THE VOLKSWAGEN TDI-POWERED, 237-MPH STREAMLINER
Land speed racing is one form of motorsport that, up until modern times, had never been regularly frequented by diesel-powered vehicles. However, over the course of the last two decades the rapid rate of advancements occurring in diesel technology undoubtedly piqued the interest of many land speed enthusiasts. As a result, we’ve seen a variety of compression-ignition engines infiltrate this prestigious sport. How about the Cummins-powered Dodge Dakota from Banks coined the “Sidewinder,” the Duramax-propelled “Mormon Missile,” or the record-holding, twin-engine’d JCB Dieselmax streamliner? And who could forget the 215-mph “Rocket Ranger” furnished with a Hypermax-built 6.0L Power Stroke…
Without question, some truly unique means of propulsion have been used in diesel-powered land speed vehicles. Recently, we came across what is perhaps the most unlikely candidate we’ve ever seen. It’s a streamliner called Double Eagle, and it’s Volkswagen TDI powered—but not by one of the mini-engines that typically come to mind when you picture the VW badge. Instead, brothers Davidson and Doug Adler campaign the unit-injected 5.0L V-10 that once graced the Volkswagen Touareg. Few knew about the 5.0L when it was available in the midsize SUV and even fewer know anything about it now—but so far it’s proven to be a solid foundation to pursue records with.
Partnering with AG Autowerks
As the owners of Adler Land Speed in Southern California, the Adlers—along with Frank Klos—found themselves knee-deep in the process of building a streamliner chassis in 2011. Looking to build something unique, they sourced a Volkswagen 3.0L V-6 TDI and approached Andy Fabbro and Gabe Scott of AG Autowerks—a shop that specializes in all things VW—about juicing it up enough to make them competitive out on the salt. After advising them that the late V-10 diesel would be a much better candidate to start with, the Adlers wasted no time sourcing a takeout engine and transmission. “A week later, they had a V-10,” Fabbro remembered. “And I said to myself: ‘Now we’ve got a platform we can work with.’”
Once the Double Eagle project was officially underway, all chassis, body, and suspension changes were handled by Adler Land Speed, while the folks at AG Autowerks were tasked with integrating the engine. While mounting the V-10 mill was easy enough, the electronic side proved much more time consuming. With the high-tech TDI requiring countless lines of communication between its various control modules, the original intention to built a custom wiring harness was quickly aborted. Instead, most of the engine’s original wiring harness remains. In order to effectively control the Aisin transmission, the factory TCM was reused as well. After separating the OEM transfer case from the transmission, the act of sending power to the rear, quick-change axle called for a one-off combination of a broached sleeve incorporating a standard U-joint and an 18- inch long driveshaft.
VEHICLE: Adler Land Speed Streamliner (“Double Eagle”)
OWNERS: Doug and Davidson Adler
HOMETOWN: Newbury Park, California
ODOMETER: 147,000 miles (engine/transmission)
ENGINE: Volkswagen 5.0L V-10 TDI
FUEL: Fratelli Bosio Race 783 unit injectors with 163-percent over nozzles
AIR: Apex Performance Turbochargers’ twin fixed geometry, internally wastegated BorgWarner K16 turbos with 44mm (inducer) titanium compressor wheels and 55/46mm turbine wheels, dual water-toair intercoolers (one per turbo)
EXHAUST: Custom with a high-flow manifold feeding each turbo
ELECTRONICS: Factory Bosch EDC-16 ECM
TUNING: Kerma TDI custom calibration via Q Pro tuner
TRANSMISSION: Factory Aisin six-speed automatic and TCM, custom 18-inch driveshaft to rear quickchange axle
HORSEPOWER: 390 hp (est.)
TORQUE: 795 lb-ft (chassis dyno)
TIRES: 22x4x17 Goodyear Eagles (front), 28x5x15 Goodyear Eagles (rear), rated to 300+ mph
AXLES: Speedway Engineering custom-narrowed quick change (rear)
SUSPENSION/STEERING: Traditional four-link (rear) located via panhard bar, adjustable Bilstein coil overs, rigid custom anti-roll bar, adjustable trailing arm (front) with inline steering controlled by Schroeder steering box and bell crank.
SAFETY/BRAKING: DJ Safety parachute (to 150 mph), Wilwood brakes with Dynalite calipers
The 795 LB-FT Package
Though the 147,000-mile engine has been left completely alone, the factory injectors were replaced with a set of flow-tested units equipped with Bosio Race 783 nozzles from Kerma TDI. Matching the added fueling are a pair of 44mm, fixed geometry BorgWarner K16 turbos built by Apex Performance Turbochargers. The boosted air is dramatically cooled via dual water-to-air intercoolers before entering the engine. All ECM and TCM tweaks are performed by Kerma TDI, and the streamliner’s biggest tune sends 795 lb-ft of torque to the wheels.
World’s Fastest VW Racer
After a period of trial and error that included a failed oil cooler, two blown factory turbochargers, and a best of 201 mph, the Double Eagle team set a record on September 17, 2017. While participating in the 31st annual World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Davidson Adler piloted the one-ofa- kind streamliner to a 237-mph exit speed— making it the fastest Volkswagen racer in the world. Even more promising was the fact that a mild ECM tune was used on the record-setting pass—indicative that the powertrain has a lot more left in it.
Looking to the Future
According to Andy Fabbro, 250 to 255 mph is achievable in the streamliner’s current state. However, a much bigger plan may be in the works: becoming the world’s fastest diesel streamliner. Being that Double Eagle’s chassis is loosely based on a design that’s already gone more than 400 mph, there is no reason to doubt it has what it takes to give the current Bonneville record holder of 317 mph a run for its money.