1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro Hightop

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Following in yesterday’s rough-but-affordable Vanagon Syncro footsteps, we have an interesting DIY-Syncro Camper with a no-reserve auction. It started as a tinop Vanagon GL Syncro but has experienced many surgeries – cosmetic, mechanical, electrical – to make it a much more versatile and reliable van. The Subaru 2.2 is good for speed, the hightop is nice for headroom (there’s no bed in this one) and the Westy kitchen is a huge camping bonus, but what really catches my eye is all of the little aftermarket touches the seller has installed to make this van much less of a headache down the road. GoWesty relays, circuit boards, stainless lines and coolant pipes… these are details that increase confidence that this is a solid Vanagon bet. There are also plenty of less-consequential but still cool pieces coming with it, like insulated curtains, van shower, bike racks, awning, and good-looking Audi 5000 wheels. It shows some exterior blemishes, but nothing bad; they’re like an old climber’s sunspots on his nose and cheeks. This thing was built for adventure and reconstructed for even bigger ones.

Click for details: 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro Hightop on eBay

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1986 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro Hightop EJ22 Swap

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Here’s one of the best deals on a Syncro camper we’ve seen in a while (if not ever!) and it comes with a well-done Subaru boxer swap. These High Top campers are much more rare than their pop-top brethren, but it’s a pretty awesome look with more 4-season capability. Though listed with 290k miles, the engine was put in 20k miles ago and had a decent refresh at the time along with a rebuilt transmission. Clearly owned by a well-informed and diligent Vanagon enthusiast, this Syncro camper is going for about half of where most start. It’s caveat emptor with any swap, high-mileage car, or 80s Volkswagen in general, but anyone looking at this van should have a healthy level of project-excitement and an appreciation of getting this much Vanagon for a reasonable price.

Click for details: 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on eBay

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Subaru’d 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Weekender

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The Vanagon Weekender is a nice alternative to the full-on Westfalia treatment, lacking the fluid, electric, and gas inlets/outlets, but still possessing great campability with a pop-top, table, and folding rear bed. Today’s Weekender has undergone the popular Subaru flat-4 conversion, bringing a little more power and reliability compared the old VW wasserboxer. You could see the Weekender and non-turbo Subaru engine as compromises, or as very capable options that keep costs down. That’s the lens I choose to see this Vanagon through; it’s not a high-powered, fully-optioned and mega-expensive model, but it has the right bits to get the job done.

Click for details: 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Weekender on eBay

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Insane $70,000 Volkswagen Syncro Westfalia

My last extreme Syncro Westfalia garnered many chortles as the $40k asking price overshadowed the thorough restoration. What’s the best way to convert the naysayers? Find an even more insanely priced Volkswagen van.

Today’s Vanagon is definitely more decked out, with solar panels, ladders, racks, rims, and the heart of a Subaru SVX. This interesting engine swap certainly accounts for a large portion of the seller’s expectations. While Subaru transplants are increasingly common in Vanagons for their power and reliability, people usually stick with the 4-cylinders. Clearly this Syncro is about going 5 blades, so he opted for one of the biggest engines Subaru ever produced, the SVX’s 3.3L flat six. 231hp should do just fine in place of the original 2.1L wasserboxer’s 95hp. Actually, it must make this thing downright beastly. With everything working (the previously-listed Syncro got nicked for no a/c) and 1600 shakedown miles on the engine conversion, this seems to be the real Vanagon for the megolomaniac.

1991 Volkswagen Syncro Westfalia w/ Subaru conversion for sale on eBay


From the clearly (and awesomely) demented seller:

Behold the Holy Grail of Syncro Westfalia vans made, the 1991…This van is a great example of a clean syncro westfalia with all the amenities. The van has been road tested for about 1600 miles from conversion completion, enough to work out all the kinks. Everything works on the van, power windows, locks, front and rear window washers, diff lock, decoupler, stove, sink, propane heat…Everything!
Below is a breakdown of all the items included in this build.

Many more photos at subagon.com

(5) 215 70 16 A/T BF Goodrich tires and wheels (powder coated black)
120 watt solar panel
2 stage custom paint (orley blue)
8′ Fiamma Awning
Propex Gas
Subagon Big Brake kit front
Subagon rear Disc Brake addition
built in inverter 1500 watt
cruise control
door alarm
drive shaft decoupler kit
rear differential lock
dual isolated battery
dynamat sound deadening material
rear bumper w/ hitch receiver, swing away tire carrier, fuel can carrier
fridge delete kit
front AC – rear AC
front bumper with bull bar
large 12v fridge
new interior
rock chip guard
svx motor install – 1996 with 50k miles
rebuilt transmission with taller 4th gear
old man emu suspension
2″ lift springs
tinted windows
truck mirrors
New rear cv joints – inner and outer
New 3 window pop top canvas
New Rear Flat sub woofer
Pop top Struts- (strongest)
Hijack lift mounted on front tube bumper
PIIA fog lights
Hot water heater and shower
Permanent Ladder
TDI Starter
Custom front skid plate / water proof lock box

Plus a bonus fun note from Subagon.com:

We built this van for a customer that spared no expense. He took the van on a few road trips and now wants us to build another one, the twin to this van but with a Subaru Diesel, a build that will land in a price range north of six figures.

Yes, that’s bonkers money for sure, but at least some rich dudes are spending their money in awesome and unique ways.

I know people will again question why anyone would spend this kind of money on a Vanagon. But honestly, I would much rather have this than a new Range Rover or X5 or Sprinter camper. Bespoke and thoroughly badass, the price is jaw-dropping, but so are the choices and execution. Next time you see any car on the road that costs $70k (and where I live, that’s >50% of the cars on the road), ask yourself if it’s cooler than this. Regardless of the car, I already know my answer.

-NR