I like older cars that are loved, maintained, and well-used in the manner they were built for. This means that high mileage is, to me, a badge of honor, and replaced and upgrades parts are more a sign of perseverance and attention than decay. Like my old cars, this ’91 Westy appears to me as a shining example of just how good 200k+ miles can look. Sure, there are some stone chips and patina, and the engine and transmission have had to be replaced, but from the wheels to the tent and all through the inside it looks a great, functional adventure van. Instead of the 2.1-liter gas engine, it now has a 1.9-liter TDI conversion that was truly done right, with some nice engine mods along with a re-geared transmission and a Peloquin differential to resist those annoying one-wheel spins in traction-deficient situations. The condition and upgrades more than offset the high odometer reading, so the auction is starting at a strong $29k.
The E12 5-series is kind of like the E21 3-series, being the first of its name but not quite as cool as the Bavaria/2002s before them, nor as desired as the E28/E30s that succeeded them. This is a pretty sweet example though that has been subtly updated over time so that after nearly 35 years and over 200k miles, it still looks and runs great. The original 2.8-liter inline-6 has been replaced with a stronger 3.2, the wheels are from an E28, and both the interior and exterior have been tastefully redone. It’s old and has a few issues that will keep it a project, but odometer gears and door handles are easy items to start with. There’s definite interest but bidding is very low, making this a nice opportunity to get in a rareish classic BMW for cheap.
Click for details: 1981 BMW 528i on eBay
Modern Mercedes Sprinters are some of the most versatile and capable vehicles out there, and we’ve taken a few trips down memory lane to look at the history of Mercedes vans. This example comes from the first generation of Mercedes mid-size van, the 319, which came in a variety of van and truck bodystyles. This Panoramabus comes with the windows up, down, and all-around greenhouse that many lust after in the 21-Window VW Bus, offering as much sunlight as you can handle. It’s been around the block, originally living the US before heading to Holland to become a tour bus for the unfortunately-named Inn at Fawnskin and then transitioning into a camper (though the Fawnskin decals remain). I find it truly astonishing that it’s covered 164k miles given that it shares the meager 1.9-liter inline-4 which powered the diminutive 190SL. It has a very funky look and could be an epic van once restored, but is also being sold for an epic price at nearly $40k.
Click for details: 1966 Mercedes-Benz O319B Panoramabus on Hemmings
Thanks to a childhood friend’s family having a Vanagon in the exact same spec, this dark blue, final-year Westy (for the U.S.) paints the same picture as the entry for “Vanagon” in my personal car encyclopedia. It’s a very nice, mellow blue that teams up with body-colored mirrors and perfect (if small) OEM 5-spokes to accomplish a subtle aesthetic that is both handsome and unassuming. Fully loaded and fully functional, it’s covered just over 100k miles and is significantly more original than most nice Westfalias we see. The care to keep it looking good and performing perfectly is clear, but its all-originality helps it occupy a nice middle ground in terms of asking price.
Click for details: 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia on eBay
The fact that many camping Vanagons are going for $40k and up can be daunting for those of us who have aspirations of living the van life. Today we’ll take a look at a couple of 1991 vans that severely undercut the general Vanagon camper market – one pop-top and one rare example that has all the camping accoutrements but no pop-top.