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Thread: Advice Needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Question Advice Needed

    I am new to the Westie community and so I need so information and advice before I pull the trigger on buying one. I live in Costa Rica and have seen several of these vehicles drive through here on their Pan-American Highway journey. Not only do I love the way these amazing vehicles look, new and old, but I love the versatility of these vehicles. My wife and I's plan is to purchase one in the US and then have it shipped here to CR so that when we decide to move back to the US, we can make the CR-US trip in it and enjoy our time on the way North. I am new to Westies, as I stated earlier, so I am looking for some general information on these amazing vehicles. I have read hundreds of threads on this site, but I still have a few questions based on what we are looking for. I have a budget of $10,000-$13,500 and really want to buy a Westie Camper that is in great shape, preferably factory original. I want a Westie that has either been maticusally maintained or has been refurbished to almost new. I am not looking for a ton of modifications either. I want the basic Westie in great shape, specifically the motor, so that my wife and I can make the trip North from CR. Once we arrive back in the US, our plan is to hold on to this beauty and do modifications and improvements over time. The Westie we desire has to be in great shape with a track record of maintenance. My plan is to fly home once I have found the one I love, buy it, then drive it to LA/Houston/Miami and have it shipped here to CR. So for you seasoned Westie owners and purchasers out there...here is a list of my questions.

    1. Priority #1 is the Motor. I know that in 83 1/2 VW went to the water cooled engine and a sightly stronger one as well. For a trip as long as ours, over very mountainous terrain, would you recommend buying a Westie air cooled engine, water cooled engine, or go with an older model (my wife's favorite) with a replacement Subaru engine? I have seen many Westies on here with a new engine, old and new models, and most were replaced with the Subaru engine. Any advice on this?

    2. Would you recommend the 60's-70's body style over the 80's-90's body style? (not sure about these dates)

    3. What year model do you think is the best as far as over all long trip ability? My wife and I plan to make the CR-US trip, but also many other long trips in the future. I have in my plans to install a solar panel system, and shower system in the future, but as of right now I want one that is pretty much as is to make this first trip.

    4. Do you think my price range is reasonable. ($10,000-$13,500) Again I am looking for a Westie that is in excellent shape, with no rust or wrecks on record, and one that has a nice interior, like new or refurbished to original standards.

    5. Do you have any recommendations for Westie dealers. I would love to buy from an owner rather than dealer, but again I am planning on doing the research online then fly to the location of the vehicle to make the purchase. After the purchase I will have to have it shipped to CR. I am thinking about going the dealer route, with references of course, to try and get a more reliable account of the vehicle.

    6. Would anyone recommend buying a Syncro Bus (with row seats) because they are in good shape for around $8000-$10,000 and then do the camper interior and camper roof modification? I do not know the real difference in a Syncro and other Campers, but I know they have 4X4 and look to have a higher and stronger suspension.

    I have more questions, but I will wait until later to ask them. Thanks in advance to any one who responds to this thread. I know that if you do, you are responding out of the kindness in your heart and your heart for the Westie world. I can not wait to be officially apart of this community.

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  3. #2
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    Default

    Anyone have any advice on my original post?

  4. #3
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    Default

    Long answer shortened, I'd pass on the idea. For the price range you want, you just aren't likely to find the kind of vehicle you're after (refurb or obsessively maintained). What you will find in this range is going to need some work to bring it up to spec. Doing the work in CR is certainly going to raise the cost of that project almost geometrically (shipping, customs), to say nothing of shipping times. If you can take the time to do the work in the States, it gets easier, but then there's the cost of being in the States for at least several weeks and perhaps a few months.

    That being said, you can certainly hope to turn up a suitable vehicle closer to home. Or maybe even look into a Brazilian version. But the notion of a $10K Westy of any period, in the condition you want, given your location, is a long shot. As I said, I'd pass on it until you get back to the States full time.

  5. #4
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    Sep 2013
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    Default Surely I can find a Westi in good shape for between $10,000-$13,500! Right?

