Volkswagen TDI Powered: 1970 Ford F-100

We often hear, “Drop an SBC in it” or “Drop a Hayabusa in it”, but rarely does the phrase “Drop a TDI in it” come up here at Barn Finds. Yet, here we are. This 1970 Ford F-100 with a VW TDI engine is one of the most unusual transplants that I have seen and it can be found listed here on eBay. It’s located in Aurora, Indiana and there is a $9,000 buy-it-now price and the current bid is $2,150.

The fifth-generation F-Series Ford pickup market is pretty hot right now, but what market isn’t? Whenever I try to sell a vehicle, that’s a good indicator of a cold market… This truck was apparently restored six years ago but rust is once again rearing its ugly head and never-ceasing march. I honed my welding skills on a 1969 Ford F-250 that was a mere decade old when it had rust holes in it even though it had been “Ziebart” protected.

From a few feet away this truck looks absolutely fantastic, and kudos to the seller for being honest in providing a ton of great photos, both overall and many detail photos. Nice work! Having restored a truck basically just like this one I wouldn’t be afraid to do it again, but I’m weird. I’d rather work on something that I have experience with. This truck needs a few weekends worth of work on the rust and related bodywork, underneath, too, but it’s all fixable. If I could restore one at age 17 anyone can.

The interior needs a little cosmetic work but mainly a new seat cover. You can see the floor shifter for the manual transmission but this isn’t a Ford unit, are you sitting down? It’s a Toyota 5-speed manual transmission, as is the flywheel, clutch, throwout bearing, etc. I know, crazy but very creative. There is still work to do, a custom speedometer cable was made but it’s broken so a new one will need to be fabricated and installed. The factory gauges aren’t connected but there are accessory gauges under the dash that work.

Here’s the real hub-bub, a 1.9L VW TDI engine. Apparently, this truck had Ford’s 300 cubic-inch inline-six originally. They say that it cruises at 80 and gets 33 mpg, I’m sure about double what the old six-cylinder got for mileage. What’s the craziest drivetrain swap that you’ve ever done?



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  1. alphasud Member

    When I was a kid one of the farmers was driving a late 60’s F100 with a Mercedes diesel. I believe it was a N/A 3 liter 5cyl. Man that truck was slow….TDI engines are pretty reliable and make good power especially when modified. I would be yearning for the 300 six if it were mine.

    Like 11
  2. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    This sounds like an adaptation you’d find in Cuba-as the old saying goes, “Necessity is a mother..” It’s not unusual there to find classic ‘50’s and ‘60’s Detroit Iron with a Lada or Skoda drivetrain…and a LOT of metal patches but they keep them running,I.e., a cabbie driving a primo looking (at 15 feet away) ‘49 Buick and told his tourist passenger he was doing it to supplement his regular day job-as a doctor at a nearby hospital…

    Like 10
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Closer to home, a couple years ago at the Reno-Tahoe Airport I spotted a “pristine” AMC Pacer sitting on a Chevy S-10 4×4 chassis and drivetrain…have a picture of it but I dunno how to upload!

      Like 2
  3. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

    Well I put a Norton thumper on a schwinn-wizzer frame – but that probably doesn’t count

    Like 14

    I once put a Toyota 4cyl auto in a Vega. a good combo really. I saw a Toyota 4 installed in a 1970 Road Runner….really! Not a good combo.

    Like 5
    • JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

      Just remembered a friend installed a 1958 348 Chevy with trips and a 4spd. in a 1946 International KB1, that bugger would honk but it steered like um… a very difficult thing to steer.

      Like 10
  5. Howard A Member

    I know the country isn’t in a laughing mood, but this would make a great April Fools joke. I mean, this has got to tear it, a 1.9 diesel in a full size pickup? Did I read that right? Cukoo, cukoo( spinning finger around ear) Ok, I don’t ever want to thwart anyone’s initiative, but what were they thinking? Maybe in a Ranger, but a waste of everything. 80 mph? In a week maybe. Shame, it was a nice truck. And for the record, you don’t buy a truck like this for gas mileage. Properly geared, a F.I. 4.9 could deliver 20’s easy.

    Like 18
    • Martin

      They thought it through and knew a bit more about VW TDI’s than you apparently. They are a popular swap for some surprisingly large vehicles, and easy to add power.

      Like 7
      • Howard A Member

        Oh please, I drove semi’s with small diesel motors, I know what I’m talking about.

        Like 15
      • GCS Member

        I like it. I don’t know how much torque it would have but if you’re not in a hurry, not using it as a beater to haul, then it’s cool.

        Like 2
    • Martin

      I also drove semi trucks with small motors for 20 years, whatever that has to do with it. You clearly did no research into the TDi’s at all, and you have no idea what you are talking about. Do some reading.

