I don't have a clue whether the engine in this thing is a 4 port or a 6 port, typically the 6 ports have more vac lines due to the APV/VDI (the 4 port only has the SSV). One way to tell would be to look at the dash cluster in the car. Redline at 9k = 6 port, redline at ~7k = 4 port.

    These things run hot, I'd like to see the cooling setup, and where they put the twin-oil-coolers that these came with from the factory (in 6 port trim).

    I'd also like to see more on the inside.

    And I'd like to see a warm compression test, normalized to 250rpm, from someone with the right compression tester from a rotary (standard compression testers won't give an accurate per-rotor-face reading).

    Last, these live on oil, under accel and braking with the thing in backwards, I'm wondering how the flow will be to the MOP and other oil-pressure-dependent parts of the engine.

    IF they did this right, it could potentially be a screamer... I'd like to see/hear it run.

  5. DT, I must know more about the RX8. I knew that they were tough on oil and fuel but I know nothing about common failure. Could you possibly enlighten us with a post? I secretly (until now) have always wanted one.

    1. As long as you get one that's had its engine replaced by Mazda and it has under 100k miles, enjoy it. I always saw the rotary like an expensive car with a timing belt. Expect to replace the engine every 10 years or 100k miles, for around $2000. For engine longevity, you can gut the cat, crank the MOP tables in Access Tuner Race (Cobb Access Port is required) (MOP = metering oil pump - aka the thing that handles lubricating the apex seals), run idemitsu premix every tank, run the good starter, redline-a-day, decarb every oil change, constantly add oil (2qt between changes), NEVER RUN SYNTHETIC OIL, and generally flog the crap out of it.

      The problem with the cars isn't the cars themselves, it's owners who don't understand that owning a rotary is different than owning a piston engine'd car. Thus, you can find low compression examples that are still in great shape and fully loaded but need an engine for pennies now a'days.

      It's an awesome car, think of it as a heavy Miata with a roof and a back seat. I loved mine, I only sold it because I had performed the above modifications and realized it would never pass smog when I moved back to CA a few years ago. As far as I know my former car is still in its 3rd owner's hands, and he's loving every minute of it. He premixes.

      I think if you're a gearhead / amateur grease monkey with an engine hoist, there's no better deal out there right now in the sports car world. Just go into it with the right mindset and expect to spend $2k on the thing every 10 years. And throw what you know about engine maintenance out the door. They're still a Mazda, so the components of the car are solid - expect above average reliability from everything except the engine.

      Man, I miss my RX8.

      RX8 club is a fantastic resource.

  6. Ryan, your wisdom is truly appreciated.


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