I know there are lots of car engines that got stuffed into pretty much everything: the Iron Duke was shoved into everything from Camaros to mail trucks, and the original Volkswagen air-cooled flat-four powered everything from Beetles to Buses to Sno-Cats to Airplanes to Zambonis. This other VW engine isn’t going to beat that, as it was in a much smaller set of cars. But the set of cars it was in just makes for a wonderfully pleasing and befuddling group.

Many of you may have already guessed the engine I’m talking about: it’s a fairly conventional cast-iron two-liter inline-four water-cooled engine, and it originally made only around 75 horsepower. It’s known as the EA831, and it was originally developed by Audi for use in the Audi 100 sedan, a car that effectively replaced the much more daring Wankel-powered Ro80 after VW/Audi bought NSU.

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Next, the engine ended up in Volkswagen’s line of larger-than-the-Type 2-vans and trucks, the LT series.

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The Volkswagen LT line is also interesting, because it’s also the only time Volkswagen has ever built a front-engine/rear drive vehicle. Sure, these were cabover vehicles with the engine on the front axle and the driver and passenger effectively sitting on/around it, but it’s still as close as VW ever came to a “traditional” automotive drivetrain layout.

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Things got interesting when this workhorse four-banger got selected to be the powerplant for Porsche’s entry-level sports car, the 924. The 924 took a front-wheel drive transmission from Audi (which, remember, were FWD but longitudinal) and stuck it at the rear to be a transaxle, and connected that to the EA831 engine, which had been massaged with fuel injection and a Porsche designed cylinder head to make 95 HP and then 110 HP (123 in Europe, sans all the smog stuff).

The group gets weirder from here: AMC used this engine with a Weber/Holley carburetor as an option on the Gremlin, and then later the Concord and Spirit, which was really just a re-styled Gremlin.

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AMC also put the weirdo cherry on this weirdo cake by offering this very same engine in their DJ series of Postal Jeeps, just for 1979.

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So, let’s run down the lineup of this group of cars, all unified by the beating iron heart under their hoods:

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• A premium executive sedan (Audi 100)

• Work vans and trucks (Volkswagen LT)

• The entry-level sports car from a legendary name (Porsche 924)

• A weird economy car made from lopping the trunk off a sedan in desperation (AMC Gremlin)

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• A line of mid-level family sedans, coupes, hatchbacks (AMC Concord and Spirit)

• A freaking Mail Jeep (Jeep DJ)

Like I said, other engines ended up in way more things, but when it comes to a limited set of vehicles for one engine, this is a pretty wonderfully diverse group.

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They all have such distinct personalities; some band should take their names from each of these cars (Audie Hundy, LT, Portia Nine to Four, Gremlin, Conk, Spirit, and DJ).

They’d have a very geeky fanbase, I bet. I’ll see if I can book them for my kid’s Bar Mitzvah around 2025 or so.