Of course, if you’re a fan of German cars (and even some who are not), the Volkswagen Westfalia pop-top campers are legendary in their own right. But esoteric fans no there was not just one version of the iconic ‘Camper Van’. Indeed, Volkswagen offered two iterations of do-anything #vanlife in the 70s,80s and even 80s. The Vanagon is probably the best known, but based upon VW’s larger LT platform were also 8 versions of campers with unique features and a bit more space than the traditional VW van.
Top of the range between 1978 and 1989 was this model – the LT Westfalia Sven Hedin. Hedin was a notable Swedish explorer of central Asia, so the eponymous camper was adventure ready. These high-top vans featured similar accoutrements to the T2 and T3 models, with a cooker, fridge, versatile seating and a fixed sleeping area along with copious storage. Where the LT stood apart was incorporation of a bathroom, replete with hot water shower. You could have these Sven Hedins with either PVC or carpeted flooring as seen here, and with either a 2.0 inline-4 gas motor or the lump seen in this model – the D24 2.4 liter inline-6 diesel rated at 75 horsepower.
Last month we featured a rare Sven Hedin edition of a VW LT28 Westfalia. It had a lot of style and promise, but looking deeper past the Playmobil-esque lines showed a van that needed serious love and effort inside and out. Today’s 1980 model look to be cleaner throughout, though the single exterior shot leaves plenty of opportunity for hidden blemishes. The interior while still heavy on the 80s style, is notably better and doesn’t have the saggy-bags on the wall. Under the hood it has a recent turbodiesel heart transplant from a 96 Volvo. Despite originally living in the other Vol-car, these DT24T engines were actually built by Volkswagen from 1982-1992 and are as close to OEM+ as you can get for the LTs. With both the turbo and the intercooler, it pumps out over 120hp, a big improvement over the original 74hp. With highway capability, a dated but ready-to-use interior, and a simple, clean exterior, this is a great plus-sized alternative to the standard T3 Westy.
We’ve posted some interesting variations on the Volkswagen LT vans, the plus-sized Vanagons that never came to the US. From firetrucks to zombie defense vehicles to race team vans, they’re like VW’s Sprinter. Today’s LT28 model, indicating the lightest gross vehicle weight available (they went up to the LT55), is a special edition form Westfalia called the “Sven Hedin,” the Swedish world explorer. The bigger size of the LT allows for more amenities than would ever fit in a T3 like a shower, while the hightop makes standing up much more comfortable. The size and rarity are definitely the main draws here, as it’s showing some wear after its 125k miles and 28 years. The interior looks original but droopy, especially the wall-mounted cloth storage sacks. The exterior shows some cracked and possibly redone paint areas, and the incredible blue stripes have seen better days. All of the thick plastic Westfalia interior bits look great though and the turbodiesel inline-6 should be just getting into its prime, so as long as there aren’t a bunch of rust spots hiding, I think it has a lot of potential as a plus-sized camper.