1968 Camaro TDI Is A 40 MPG Turbodiesel Hot Rod



The world of muscle cars is full of big cars with massive motors with as much displacement as the soda aisle at your local grocery store. But big engines aren’t as cool as they used to be, and Americans are increasingly turned on to the idea of turbodiesel engines, and not just for their new cars. In the grand tradition of hot rodding, somebody has installed a 1.9 liter Volkswagen TDI engine into a 1968 Camaro. Some might cry heresy, and others might wonder what’s the point. Me? I’m just pissed somebody beat me to the punch.

Seriously, the Volkswagen 1.9 liter TDI engine is both durable and packing a good bit of performance potential…if you know what you’re doing. The guy who built this badass blacked-out Camaro certainly did, somehow splicing the TDI’s wiring harness into the Camaros. After a deal to turn this ‘68 Camaro into a drag car fell through, the owner was left with two options; scrap it, or keep it. He obviously opted to keep the Camaro, but lacked a proper V8 to put under the hood, which is where the turbodiesel motor enters the equation.


Make no mistake, this motor isn’t going to set the streets on fire, as in stock form it made between 105 and 130 horsepower-ish. With some new injectors, a bigger turbo, tuning, and a few other improvements, this tiny motor could easily push out 200 horsepower…which still isn’t that much. But the torque, oh god the torque. Despite displacing less than a two-liter bottle of soda, this engine can crank out 400 ft-lbs of torque when properly tuned, and still glide along the highway at 40 MPG all day.

What’s not to love?

To top it all off, it even appears to have a manual transmission for some gratifying shift-for-yourself action . There’s so much win in this eBay ad, I’m not even going to question the $22,390 asking price. I’d rather rock this flat black turbodiesel beast all day than a twice-as-powerful 5th generation Camaro V6. The cool factor is just off the charts, and I can imagine all the sputtering and spinning heads when the little TDI fires up and coughs up black smoke from the back.

Blowing minds and racking up big MPGs, that’s what this turbodiesel Camaro is all about.

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Jason Carpp

    A turbodiesel powered Camaro? Why the hell didn’t anyone else think about that before?! I know why. Because to many people, sports cars and diesel engines, don’t usually go together. I believe that it can, if done properly. I’d love to see a 1st gen Camaro, or possibly, a Firebird Trans Am with a diesel engine. I’m thinking perhaps a Mercedes-Benz Turbodiesel from a 300SD, or a new 2.8 litre Duramax 4 cylinder turbodiesel. I can think of a number of vehicles that could use a diesel transplant. If it can be done correctly, it should be able to run reliably and safely.

  • Tim Cleland

    I like it, but I think I’d have gone with an 5.7L LS1 and T-56 6-speed combo with tall rear gears (e.g. 3.23) to get 34-35 mpg (roughly the same fuel price-wise, factoring in the price of diesel) while still having the muscle car “wow” and keeping it in the Chevy family. Another alternative would have been the 5.3L LS4 which has “Displacement on Demand” (half the cylinders shut off when cruising).

  • Sean McCloy

    Nice but I have to say since the introduction of the volt and other hybrid models the 2nd gen Prius has gotten very affordable. I got a 05 175K miles for $6K so far so good care is delivering on its way to 200K miles. Remember Prius is not like most cars it has a computer that does not allow the teen to dog the car out so the car should have been driven responsibly meaning less likely to have the issues other rides might. Compared to a 20mpg car (national average) just drive this car 70K miles and it will pay for itself in fuel savings alone. I have 2 and one even has a tow hitch we use for all sorts of applications. I am about to hack the 07 by taking the rear seats out and build a frame so I can hang a hammock in the car. No better rest than sleeping in a hammock you have cool air on your back rather than a hot mattress. It is my intention to take the car on a road trip I plan to practice everything at home first to make sure I am not entering into something that can’t work.