Boy, it’s been a bit too long since we looked at a Volkswagen Van. In fact it’s been over a year since I last looked at a Vanagon. For shame! Because while I often lament the lack of good 1980s Volkswagens to consider for these pages, there are predictably two models you can find at any time. One is the Cabriolet.
Okay, admit it. While you tell your Corvette-owning friends that the Cabriolet was a travesty you’d never be seen in, they’re actually kind of neat and certainly have their place. After all, what other cheap manual German convertible can you buy….a Boxster?
The other model that’s ubiquitous with 80s search parameters is the T3. They occupy an interesting subculture within the German automobile ownership community. And once in a while, one pops up that I really take notice of:
Here’s a Westy that needs no qualification: it’s just a badass, well-done camper van. The Chris Corkins engines are a great swap solution, giving more usability and power while staying true with a VW wasserboxer. Pretty much everything (save the tie-dyed tent) is on the short-list of great choices for Vanagons, including the South African grill and lights, lift kit, racks, functional interior and exterior options… make that a long list of great choices. If the seller knows enough to make these mods from these vendors, then he knows what the market is for vans like this, which means this auction could get crazy.
The ultimate apocalypse-buster might be the VW Synchro Westy, but my friend continues to prove that 2WD Westfalias can be capable companions through all types of weather. He has recently reached the American Midwest for the cold snap after a few months in Alaska and Northern Canada, all traversed in a 2WD Vanagon, albeit with a light lift kit. Winter tires on these can clear up connections to their Northern European roots and continue the fun year-round. This stock beauty has less than 70k miles and is fantastic condition for a 25 year-old van. The price is orders of magnitude higher than any other late-80s Volkswagen, but thus is the Vanagon’s market value as well as its worth. And it’s still fractions of a Synchro Westy.
Model: Vanagon Westfalia
Engine: 2.1L inline-4
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Mileage: 67,500 mi
Price: $19,900 Buy It Now
The Volkswagen Type 2 (T3) was the third generation of the Volkswagen Transporter and was marketed under various nameplates worldwide – including as the Transporter or Caravelle in Europe, Microbus in South Africa, and as the Vanagon in North and South America. The T3 was available with amenities such as power steering, air conditioning, power door locks, electrically controlled and heated mirrors, lighted vanity mirrors, and a light above the glove box.
The VW camper vans, converted by Westfalia-Werke in Germany, were discontinued in 2003. They offered tremendous versatility, owing to their pop-top tent roof, and fully-equipped interior including a deployable table, a sink and two-burner stove, as well as a hybrid propane/electric-powered refrigerator. The pop-top contains one bed, and the rear seat folds down to create another. The front seats spin around to face rearwards when camping. The interior also has several storage cabinets.