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Dissecting Miss Daisy

When the guys from Mighty Car Mods decided to build a “sleeper” VW Beetle we knew the result was going to be something special indeed. Affectionally known as “Miss Daisy”, this 1974 Beetle’s appearance is as purposeful as it is deceptive.


No mod cons here. You won’t find anything but bare essentials inside this Beetle’s cabin. A single, multi-purpose gauge dominates the tiny dashboard.


The car’s real surprise lies underneath its rear hood. Instead of an air-cooled VW flat four we find a water cooled flat four from Subaru WRX.


The two engines might share the horizontally opposed, four cylinder configuration but that’s where the similarities end. The VW engine was a decisively old school, naturally aspirated, 1600cc powerplant whereas the Subaru engine sitting in its place is a modern, 16 valve, quad cam, turbocharged, 2500cc motor.


Not immediately noticeable, the turbo is hidden behind a myriad of plumbing.


Being a water-cooled engine, the EJ25 needs a radiator and one was mounted directly behind the firewall. A conical gab between it and the firewall allows air flowing under the car to provide sufficient cooling.


Another view of the radiator with its overflow container on the left.


The engine was installed by Mike Kristen from Custom Bugs and Buses. He specializes in anything VW, including the custom catch can complete with VW hub cap emblems on each side.


Keeping in with the “sleeper” theme, the radiator for the water to air intercooler is hidden from view and mounted horizontally behind the front bumper. A number of holes were drilled in the bumper panel to allow air flow onto the radiator.


A rear-mounted water-to-air intercooler uses water channeled from the front of the car which is then pumped through a network of pipes ensuring intake air temperature is kept nice and cold.


With the engine at the back, the distance from the turbo to the exhaust is minimal, making the whole setup up efficient and producing a great sound in the process!


Haltech’s Elite ECU lives under the back seat alongside a Wideband WB1 controller. The Elite controls variable cam control, boost control (speed and gear), water-to-air intercooler, as well as the drive-by-wire throttle.


Because the original Beetle dash lacks any temperature or pressure gauges we’ve also activated Haltech’s Engine Protection Feature which ensures the engine won’t overheat, overboost or lean out.


Marty and Moog wanted to achieve a tenfold increase in power by doing this engine swap. With a Haltech-powered EJ25 onboard they’ve surpassed their goal and built what is possibly the coolest “sleeper” ever.