Mike Drewer - Salt Car Report

05/04/2019 12:00AM


It’s far from standard, but achieving 238kph (148mph) in a VW Beetle is no mean feat and owner Mike Drewer from Adelaide in Australia believes it can go even faster.

Drewer built the ‘chopped’ VW Beetle with a Subaru WRX Turbo power plant specifically to run at Speed Week on the salt lakes at Lake Gairdner in South Australia and achieved close to 150mph earlier this year.

‘The car can definitely go faster, but we need to improve the handling and stability. Driving on a salt lake at speed is not as easy as one would think. There is the loose salt and side winds, and a VW Beetle wasn’t the most stable of cars at around 70mph!

Drewer brought his son Tom back from the USA to drive the car and the former American IMSA Sports Car champion agreed that it was a big challenge. ‘I really had to hang on to the car and use plenty of track. It was slightly frustrating not to actually achieve 150mph, but next year I am sure we will go a whole heap faster’.

As for the involvement of Davies, Craig in the project it has been quite extensive.

Placing a water cooled Subaru engine in a car set up for an air cooled power plant and replacing a 36hp engine with one that is developing around 350hp involves special challenges.

The aluminium radiator is positioned horizontally where the original VW fuel tank was placed and cool air is drawn through it by two Davies Craig electric fans.

A Davies Craig electric water pump replaces the original Subaru unit and provides a number of advantages., namely a slight increase in power and  more importantly providing the ability to control the engine temperature very accurately during  warm up, pre run, and full power phases.

‘I am particularly impressed with the engine temperature control provided by the Davies, Craig electric water pump. Air temperatures at Lake Gairdner can be extreme (up to 40 degrees), and we have to wait in line for our high speed attempts. We need to have sufficient temperature in the engine at the right time and the EWP allows us to achieve this’    

A second Davies Craig electric water pump is used to circulate fluid through multi copper coils in an ice-slurry filled box to the turbo charge cooler to provide the lowest possible engine intake temperature.

‘This is also a great solution for our particular purpose as we didn’t want a normal intercooler hanging out in the airstream. The ice box solution with the electric water pump is great and we can even cool the charge cooler down before we actually start the engine’. 

‘What we have achieved with this car has made for an interesting challenge, and has been a great R&D project tested in the real world in very harsh conditions. The Davies Craig products has come through with flying colours’