Subaru Reverse Drive Transmission

The Problem

When Ferdinand Porsche was asked to design a utilitarian “People’s car”, he could not have guessed how wildly successful the Volkswagen beetle, and its commercial variant, the Kombi, would become, or the passion they would generate among enthusiasts, who are now using these vehicles in ways the manufacturer could never have envisaged. Some of them are being raced and rallied, some have been converted into mobile homes, and some have been lovingly restored for the concourse show circuit. But under stresses they were never designed to handle , the old engine and transmission set ups just haven’t been strong or reliable enough. The older VW “dak daks” use a boxer style engine, rear wheel drive, and have barely enough power in stock form to blow the froth off a cappuccino. This has been a source of frustration for owners of the old VWs, who have been installing more powerful engines or tuning the old ones only to break the old style gearboxes with heartbreaking frequency.

The Obstacle

An upgraded gearbox seemed to be the answer, but there were few viable options. The VW rear engine bay, designed to accommodate a flat-four engine and transaxle, limited choice of replacement. The obvious candidates were Porsche and Subaru. Porsche is the easiest conversion, and works well, but is prohibitively expensive. That left the modern day Subaru, with its boxer engine, and in the turbo models, enough power to give you whiplash if you’re not braced when the go pedal is pressed, coupled with a gearbox able to handle the power. But the Subaru used a front mounted engine and transaxle, with All Wheel Drive. You have to get rid of the center diff for a start, and even then, if you stuck any powerful engine mated to a modified box from a WRX into the rear of a VW beetle or Kombi, the car might well go like a scalded cat, but backwards. There was simply no manufacturer building modern gearboxes designed for rear-wheel drive cars, other than Porsche.

The Inspiration

Enter Todd Triebler, AKA “The Problem Solver”

Todd Triebler has been a passionate VW man all his adult life, and a keen dune buggy driver, running a Subaru WRX engine in his VW buggy. As with all such conversions though he was constantly breaking gearboxes, and there was no existing box other than the very expensive Porsche strong enough for the purpose. Hardly anyone made rear wheel drive gearboxes. The need to solve this problem drove him to look more closely at the Subaru AWD transaxle. And that’s when he had a flash of genius.

There was the pinion gear, rotating clockwise, meshed with the crown wheel, which turned counter clockwise. On a rear wheel drive car this would result in the wheels being driven counter clockwise, pulling the car backwards. There seemed to be no way around this. Todd’s stroke of genius was in seeing that if the crown wheel could be flipped so that it meshed with the pinion on the other side, then the crown wheel rotation would also be clockwise, the same as the pinion. The modified VW would be pushed forward rather than dragged backwards.

Having cracked the central core of the problem, the rest was R & D, then machining and rebuilding parts of the gearbox to convert it into a drop-in 2-wheel, rear drive box, and finding a gear engineering factory to cut the reverse crown wheel and pinion set up. Now all Tod needed was an expert Subaru gearbox builder to put the conversion kits together.

The Production Solution

Enter All Drive Subaroo and Subaru Gearboxes Australia. Todd first came to us in 2010 with his ideas and a proposition to develop and assemble his kits for shipping locally and internationally. All Drive Subaroo had the specialist expertise required for the job, and experience in the logistics of shipping gearboxes and engines around the world. It was an ideal partnership, and we have been working together on the project continuously since then, helping to develop and implement the design, and assemble and freight the products. Tod manufactures the kits in our Peakhurst factory, and we assemble all gearboxes for the Australian market.

The result is a well proven kit that has enjoyed great success here and internationally, particularly in the US market, with sales growing week by week.

Whatever your requirements, we can take care of them without delay on 02 9915 9900

Available Products

Rear drive conversion kit

If you have your own Subaru gearbox ready for conversion you can buy the reverse drive ring gear and pinion kit ready for installation to your VW or buggy. These kits are produced exclusively by Subarugears and are made from high quality billet steel. Detailed instructions on how to prepare and modify the donor gearbox for the conversion are available online, as well as a video.

