1991 VW Doka Vanagon Truck for Sale

Since everyone seemed to be so upset by the price of the last VW Van I posted, I figured I’d post a very rare example at a much more reasonable price: just $57k.

1991 VW Vanagon DOKA Tristar Syncro for sale

Before everyone gets their collective leiderhosen in bunches, I’ll let the seller explain WHY this VW is deserving of a such a price.  It’s a long but entertaining read, and I highly recommend it to fans of obscure VW knowledge.

These trucks are pretty common all over the world, EXCEPT in the USA. VW technically did not import ANY Vanagon trucks into the USA. This is one of 18 that was brought into Canada under very special circumstances. Indeed, there is a great story behind this Vanagon TriStar Double Cab (DOKA) Syncro (4WD) truck.

As the story goes, there once was an oil exploration company in Canada that ordered 18 Syncro DOKAs just like this one. And, they were not just ANY Syncro DOKAs, but all TriStar models—more on that in a moment. The company ended up going out of business before the trucks arrived. So, VW of North America ended up selling these 18 trucks through their distributors in Canada.

Well, one of the ex-employees of the company snagged two of these, and brought them legally back home to Southern California. Check out the photos of the current California title. That is right: This is one of those 18 DOKAs made with the correct VIN for North America. This may seem like an inconsequential detail—but it is actually quite a big deal in this case, because this DOKA is diesel powered. Currently, it is not possible to bring a diesel powered vehicle into California if the vehicle in question was not a model offered somewhere else in the USA. NO WAY. So, the first amazing thing about this DOKA is that it is a totally LEGALLY REGISTERED DIESEL: That alone would be crazy enough, but it gets better…

Every DOKA ever made, except for these 18, was sold outside the USA. They were sold in Northern Europe and Scandinavia, and were mostly work trucks, put into service in severe weather (especially the Syncro models). Of the 18 that made it to North America, most were sold in Canada. What does this mean? It means that just about every DOKA ever made is now a rust bucket. By contrast, thistruck has lived all its life in Southern California, and has spent its time on the freeway. Therefore: NO RUST. Anybody who has ever spent time staring at a DOKA, like me, is simply amazed by how incredibly rust free this example is. But wait, it gets better…

This is not just any ol’ DOKA. This is a TriStar. So, unlike 90% of all VW DOKAs ever made that were basically 3-door, stripped-down work trucks, the TriStars were built super plush. TriStar means it has every factory option, including:

• Full plush cloth interior
• Padded dash
• Wall-to-wall carpet
• Heated driver’s seat
• Rear window defroster
• Cruise control
• Arm rests on both front seats
• Power windows
• Rear differential lock
• And last but not least: FOUR DOORS

And, that’s not all…

The guy we got this from is a super duper, over-the-top Vanagon NUT. He went totally overboard and did the following:

– Complete repaint inside and out to factory color
– Gray color redone all around the bottom
– Lots of seals and gaskets replaced
– All new carpet throughout
– Syncro.Org springs
– Old Man Emu shocks
– All new brakes
– Driveshaft decoupler (still has viscous coupler)
– Nice stereo with new larger speakers under rear seat
– All new power door lock system with remote entry


– Air conditioning system (that kicks ass, BTW)
– Fresh transaxle with much taller 3rd and 4th gears, for the…


– 1.9 liter Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engine with intercooler

Now, a few words about the AC and TDI engine:

AC in a DOKA? That is not possible…. that is, unless you are some sort of super duper, over-the-top Vanagon NUT. The owner had the AC unit painstakingly removed from an early 80s Vanagon, painted to match the interior scheme, and custom-installed so it looks like it came that way from the factory. Now, we have added NORMAL, FACTORY AC into a run-of-the-mill Westy that did not have it. It was a fairly straight forward job, but still cost north of $5k—all said and done. I just can’t IMAGINE how much time THIS took.

