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About Aircooled Research

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My name is Matthew Kenney, and I’ve been working on aircooled VWs since I was in high school in the early 70’s. I’ve been building engines and cars since about the late 80’s.

I’m not some famous racer or machinist, nor have I worked with any of the big names in the So-Cal VW scene. I’ve always been happy to do my thing (which is engine building) and kind of keep to my self and the local market… until now. I started building my own engines simply because I did not like the poor workmanship some shops and individuals were turning out. I discovered I could build a real nice mill if the right parts were selected, and it just so happened that the skill of knowing what’s good came from my many years of selling auto parts.

Over the years I built many 1600cc and bigger engines that people used as replacements for their tired 36hp and 40hp engines. Where did those old 36hp and 40hp engines go? You guessed it… they got turned into test engines. Some ideas worked great, some exploded. The parts were nearly free so what the heck was there to lose? I drove these small displacement bombs in most of my cars for nearly 10 years. When 1600cc stroker┬áparts became readily available, I built many different size engines with an almost zero failure rate. That has gotten a bit boring though in the past few years until a friend requested a 36hp engine to be built with a little more “zip” to it. As it turns out, it’s a bigger challenge than what most would think because you just don’t go to your favorite VW place to buy parts… you have to be able to think outside the box a bit and make your own performance parts. The rules are also somewhat different with a small displacement engine as well… bigger is not always better in this case.

Remember what I said at the top of the page about “what’s the point”? Finding that happy medium or “sweet spot” where a 36hp performance engine lives and breathes is what it’s all about. I’m not looking to make big bucks here. The purpose of this website is to fund this research project by selling some quality parts so you too can also build your own 36hp engine. You’ll see step-by-step photo layouts and how-to write-ups, so no secrets here folks. If you’re reading this I hope you come back and buy a few parts!