This conversion kit is available for all 5MT gearboxes, and is now available also for the 6-speed cable shift box. It includes the two conversion flanges, ring gear, pinion and shaft, and AWD to 2WD lock.
These come in 3.9, 4.1, 4.4, and 4.86 final drive ratios

Subaru 5 speed gearbox

The Subaru 5 speed gearbox is a modern, lightweight, compact transaxle used in WRX and Liberty sedans, rated up to 206kw (280hp) in factory STi form and up to 500Kw with after-market gears, making them a great choice for high boost motorsport applications as well as everyday motoring.

The reversed crown wheel and pinion ensures long life and silent running as designed. All Limited Slip Differentials work with the Subarugears reversed ring and pinion. Pictured is a box with the reversed ring gear and pinon fitted. 6-speed conversions are also now available.

Subamount engine and transmission mounts for VW

Mount any Subaru EJ, EG, EZ or FA engine and Subaru transmission to your Beetle, Karmann Ghia, Thing or buggy. This mount positions your driveline perfectly with the minimum clearance to the torsion bar and to frame horns. Suitable for IRS and non-IRS pan frame horn shapes.

Use the lower mounting hole to have your twin cam engine at standard driveline height - use standard Subaflanges and 15 5/8" axles. A Kafer brace can be attached to the upper mount holes to aid in supporting the weight and torque of your driveline.

For beetle builds with quad cam engines only, use the upper mounting hole to have your driveline at a lowered height - use extended Subaflanges and custom shortened axles. This will require you to also use a Kafer brace on the lower holes to support the weight and torque of your driveline.


Convert Subaru stub axles to VW or Porsche CV joints.
Standard and Extended Version - most applications. Fit 5MT, 6MT and R160 to R180 differentials.

The standard version places CV joints in their standard location. The installed face to face width is 315mm vs Kombi 286mm. It uses 15 5/8" (396.87mm) Kombi axles & CV's in Beetle, Karmann Ghia, Kombi & Vanagon/Bulli/T25/T3. The extended version is only for only beetles with quad cam engines and places the CV joints outboard of the frame horns. You can source shortened axles from your local axle shop.

Subastub Axles

For use in 5 speed TY755/T757/TY758, 6 speed TY751/756 and 6 speed STi TY85 transmissions. These allow you to fit stub axles into existing seals plus fit Subaflanges.

Subaru Gearboxes Australia - Meeting Your Expectations

From desert to racetrack to boulevarde, Subaru Gearboxes Australia and Subarurgears have helped produce an array of custom car and buggy designs that regularly win trophies. We are passionately committed to the motorsport and custom car segment of the auto market. Below are just a few examples around the world of custom car builds using a variety of Subarugears and ADS engine and transmission combinations.

12 months ago this buggy and another just like it competed in the NORRA 1000 rally from San Diego to Mexico and came first and second in class before being driven 9000 miles plus across the USA and back. Both are Ej25 Subarugears 5 speed transmission cars.

A Subarugears / Subatronics Manxter getting mocked up and built, using the FA20T engine, Subaru’s latest, and the stock Subaru ECU.

The quad cam turbo fits into the beetle so nicely with our extended Subaflanges.

A race Manxter being converted to street legal for dual-purpose. Subarugears and All Drive Subaroo thrive on challenges.

Manxter with air cooled VW engine, adaptor plate and flywheel plus Subarugears 5 speed transmission.

The Tommytiger EJ22 Subarugears 5 speed beetle in Germany. 160km/h on the Autobahn is no problem for this combination, keeping up with the fast German traffic

Two Subarugears 5 speed cars on the Manx Club ‘’Manx on the banks’’ in OBX, NC USA recently. There were 3 Subarugears cars there this year I believe. Both of these had already crossed the USA and climbed Pike’s Peak.

Rick’s beautiful EJ25 Subarugears buggy in N.J. USA. Rick was so impressed with how this performs, he built an EJ25 Subarugears 5 speed Baja bug as well.

Full VW Shop in France built this awesome WRX-based 300hp+ turbo engined, AWD dual cab Kombi. Runs a Subaru r160 rear differential upside down at the front. The AWD power delivery is smooth and tractable.




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