1980 Volkswagen Jürgens AutoVilla

Last week I looked at the oddball LT28 Westfalia Sven Hedin camper. While it was affordable relative to some crazy VW Camper pricing, at the end of the day it wasn’t a really great example. Somewhat surprisingly, another Sven Hedin popped high-topped up immediately after I wrote up the post. Our reader Daniel spotted it, and not only was it cheaper than the one I featured, it was in much better condition. But it’s not the only offbeat VW Van to appear at that time.

I also noticed what seems to look like a more traditional American-style mini-camper, and I was curious. What it is is a T3 conversion by Jürgens in South Africa. Called the “Mighty Mini Motorised Home” in period literature, starting in the 1970s the company basically strapped what looked like a tow-behind caravan onto the chassis and cab of a T2. Although I couldn’t find much information outside of the brochure, there are a few fan groups devoted to the T2 model. According to that site, Jürgens began production in 1973 and when the T2 was phased out, production moved to the T3. The new T3 chassis offered more space in the back, so the AutoVilla grew to accommodate a double bed over the cab and a bathroom. All this space meant weight, and the already underpowered 2.0 inline-4 apparently struggled to meet the company’s definition of “motorised”, never mind “mighty”. But these South African campers inspired Wilhelm Karmann (yes, THAT Karmann), who liscenced the design and began building the equally ungainly Volkswagen Karmann Gipsy. Karmann even built a few syncro models of the Gipsy. Needless to say, neither the Karmann Gipsy nor the original Jürgens AutoVilla made it to the U.S., but there’s one for sale now in North Carolina:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Volkswagen Jürgens AutoVilla on eBay

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A ‘M’ by any other name: 1987 BMW 745i

BMW has teased us with competitor’s to Audi’s S8 and the Mercedes-Benz S63/5 AMGs, and there’s no doubt that the current M760i is a weapons-grade executive. With over 600 horsepower and a 3.4 second 0-60 time, drives to you your business lunches will be brief to say the least. But BMW has stopped short of coming out with a full-fledged M7 to this point, and it turns out they’ve been teasing us all along.

The first 7-series was a big step forward for the company, and just like today’s top-shelf offering, the 745i was a turbocharged variant that offered the best performance. That is, of course, unless you were in South Africa. That’s because South Africa got a very special E23, and it all had to do with the right side – of the road, and of the motor. On the M102 and 106, performance of the M30 was boosted by a big KKK K27 turbocharger on the right side of the motor. The placement conflicted with right-drive steering columns, and as a result BMW didn’t build right-hand drive 745i turbos. But South Africa was having none of that, and decided to build their own super-saloon. Instead of turbocharging, BMW SA installed a M88/3 in a claimed 209 of their E23s, matching the performance with M5/6 brakes and a stiffer suspension, along with BBS wheels:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 745i on Car and Classic

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Right Hooker Week: 1990 Audi 500SE

No, it’s not a typo. And no, it’s not an Audi 5000.

The Audi 500SE won’t be a model that is familiar to pretty much anyone on these pages. But in an interesting side note of history you do know, Audi tried to bring its large sedans to Africa in the late 1980s. After the banning of Group B and the cancellation of Group S, Audi took to Group A with both normally aspirated Coupe Quattros and turbocharged Audi 200s. The 200 was successful at the hands of Hannu Mikkola, winning Rally Safari in 1987. 1988 saw the introduction of the 200 quattro Trans Am to U.S. shores, but few remember that those cars were then used in South Africa in the 1989 Wesbank Modifieds Championship. They would continue on in 1990 and 1991 before being replaced by a rebody of the 90 IMSA GTO car in an S4 chassis – a car which was just on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

But without much need for quattro and without the smaller model range on sale, Audi’s showroom was filled with a rebrand of the Type 44. Produced in Uitenhage, South Africa, it was dubbed the 500SE, and it was available with either turbocharging or a normally aspirated motor. Unlike Europe (and later, the U.S.) the model designations did not change with forced induction. The specification was a bit strange, too; like the 1987 Audi 5000S quattro, the 500SE wore the larger brakes and wheels of the turbocharged model even when it did not have one. But unlike those cars, it also wore the upscale dual-chamber 200 headlights. Models like this particular 1990 were powered by the 2.3 liter NF motor that saw duty post 1987 in the late-5000 and early-100 front-drivers and quattros. They wore the later Type 44 updates like the smooth dash, too. Coupled with Euro bumpers and a luxury-oriented interior, it makes for an interesting Type 44:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 500SE on eBay.co.uk

