1989 TriStar Syncro Project

This beautiful rust free TriStar was found waaay up north in salt free Sweden.  Fast Forward Automotive  handled the importation of this Tri-Star from Sweden into Canada.  I have spent the last half year collecting thoughts and ideas on how to make this the ultimate Transporter.

Project Goals

  • Biggest priority is to have a vehicle that can be returned to stock with minimal work - no permanent modifications that can not be undone at a later time.

  • Daily driver for a family of four.

  • Turbo Diesel Direct Injection - Plenty of torque and good for the environment.

  • Greater ground clearance - for logging roads and off roading

  • Extended expedition service - want to be able to travel 1200km without visiting a fuelling station and carry enough supplies for a week in the outback.

This details the on going project of making my TriStar the Ultimate Family Expedition Vehicle.

Section One: Drive Train

  • Transmission rebuild and upgrade.

  • Drive shaft decoupler installation.

  • 16" tires and wheels.

  • Suspension Upgrade.

Section Two: Engine Installation

Section Time involved
Part I Reasons for upgrading to TDI power. No time at all!
Part II Preparing the TDI motor for installation. 5h00m
Part III Removing the wasserboxer engine. 3h30m
Part IV Preparing the vehicle for the TDI engine. 6h30m
Part V Mounting the TDI engine. 15h45m
Part VI Test driving and bug fixing

Section Three: Expedition Gear

  • Aluminium NATO canopy.

  • HF/VHF radios with dual AS/1729 antenna system.

  • Heated Auxiliary fuel tank.

Chronological sequence of events 

  NOV 2004 15.000km on the TDI install and all is well!
10 MAY 2004 Installed drive shaft decoupler and front locking differential
3 MAY 2004 Finish first big trip - 9.6L / 100km with no major issues on first 2500km
29 APR 2004 Install intercooler system
30 MAR 2004 Went for the first test drive powered by a 1998 Jetta TDI motor
27 FEB 2004 Took delivery of my roof basket / spare tire holder / antenna holder for the NATO canopy.
19 FEB 2004 Finished installing CD/MP3 sound system.
30 JAN 2004 NATO Canopy is finished being painted.
10 JAN 2004 Test fit the NATO canopy and AS/1729 antennas.
4 JAN 2004 My TriStar arrives in Quesnel!  To bad it is -24C and the battery is dead flat.
19 DEC 2003 The Drive Shaft Decoupler arrives.
19 DEC 2003 After some miscommunication between the logistics company and the rail company, the TriStar is finally on a train going across Canada.
5 DEC 2003 The TriStar misses the weekly train across Canada... next one is December 12th. So much for having it in Quesnel BC for Christmas.
5 DEC 2003 The TriStar clears Canada Customs / Transport Canada / CFIA
30 NOV 2003 The TriStar arrives in Halifax, NS
17 NOV 2003 The TriStar is loaded in Gothenburg, Sweden
12 NOV 2003 Have AA Transaxle modify and rebuild the AAN transmission.
22 OCT 2003 Arrange final transportation of TriStar from Frösön, Sweden to Halifax NS along with a note from Transport Canada saying it is OK if it comes in a few days before it's birthday!!!
29 SEP 2003 Have drive train and canopy safely stored away at home.
22 AUG 2003 Arrange to have drive train and canopy sent to Canada in the back of a Syncro Single Cab that Fast Forward Automotive purchased.
2 JUL 2003 Arrange to buy a used AAN transmission and ADH locking front differential in Germany along with an aluminium NATO canopy.
13 JUN 2003 Discover that the TriStar is manufactured December 7, 1988.  This means that it can not come to Canada until December 7, 2003 due to Transport Canada's import regulations.
5 JUN 2003 Arrange to buy a 1989 TriStar in Frösön, Sweden

If you have any questions or comments about this TriStar project, I would love to hear from you!  Please contact me at 

© 2003 - 2004 David Marshall