1986 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Syncro

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As Syncro Westies become the Holy Grail of campervans, a lot of the ones for sale are all kinds of crazy. Crazy colors, crazy upgrades, and crazy values have characterized the auctions, but today we have a 4WD pop-top Vanagon that flies under the radar in all the right ways. It’s in great condition inside and out, including a repaint last year, but the color brown over tan with black steelies keeps its true value hidden from all except those who can pick out the subtle “4WD” emblems on the front doors. It’s had a recent full tuneup, GoWesty exhaust, cat, and bumpers installed, and all new rubber seals and pop-top canvas. BFGoodrich All-Terrains complete the subtle but eminently capable package. The unknown mileage will raise some questions, but if you know what brown can do for you this no-reserve auction is a great chance at a Syncro Westy that doesn’t break the bank.

Click for details: 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Syncro on eBay

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1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro Hightop

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Following in yesterday’s rough-but-affordable Vanagon Syncro footsteps, we have an interesting DIY-Syncro Camper with a no-reserve auction. It started as a tinop Vanagon GL Syncro but has experienced many surgeries – cosmetic, mechanical, electrical – to make it a much more versatile and reliable van. The Subaru 2.2 is good for speed, the hightop is nice for headroom (there’s no bed in this one) and the Westy kitchen is a huge camping bonus, but what really catches my eye is all of the little aftermarket touches the seller has installed to make this van much less of a headache down the road. GoWesty relays, circuit boards, stainless lines and coolant pipes… these are details that increase confidence that this is a solid Vanagon bet. There are also plenty of less-consequential but still cool pieces coming with it, like insulated curtains, van shower, bike racks, awning, and good-looking Audi 5000 wheels. It shows some exterior blemishes, but nothing bad; they’re like an old climber’s sunspots on his nose and cheeks. This thing was built for adventure and reconstructed for even bigger ones.

Click for details: 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro Hightop on eBay

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1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro Tintop

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The seller of this van affectionately calls it “Big Ugly” after 15 years of rough and tumble ownership. There’s plenty of blemishes and rusty seams to make it not just a clever name, but if you’re not too worried about aesthetics this van has a lot going for it. A Westy kitchenette is installed and fully functional and it runs well. He says it needs a few coolant hoses and possibly other things he doesn’t know about, but if you purchase Big Ugly at the Buy It Now of $12,350 he’ll take it in and get them done along with up to $2k of any other repairs. Bidding is currently closer to $5k right now, so maybe some haggling needs to be done on the phone. Anywhere in that range, it’s a lot cheaper than 95% of the Syncro vans you see.

Click for details: 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on eBay

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1986 Volkswagen DoKa Syncro

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It’s been a while since we’ve featured a crazy low-mile imported 4WD Volkswagen from whoever these folks in Avenel, NJ are that keep bringing these insane examples stateside. Whether it’s Golf Countrys or DoKa Syncros, they have the least traveled and most original forbidden fruit. Today is no exception, with another blue DoKa Syncro with a completely enclosed metal bed cover. Big white steelies complement a the white lower half and contrast the all-business black roof and steel bumpers. It looks brand new because it almost is, with just 15k original miles on the clock (or rather, 24km). It’s as good as they come and is bringing a lot of bidders to play, though still only in the teens as I write this.

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1988 BMW 325ix

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We don’t see much of the 325ix around here (though Carter’s recent 325ix touring was a special treat), as they seem to have mostly died undignified deaths in Colorado and the northeast. This Vermonter has somehow survived without too much damage, not even showing any of the usual rust that appears around the M-Tech II bodykit. It’s covered the better part of 200k miles and has a few flaws (note to the seller: saying that “the car need a power sterring holes fot the power streeing to work again, and the paking brake is not woking now” four lines after “a lot money spent to keep it in top running condition” does not inspire trust. However, this is a rare 5-speed coupe E30 with all wheel drive, so it still warrants a close look.