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Weekend Warrior: South African-Spec 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia


I’ve mentioned that a friend sold everything to tour the continent in a Westfalia, and every day I grow more envious and consider doing the same (not the M5 though… it can stay in a garage). Well, folks, I’ve finally seen what I want my Westy to look like. I’ve heard of the desirable South African look, but hadn’t seen it in full force until this one. The 4-light grill is dead sexy, along with body colored bumpers that always make Vanagons look a notch above. With some great additions and maintenance, this is a really nice Vanagon (or thus-labeled Microbus, as it was in South Africa) that looks ready to whisk me away from work frustrations and out onto the open road.

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Year: 1990
Model: Vanagon
Engine: 1.8l inline-4
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 161k on chassis, 50k on body
Price: $27,950

Click for more details:1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia for sale on eBay

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The last three sales of vehicles like this one, at the famous GoWesty.com site, fetched the following prices (check their website):
1990 full camper, 155,552 miles, sold 5/13 – $66,630.90
1991 (same spec. as 1990) full camper, 95,206 miles, sold 5/13 – $58,947.35
1991 (same spec. as 1990) full camper, 114,741 miles, sold 1/13 – $80, 590.35
Although this is a “final spec” 1990 US vehicle, these vehicles were built in South Africa (SA) through 2002. This one has been modified to include many of the upgraded features of the newer South African vehicles:
SA VW / Audi fuel injected 1.8L inline 4-cyl. engine
SA quad headlight front grill
SA alloy wheels on all four corners
SA leather steering wheel
SA VW custom mud laps, front & rear
SA Microbus & Active rear door badges
Body colored front & rear bumpers
Front fog lights
Smoked front turn signal clusters
Smoked rear light clusters
Sony CD Stereo system with remote & iPod connection + front & rear speakers
Supplemental power outlets
Full carpeting throughout
Front, mid & center carpet floor-mats
Includes custom luggage bag for front roof rack (see photo)
Car cover
SA VW / Audi engine has approximately 50,000 miles from new, fully serviced, no oil leaks, doesn’t burn oil, smooth and powerful, easily serviced by proficient VW shop
Licensed in California with valid SMOG certification through May 2014
Power assisted front & rear brakes
Power assisted rack & pinion, turns on a dime with a curb to curb turning circle of 35.8 feet, vehicle tracks straight & true on the road
Independent front & rear suspension
Power mirrors
Central locking system
Power windows
Air conditioning
Great tires, including spare
New battery with 96 mo warranty installed 2/13
Original full color 1990 brochure with the vehicle, as well as glove compartment handbook
Vehicle seats 4 passengers
With top up can sleep 2 up and 2 down – comfortably
Has two tables to enable 4 people to eat (front seats swivel)
Has 2 burner stove, refrigerator & sink.
Can run on 12v vehicle battery, 120v external power plugged into side of vehicle or propane for refrigerator (required for stove)
Storage cabinets, including closet
Full privacy curtains for sleeping
Pop-top canvas is in great shape
High ground clearance – can do light trails into campsites
Work I’ve had done (with receipts):
New CV joints
New shocks, front & rear
a/c compressor replacement
Power steering pump
New auxiliary fan assembly
New drive belts
a/c system reconditioned with both blower motors replaced, plus resistors, relays & thermostat

$_57 (1)

I’m guessing the last 3 examples of sales from GoWesty were throughly GoWestified, which always demands a significant premium. That said, the ~$28k asking price is, while always shocking to those who don’t follow Westfalias, pretty reasonable. This is a well-done Vanagon with a lot of highlights and few liabilities. The only things missing are a manual transmission, some Synchro differentials, and me in the driver’s seat.