      Like 8
  6. moosie moosie

    413 Chrysler & Torqueflite in a 55 T-Bird, the driveshaft was maybe a foot long.

    Like 7
  7. Evan

    I dunno… if it came with the 240-inch six, that only has 150 *gross* horsepower, so that’s maybe 120 net? I don’t know that the TDI is that much lower.

    Like 4
    • NS Gray

      Actually, the ad says “the front coil springs to lower it due to the decreased weight on the front axle with the giant V8 removed.” (So it seems the original engine was not an inline 6 after all…

      Like 2
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    Another feature in the ‘You Gotta Be Kidding’ file. Maybe, as Howard suggested, it’s an April Fools joke. Nice truck but the last thing I would’ve done would be to perform a swap like this. Well, maybe dropping in an SBC would’ve prompted a lot of my friends to bring out the Tar’N’Feathers. I look at this and think: What was wrong with the 300? And if it was broken, why not get another 300? Nice truck otherwise but if it came my direction the engine would be pulled and the proper Ford unit dropped in. I wouldn’t have to wear nearly as big of a paper sack over my head…

    Like 18
    • Big Mike

      I got a friend, who’s nick name is “Bubba”, he is running around in a 67 F100, that as a 400 SBC in it, and it runs great.

      Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I have no doubt that the 400 runs great; the one in my ’79 GMC was very good. Personally I wouldn’t have dropped that engine into my Ford but it wasn’t my truck, and we still live in a country where we are free to run what we brung…

        Like 3
  9. CCFisher

    The 1.9 TDI is either 90HP/155 lb-ft or 100HP/177 lb-ft. Believe it or not, the HP is not far off from the original 300 (don’t let the gross HP figures fool you), but the torque is weak in comparison. Still, by the time this thing gets to the staging area, the drag race is over.

    Like 6
    • Chunk

      The 1.9 TDi is one of the easiest engines to modify ever. 150hp and 300 lb/ft can be easily achieved with a tune, larger injectors, larger exhaust, and a cold air intake. It’ll walk your 300 I-6 like a dog all week long and twice on Sundays without needing to stop for fuel.

      Like 11
      • Gary S.

        Yeah but as with most foreign made probably costs triple what the six costs to build.

        Like 4
      • Gary S.

        Also the 300 six from 65 to 72 had 170bhp and 283 ft lbs torque stock. The 1.9 has 100 hp and 177 ft lbs torque stock.So if you modified the 300 still would out power the VW.

        Like 9
    • Howard A Member

      Plus, I think many may forget something called “power to weight” ratio. For example, a 1500 pound car with a 500hp. motor, would be a 3 to 1 ratio, pretty fast. Conversely, a 4000 pound truck with 100 hp, well, you can do the math.

      Like 4
      • Howard A Member

        Wait, well, maybe not 3 to 1, .333 to 1, anyway, you get the idea.

        Like 2
  10. Gaspumpchas

    Disclaimer: I’m a ford guy but I like em all. I had an 88 f150 4×4, that looked great but it broke down every time I used it. I even stopped taking the dog because I didn’t want to have to make the pooch walk home. The only thing on this truck that never gave me any trouble was the 300 cube six banger. Would climb the side of a building when it wasn’t busted. Point I was trying to make was it was a gas hog beyond belief. I bet it didn’t get 8 mpg.Frame rusted out and sold it for $300. The guy that bought it parked it in his yard and a tree fell on it, and the ins company paid him an obscene amount of scratch for it!! Go figure. I’m self quarantined and thought you guys would enjoy some tales of woe,
    Be safe wash your hands

    Like 24
    • Johnny Cuda

      Gaspumpchas – Be well sir. I always enjoy your comments. Stay safe to all the Barnfinders out there!

      Like 10
  11. Jack M.

    When money was tight in the late ‘80s, the 4 speed went in my 1978 Z28. The engine also had a ton of miles on it. My buddy had just bought a low mileage 1979 Buick with an Oldsmobile 403 in it that a lady drove under a tractor trailer and turned it into a convertible. We took the engine and transmission out of it and put it in my Z28. We used factory engine mounts for a Trans Am. We changed the 3:73 rear end to 3:08s to keep the revs down. That car had 320 ft/lbs of torque and could do the best burn outs. It would also cruise all day at 90 mph.

    Like 8
  12. CCFisher

    When this quarantine is over, I bet we see lots of Frankenstein creations like this.

    Like 13
  13. Richie Rich

    Is that an ammo box under the hood? Nice touch!

    Like 5
    • Rich Rivers

      Those make great electrical fuse box holders and central wiring connector protectors.

      Like 2
  14. Spridget

    I think all those complaining about this swap should remember that pickups of this era, be they Ford or Chevy, straight-six or V8 powered, are common as dirt. Even if this swap is a little nonsensical, I don’t think it’s some great travesty that one of these trucks isn’t bone-stock original.

    Like 6
    • BobMck Member

      I have to totally agree with you. If someone doesn’t like it, than don’t buy it.