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1990 Volkswagen T4 Syncro Diesel

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Our love of the T3 Vanagon Syncro has taken up significant blog space here, but sightings of T4s – called Eurovans, Transporters, or Caravelles – with Syncro are exceedingly rare. The only one I’d seen before this was an Executive Package Caravelle boasting private jet-like seating and lots of leather. Today’s T4 Transporter occupies the other end of the spectrum, with a stripped rear interior and metal separation wall behind the two front seats. Judging by the seller’s offer to install a refrigeration unit in the back for $7k, I’m going to guess that at some point it was used for cold transport. The lack of amenities are made up for by options never available in the US: panel sides, 4WD, and diesel power. I don’t need any “REEFER” capabilities (as the seller refers to it) installed, but I see a lot of potential for a go-anywhere camper with great privacy!

Click for details: 1990 Volkswagen T4 Syncro Diesel on eBay

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1988 BMW 325ix

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I’m always interested in clean examples of the 325ix. Rare to begin with, their all-road capability means they’ve often experienced crueler conditions than a standard E30. This example has covered an amazing 248k miles but is a hard-to-find manual coupe. The engine was replaced about 1k miles ago with another M20B25 that has 120k total miles but recently had a top end rebuild. The interior looks good all things considered, with cracked but not ripped seats and an intact dash. The exterior was recently repainted after the common rust areas were professionally repaired, letting the Delphin Gray give off its great subtle luster. With axles and other maintenance items done within the last 50k miles, this seems like the right kind of high-mileage car to pursue, especially given the rare specification.

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2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4WD

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Starting with the 2015 model year, Mercedes-Benz started producing the Sprinter van with four-wheel drive for the US market. While the Sprinter has been one of the ideal, cost-is-no-object adventure vans for a while, the relative lack of 4WD left Ford Sportsvans and Syncro Westies as the true kings of the go-anywhere home on wheels class. Well, that’s all fixed now, and you can spend scores of thousands of dollars on a Mercedes-built, diesel-powered, all-wheels-driving box. This particular 2015 model is the specification I’d want – the 144-inch wheelbase is more manageable in the real world compared to the 170, while the High Roof makes standing up a reality and storage options plentiful. This couple bought it to install a wheelchair lift (available for extra money if you want it) for their son and drive to the mountains, but the high-top wasn’t the right fit for them so they’re selling it with just 2k miles on it.

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1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro

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As I fantasized the other week about rocking a Golf Country into the mountains, I didn’t really account for the limiting factors of a lifted hatchback. Yes, it can probably get you and a couple of friends over and through just about anything, but what about your stuff? Or your other friends? Hatchbacks are certainly known for utility, but when you start talking sleds, camp stoves, extra clothes, and maybe more than 4 people, you’re either going to have the biggest roof rack known to man or have to look at a bigger automobile.

Back, then, to most popular Syncro, the Vanagon! This isn’t a Westy, just a tintop, of which we’ve seen some decent examples before. An all-wheel drive tin box that can carry 7 comfortably, and this one has a burly cargo rack on top that can gather any and all snow toys you need. It’s not as fancy as some nor does it have the pop-top, but that cuts the price by over half. It’s not as immaculate as the Golf Country, with some general interior wear and a rebuilt engine and transmission a few years ago, but it looks pretty nice for 220k miles and sports some quality upgrades like Emu shocks and disc brakes. There’s plenty to do to make it cleaner and personalized, but it’s a great start on a van that could take winter adventures to the next level.

Click for details: 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Golf Country

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As the 25-year importation rule ticks on, unleashing cool new (to us) cars each year, somehow the Golf Country never really crossed my mind as one to wait for. Now that this New Jersey outfit is bringing them in with some regularity, the reality has me fully enticed. El Niño has blessed the PNW with some snow and trips to the mountains are starting to be planned. Taking the M5 up there sounds fun (especially now that he wears mudflaps) but is clearly a bad idea. So I could borrow the household Forester XT to slide through all conditions, but what if I had a Mk2 VW that was just as capable? If these low-mileage Golf Countrys keep coming up on eBay, I might have to clear out yet another parking spot in the driveway for some AWD lifted hatchback fun.

Click for details: 1990 Volkswagen Golf Country on eBay

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