    Thank you for your response. The one questions I have to ask after reading your advice is, why can I not find a car in the price range of $10,000-$13,500 on here in good shape with a good motor, when there are tons on here at that price range? Your advice was that i will not find that, but on this page there are a lot. I want a Westi that is basically ready to hit the road, with a well maintained engine so I won't have mechanical issues, and has no rust. I live on the ocean here in Costa Rica and if the Westi has rust, it will start to rust even faster here in the environment. The Westi does not have to have all the bells and whistles, but I do want one that has been maintained and with in the price range listed above, I though I could attain that. There seems to be a lot of Westi's on here in that price range with rebuilt or refurbished motors. I am also not worried about the process of getting it to Costa Rica because I have experience in this area, but main concern is finding the one I want. Please let me know if you have any further comment. Thanks again for taking the time to message me.

  6. #5
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    I could swear I wrote a reply, but I don't see it here. Odd...

    Anyway, the problem is you want an inexpensive "plug and play" Westy that'll take you from Costa Rica to the States. As you said, " I have a budget of $10,000-$13,500 and really want to buy a Westie Camper that is in great shape, preferably factory original. I want a Westie that has either been maticusally maintained or has been refurbished to almost new. I am not looking for a ton of modifications either. I want the basic Westie in great shape, specifically the motor, so that my wife and I can make the trip North from CR." I'm sure there are some Westies in this price range and condition, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for one to show up. Or put the other way round, if you find one in the condition you want, the odds are it won't be in your price range.

    In our case, for example, we bought a second-owner '90 Westy that looks to be in almost mint condition, even after 193K. New GW 2.2L motor, GW transaxle still under warranty, and tons of records. Repairs I've done include replacing the shifter mechanism in the cab (common issue with age), wiring problems too numerous to list (PO-induced, including an ignition kill switch that worked too well), flaky air conditioning (finally put right after three different "experts", including a dealer tech, flunked the job), idle problems, rebuilding the front suspension (every bushing was shot), re-plumbing the fuel tank venting (common Westy problem), replacing the tent (aging canvas failure helped along by present dumb owner - me), and that doesn't count mods (headlight relays, air horn, vastly improved radio, auxiliary battery, and much more). And we started outside of your budget. Yes, I think we paid too much, given the front end, idle, and AC issues alone, but I don't think we were taken to the cleaners, either.

    Syncros - neat vehicles that will do almost anything but climb trees. However, most owners reckon their maintenance costs are double those of a 2WD Westy. Add to that that there were far fewer 4WD than 2WD Westies made, that people want 'em, and, surprise, they don't come cheap if they're in good shape.

    Do you see why I suggest you either revise your budget or let the project go?
    Last edited by RBEmerson; 10-11-2013 at 12:52 AM. Reason: Typos, always typos...

  7. #6
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    Thank you very much for your perspective. I am going to continue my search, but your advice has given me something to look out for. Thanks again.

  8. #7
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    To be sure my basic point is clear: the concept of buying a Westy for travel to the States is certainly feasible. My main concern is your budget for the project is too low, given your stated parameters for an acceptable Westy.

    That said, please share your experiences in the search and, of course, count on the community for help with getting ready to hit the road. It should be a fascinating trip.

  9. #8

    Default

    Actually, you might indeed find a Bay-window Westie (1968-1979) in your price range. You wouldn't have the space, engine power, or conveniences of the Vanagon, but if those aren't important to you, that might be the way to go. Of the Bay-windows, either go with a 1971 for the cheapest maintenance (it still used the "upright" engine used by the Beetle, and parts are plentiful) or the 1978 and onward fuel-injected models, which are reasonably trouble-free for a car that old.
    It will take a bit of patience and shopping, but I think you will be able to find one in your price range.
    --JLT
    Sacramento, CA USA

    Former buses: '61 17-Window "Pink Bus"
    '70 Frankenwestie "Blunder Bus"
    '71 Frankenwestie "Thunder Bus"
    Current bus: '71 Dormobile Westie "George"

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