      Like 4
  15. Sheffieldcortinacentre

    I don’t care how good it fits or how good it is on fuel, diesel is for tractors & semi’s.

    There’s more to life than mpg!

    Like 10
    • Howard A Member


      Like 9
    • Rich Rivers

      I used to think that way too. Cummins TD’s changed my mind. Currently building a 4bt powered 70 W250 now. Going from 4-6 mpg to approx 28-30. Spend days off road and that becomes serious.

      Like 4
    • taxijohn

      Not when you are strapped for cash & fuel is over £5.50/gal uk price!

      Like 2
  16. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I like the bumpside F100s having had a ’72 that was a good, dependable pickup. Mine had a 302 with 3-on-the-tree which made for a nice driver with decent MPG. This is a good-looking truck but I wouldn’t want it with that VW mill in it; no way. I don’t know if the seller will get what he’s asking; purists probably won’t be interested at that price. I wonder if he’d be better off yanking that motor and trans and selling it as a roller. Or source a Ford engine/trans combo and do it right. A big block would make it considerably more desirable.

    Like 4
  17. ThisGuy

    Looking under that hood this is definitely an Indiana truck. Probably completely rusted from the ground up, that’s what happens when they sit out behind the barn.
    Doesn’t matter how much lipstick you put on, it’s still a pig

    Like 3
  18. Ken Carney

    392 hemi in a ’61 Valiant. Hoo boy did
    that thing get me in trouble! Wound up
    selling it to a friend of Dad’s who ran it at
    the Assumption Dragway in Assumption,
    Illinois. He ran it in the B/MP class and
    it would run 12s all day long. Wonder if it’s still around somewhere.

    Like 5
  19. Brad

    I have a 1979 F150 4×4 SuperCab with a 3.0 Mercedes Turbodiesel (OM606.962). 225hp and 300 ft-lbs, 22 mpg. Way better than the malaise 400 that was in it, plus it’s smog exempt in CA now.

    Like 4
  20. Duaney Member

    Diesel swap not a bad idea, but a Cummins would have made sense.

    Like 4
  21. PairsNPaint

    Had a friend back in the ’70’s that put an RX-3 Wankel in a ’67 Sprite. But who didn’t do crazy swaps into Sprites?

    Like 2
  22. Charles Moorehead

    Wow admire the ingenuity BUT what a waste of a nice vintage Ford !!!!
    I really do not like Ford pickups with 6cly but this is way to WEIRD!
    So Sad!

    Like 1
  23. Chuck Simons

    I don’t use my p/u for gas mileage, or drag racing. I use it to haul and tow. A 1.9? In an F100? Hobble the horse.

    Like 5
  24. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I personally have never done this type of swap. Meaning one brand to another, but I did own a 41 Chevy 1/2 ton pickup that someone else put a 392 Chrysler hemi in. It was a cool truck, and fairly fast, but not really practical.
    When in high school a friend worked all summer at a saw mill to buy a 39 Chevy coupe with a Olds engine connected to a Jag transmission.
    My dad called these vehicles “abominations” and wouldn’t even allow one on his farm. Which was a shame since I had a non running 35 Chevy standard that I would have loved to put a big V8 in.
    God bless America

    Like 3
  25. Big Art

    I Installed a complete GM Chassie on a 1958 Ford Edsil. Did all the wor in my Back Yard….

    Like 2
  26. Claudio

    I have had the opportunity to visit cuba on multiple occasions
    Theses cubans drop diesel engines in anything
    Isuzu hyundai any diesel is good enough to power their old american jalopies
    A taxi driver brought us from havana to varadero with a stick shift diesel in a 50 something ford crestline 4 door with our tandem bike half hanging from the trunk
    Great people
    Great place to be
    Too bad this virus is tying us down
    The sun will shine again

    Like 1
  27. sidney Member

    In Md in 68-70 there was a farmer who put a Allis-Chalmers diesel in a 1957 Chevy, he ran the exhaust pipe out through the rear fender, wasn’t real pretty but it did what he wanted it to do. I’m not sure what tranny he used, but it moved him from A to B! American ingenuity at it’s best!

    Like 2
  28. Todd Fitch Staff

    Whoa, Nelly! Interesting find, and love the engine-swap stories / debates / grenade throwing that ensued. Not mine but I did hear about a K-car with a Peugot diesel, and some crazy swaps on those big ’50s cars in Cuba. I mean if you’re well into a case of Shlitz and you’re staring at your old Ford that threw a rod through the block and your kid’s wrecked Jetta, next thing you know it’s morning and you’re past the point of no return.

    Like 3
    • CVPanther Member

      Lol… Thanks, Todd. Best comment in this thread.

      Like 1
  29. Russell Ashley

    My first thought when I read this was I wonder if this truck belongs to the person who shortened that 56 Chevy that I saw in the last Barn Finds issue. Whoever did this seems to be on the same wave length with that person.

    Like 1

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