So, again, I admit that this kind of car is highly overpriced for most people. However, there is a dedicated group out there for whom the words DOKA, Syncro, and TDI are holy terms and nearly soul-shatteringly awesome when combined altogether.  For someone out there, this rare gem is easily worth its price.


Insane 1990 Syncro Westfalia for Sale

I know we usually restrict our posts to German autos of the sporting variety, but people are doing such insane things with Vanagons these days I got clearance to post them every once in a while.  A utilitarian beast at heart, Vanagons have a unique following, a following so diehard that they go to extraordinary lengths to restore, modify, and improve their vans.  Some create cab-forward boxes with performance to shame a lot of the cars we post here, many with increasingly common Subaru WRX and STI engine-swaps.  Others, like the one we have today, have been completely redone to be unstoppable adventure-mongers.  GoWesty (as in Westfalia, the camper edition of Vanagon), has the process down and churns out some incredibly capable and well-built vans.  With a plethora of modification and restoration possibilities, they can clean up your van and fix the sink, or you can have them do a ground-up build with the only limit being the size of your wallet.

This 1990 Syncro (4WD in VWspeak) explores the latter option to the extreme.  New everything and more, they have created a no-holds-barred adventure machine with a coffee-spitting price: $80k.

1990 Vanagon Westfalia Syncro for sale at GoWesty.com

The insane worklist:

This is all the stuff we did for Doug:

• Stripped down completely to the bare body
• Collision damage repaired back to factory exact specification
• Complete repaint inside and out to factory color
• Black texture treatment all around the bottom
• GoWesty plate steel bumpers, rear with integral hitch
• Skid plate up front
• Double swing-away carrier for rear
• Full size spare wheel
• Fuel and water cans
• New hemp/cotton 3-window pop top tent
• All new interior panels with matching Recaro material inserts
• New Recaro front seats
• Rear seat and bed cushion recovered in Recaro fabric to match front seats
• All typically discolored and shrunken vinyl around windows removed, and all surfaces painted to match exterior
• Undercarriage stripped clean
• Steam cleaned thoroughly
• Undercoated thoroughly
• All fresh suspension and steering
• Old Man Emu shocks
• GoWesty progressive lifting springs
• All new brake system
• Big brakes up front
• All new brake and clutch hydraulic systems
• All new cooling system
• Fuel and electrical systems all gone through thoroughly
• GoWesty super duper ultra major maintenance service
– All maintenance items back to zero miles
• 16″ wheels with 225/70-16 BFG tires
• Fresh GoWesty 2.5 liter engine with 48/48 warranty
• Fresh transaxle and front differential, 48/48 warranty, with:
– 12% lower 5.43:1 ratio final drive gearing
– Triple knobs, which means:
– Driveshaft decoupler and solid shaft instead of viscous coupler
– Locking differential front
– Locking differential rear
• Deluxe 3 auxiliary battery system
• 50 watt solar panel on roof, quick-release style
• All-electric Engel fridge/freezer installed quick-release style
• Old fridge space turned into more cabinet space
• New LP tank assembly
• Propex built-in 7500 btu furnace
• Over $2800 worth of “just in case” preemptive reliability enhancing items
• Killer stereo with iPod, XM, and sub woofer
• Dashboard removed and all systems rebuilt
• All new power windows with centrally located switches
• All new power door lock system with remote entry
• On-board compressed air system for easy air-up of tires after off-roading

Basically: Just about everything we offer for a Syncro, Doug ordered for this puppy.

Is it all necessary?  No, probably not.  Is it awesome?  Definitely.  Doug, the guy who had it built, obviously wanted to pull out all the stops, and it shows.  It’s beautiful and simple inside and out, and while the parts list is excessive, every piece seems well thought out and useful.  If it means anything, it’s $25k less than it would cost to build from scratch and has only done 9k miles since its rebirth.  No, it’s not a bargain, but it is unquestionably valuable to a specific group of German car lovers.