I’ve always dug the Carat edition of the Vanagon. This top of the line non-Westy version came stacked with all the options and exudes a classy aura, helped by the great 5-spoke blocky wheels and a cladding/bumper combination that makes a more cohesive look. Today’s example is a Weekender, so while it doesn’t have the pop-top, the rear seats fold flat into a bed. Looking at the pictures of the passenger area, it looks so comfortable I kind of just want to use it as my living room. With 150k miles on the original engine and transmission, it still has some good life left in it, but as is the case with Vanagons, a fun engine swap is always a possibility. The non-Westiness helps keep the price extremely reasonable, especially compared to most nice Vanagons you see on the market.
Click for details: 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat on eBay
Model: Vanagon Carat Weekender
Engine: 2.1 liter flat-4
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 150,500 mi
Price: $12,870 Buy It Now
WOW!! GORGEOUS 1991 VW Vanagon Carat Westfalia Weekender! This one is finished in Bordeaux Red Metallic over the Ash Gray interior! Has the desirable Westy Weekender interior that includes the Folding Rear Bed and Table!! Also has the rare Automatic transmission! Clean Carfax and lots of recent service including a FULL New Exhaust system! A/C blows cold! Drives at 75mph like a DREAM! Don’t miss this one!
The Bordeaux Red has always been a favorite. Throw some South African lights on this and a Subaru engine and you’d have a great-looking and simple van that could cruise the highway and still have some campability. Considering that it’s about half the price of a comparable Westy, I’m starting to think I could do without the pop-top.
The autotragic tranny is a 3 speed, not a 4 speed. It’s not as horrible as many people assume it would be, however. It moves these vans around about as well as the manual 4 speed does, but with a lot less work. Just put your foot to the floor and when (if) you eventually reach your desired speed, ease off.
The paint looks exceptionally clean compared to the sporadic crustiness in the engine bay and underside so it’s probably been resprayed. At this price a VERY thorough inspection is necessary. It better be perfect!
Speaking of price, this one is in the stratosphere and dangerously close to pop-top territory. I sold my ’90 Multivan (basically this van with a pop-top and a closet in the back, but white and a manual) with the South Africa front end and E-codes, ultra rare ProjectZwo foglights, 911 Turbo brakes and front seats, extensive suspension upgrades, and 16″ S6 Avus wheels for $3000 more than the ask on this one. If it passes a thorough inspection it is realistically an $8000 van at the most.
I do miss my van. I just wish I had the space and the means to have a second vehicle as they’re just too big, too thirsty, and too slow to work as an ideal daily driver. Still, it’s the most fun vehicle at 30 mph I’ve ever driven.
I love these stupid things. For me the Carat Weekenders are the perfect van. Seating for 7, lots of space to move around with room to spare. Believe it or not these Vans are appreciating. Over the last few years they have increased on value by 10-20% per year. Very rare Tornado Red Vanagons etc are selling at the top of the heap in the mid teens now in similar condition to the van featured here.
Out of the box 20+ years ago they were fine. Maybe even great in their time. They were safe and unique in their day and still are in 2014.
If you get one today you will want to upgrade the brakes, suspension and maybe even the motor. The obvious challenge in finding one worthy of modernization is Vans overall condition. 9/10 Vanagons are dogs.
This van should sell for $10-12k based on recent sales. Sure you can spend less, but you will end up curing the inevitable tin worm and chasing other decades old demons.
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