Welcome to the stretch project

Otmar with the stretch, AKA: Power Of Two. December on Tioga pass.

Latest Update:

12.4.13 New Chapter for the Stretch! It's time for all electric drive. Details at the Stretchla Blog.

I apologize for the lack of updates. This is the original Stretch site and you can tell it's old, frames are so 1990's! The Stretch was originally converted in 1998. Since it was stretched it's travelled over 145,000 miles around the western states of the USA and enabled many beautiful adventures. The first used TDI melted a piston after 36,000 miles and in early 2010 and I replaced it with a long block from Overland. In spring of 2013 after 28,000 miles the new engine threw a rod putting a big hole in the block. I had no energy or desire to replace it again. The time has come for a major upgrade, have a look and subscribe to the blog linked above in order to get all the latest updates. My hope is that the easy publishing of the blog format will lead to more current updates. At least there you can leave public comments asking for updates.

4.6.06 The AHU TDI at 50 degrees with a 5 speed transaxle out of a 76 Porsche 911 have been running great for over 8000 miles. Great that is, aside from the never ending exhaust cracks. Some things never change. The MIG welder is a pre trip prep tool now. My last fillup (50 gallons of B99) gave a bit over 24 MPG. This was with most of the trip at 65 mph.

7.8.05 TDI install is in progress. Unedited, large pictures are here for now.

12.14.04: I have recently upgraded to the South African big brake kit. Towing 5000 lbs over the passes was too much for the stock brakes. It works great in the front but now the brake balance is terrible.. Looking for solutions in the rear.

I have found a 1.9L TDI from a 97 Jetta, I hope to swap it in soon along with a transaxle out of a 911using a KEP adaptor, all of which I have waiting...

Still no paint, interior, hybrid or air suspension. Too many other things going on...

The Concept:

What is the ultimate vehicle anyway? I grew up with VW busses in the family. They're hard to beat. The one ton capacity, the small exterior size, the large interior, the ability to be fixed with a coat hanger. Of course, it was always important to keep enough coat hangers on hand!

Back in the mid `80s I worked at an independent VW Bus garage. One day a customer brought in a split window stretch bus (`59 & `61 I think). It was so weak it scared me, the roof was cut out and replaced with a non structural fiberglass top. The original drum brakes were, well, original. The bodies were messily welded together with a minimal amount of reinforcing. It was amazing that it held together at all. But it looked cool, and I figured that I could certainly do much better if I were to build one.

At about the same time a friend of mine needed something in which to live at her schools trailer park. We took my `73 bus and a `72 that was lying around the shop and built my first stretch. The two main frame members were reinforced with 4 pieces of .065 wall 1-1/2 square steel tube. The other junction points got some 1/8 steel straps. It got a 2 foot high top with a steel structure and a stressed skin aluminum cover. Once it was together I put it through a good amount of testing including about a foot of clear air under the wheels while jumping the railroad tracks. It held up well. Years later, when my friend was done with it, I adapted a V6 engine out of a `87 Ford Ranger and took it traveling around the western states. It's a good bus, lots of fun to drive but after 11 years it's drawbacks were nagging me to build another one. For a picture of the old stretch, click here.

I loved many things about the old stretch. It's a real icebreaker on the road, people laugh when they see it. I figure that's a good thing. It's hard to park for 5 minutes without meeting new people. It's great for taking eight or ten people on a day outing, quite the party machine. It's also practical when camping. I find that there's a lot less effort needed to pack and organize with the extra space. It's not so big that it can't usually park easily. At 20 feet, it's no longer than a `60s Cadillac. On the other hand, the high top with a radiator on top sacrificed gas mileage and gave it too much of a funky look for my tastes. It also went through an average of one used transaxle per year. 6000+ lb. and 170 ft/lb. of torque from the V6 was just too much for it. The suspension gave a variety of trouble from the heavy load as well. The time had come to do it again, using what I'd learned the first time to improve it.



A3 Engine swap

Electric drive

The donors

Cutting up

Putting together

Suspension and Wheels

Interior and Stereo







Hits since 1.27.03

Last update 12.4.13