1984 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

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The Westfalia market is all over the place right now, with top values staying remarkably strong as they stand strong as one of the best campers ever made. On the other end of the spectrum, we have examples like this brown survivor. A life on the East Coast has caused some minor decay, but the seller, a serial-VW owner, has taken care of many issues and replaced the engine with a later-model 2.1 a while back. It’s far from a perfect example, but it is functional and could be a solid project for a VW enthusiast. For under $8k, this is about as inexpensive an entry into Westylife as you’ll find.

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1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

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The license plate on the Vanagon is “STLMOVN,” an apt tag after 200k miles. Perhaps it also refers to its aged owners, who clearly have a sense of adventure but are passing on their great camper. Despite the higher mileage, the van looks extremely well cared for, with the seats having been covered, the exterior shining like new thanks to living in a garage, and a newer engine (though it’s unclear if that means rebuilt or fully new). It’s too bad “AC is not working” is the a main description line, because the more important news is that all of the appliances are like new. Something – perhaps the higher mileage? – seems to be scaring bidders away from the $14k starting point, but I think this is a very attractive Westy.

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1982 Volkswagen Diesel T3 Tischer XL

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Here’s another one to add to our collective knowledge of obscure camper vans! I hadn’t heard of Tischer before but it’s not that surprising considering they only made 85 total and only 10 of this XL model. Seems like a reasonable idea – “Volkswagen vans are slow, the campers even slower, the diesels are even slower, so let’s throw a whole RV on the back of one!” I like the idea of space, but to me RVs are about eliminating inconveniences, yet this seems like one seriously inconvenient RV. With an engine swap and a lot of work to fix all the “untried, assume not working” appliances this could be a funny piece of VWeird. Until then, it just seems like a gnarly project.

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1980 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

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I typically steer clear of salvage titles for obvious reasons, but this Westy seems deserving of an understanding eye. For starters, I’m guessing that you could sneeze on a 1980 Vanagon and the insurance company would total it. A little engine fire in one of these oldies would certainly do the trick. Some kind soul saw fit to save it, however, and the world is a little better for it. The restoration is a mix of subtle and style, with the classic brown exterior looking stock and the plaid-plaid-plaid upholstery making you think this thing’s top speed is a few orders of magnitude higher than it actually is. The new interior, pop top, and exterior plugs all turn this Westy into a faux time capsule instead of a basket case. It may be aircooled, but this thing looks brand new!

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1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

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This is an extremely clean diesel Westy from the only year when VW actually offered an oil-burner straight from the factory. As opposed to the anemic original 1.6 liter, last year this received a heart update via a brand-new 1.9-liter diesel unit straight from Volkswagen. Despite being pretty early in the Vanagon life cycle, the chassis has just 84k miles, putting together a very tidy package with a complete, fully functioning interior and nearly flawless exterior. All of this comes together for a van that appears ready for several more decades of fun.

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1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

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Here’s a nice, mostly-stock Westy that comes with a funny little bonus trailer on the back. I’m not sure how the “solar panel toolbox” works (is the battery inside?), but I like it already and dig the Westfalia badging. It seems a little excessive to just haul bikes on it – that’s what bike racks are for! – but there are plenty of uses for a good trailer. Dirtbike? Scooter? All the stuff you can’t fit inside? Anyway, it may not be the most minimalist, self-contained setup, but who cares when there’s no reserve on it? It looks clean in and out with the main detraction being rather high mileage.

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1984 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

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After a day of reflection on independence, I see no better vehicle to represent the ideal than a good, clean Westfalia. Cars in general embody independence, the ability to get in and go, but a Westy means you can go and maybe decide to not come back. Many people live in Westfalias full time, exploring the world and staying in new zipcodes while their pop-top home stays the same. While many command serious new-car money, this 1984 example looks to be an incredible deal. If you can make it through the intimidatingly-long description, you’ll find that this van has been loved, gone through, and updated by someone who knows their stuff and truly cared about making a great, functional camper. This is the kind of independence I want in my future, and if bidding remains at such an approachable level, maybe it will be!

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1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat Weekender

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My recent project of converting an inherited minivan into a camper has reinforced my interest in tin-top Vanagons. The Westy is certainly the way to go when a whole family is involved, multiplying the available sleeping space – and the price too. Besides affordability, tintops bring a much sleeker look, especially with subtle upgrades like today’s 1990 Carat Weekender. With a South African grille and 17″ Audi wheels, this Vanagon looks like it could be a Porsche Racing support vehicle. Alas, this is no Vanagon B32 (the Porsche-produced and -engined monster) but it’s still a sweet van that shows few, if any, signs of its 279k miles. Thankfully it won’t feel that well-traveled either, as it had an engine rebuild and transmission replacement 100k miles ago; it should have many roads and adventures ahead. While a lot of the Vanagon-love out there is steeped in overindulgence, this is a great example of how minimalism can still provide great versatility.

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1991 Volkswagen Westfalia TDI

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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.

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1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Syncro

Mix-and-match is one of the greatest benefits of VW ownership and modification, enabling Lego-like compatibility with looks and personality straight out of the Playmobil catalogue. While most Vanagons pack the abilities of many cars into one, this T3 takes it to the next level by combining the content of two already-capable VW vans into one vehicle. As the seller embarked on the restoration of a Westfalia California, they came into possession of a non-Westy but Syncro’d van and the Frankenstein dreams quickly took hold – put all the great camping gear into the van with the ultimate running gear. As a result, they made an extremely desirable package and cleaned it up with a full restoration, rebuilt wasserboxer, and a subtle-but-great offroad package. Personal favorites include the perfect Graphite Gray paint and the Star Wars-lookin’ California top that provides a slight differentiation from most pop-top VWs you see. It may have taken a few donors, but in the end this is one excellent monster Vanagon.

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