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Thread: Should I buy a Westfalia? What engine the least likely to have expensive problems?

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    Question Should I buy a Westfalia? What engine the least likely to have expensive problems?

    Long time watercooled VW fan that has wanted a Westfalia for about 6-5 years now.

    Own a 92 GTI 16v. In very nice shape.

    These days I ride my bike a lot, and have only driven the GTI about 500-800 miles per year the last 5 years. I have to remember to start it for 15-20 min every 2 weeks.

    Anyway, the camper. My thoughts have been since I do not drive much, I would like something I could actually sleep and cook in. I also tend to get a little loopy in the winter when the grey comes into PDX> I would like a little escape pod to the Eastern Desert. A 2 day recharge.

    Eventually, in 5-6 years when our baby is old enough, we would like an Americana road trip. Visit family in Tennessee, CA, go to Yosemite, etc... I also would like to visit family rentals in Loreto Mexico and I think camping along the way would be a lot of fun. Some occasional concert festivals, etc.

    I would like to buy and get that vehicle dialed in.

    My options seem to be a Vanagon, an American Van, or Class B, or a Toyota Motorhome. At least these are the ones I prefer. Maybe even a small pick up with a pop up rear camper.

    My question is, as a mostly stay at home parent without a lot of disposable income.. am I getting in over my head considering a Vanagon? My GTI has been thoroughly babied and taken care of since I bought it just over 10 years old in 2002. I can trust it well. So much is renewed.

    I hear that one needs over a grand a year to keep a Vanagon running. I really am not in a position to take that on. Not mechanically inclined, either. A buddy keeps telling me to get a Toyota RV. The VW will be (pardon my words, or er.. "his" words) a RPOS.

    A friend has an 85 Vanagon Westy that she recently had her local mechanic put in a Small Car conversion kit with the Subaru 2.5 liter. She seems to really like it. The conversion was not terribly expensive, parts and labor about 7 grand. Low mileage Subie engine. Wife has a Forester so I know what a reliable motor this is. 140k and just maintenance since new.

    I have been curious if an 82 Vanagon Westy Diesel is worth considering? Rebuilt orig 1.6 liter, no rust, taken care of and straight. One day add a NA 1.9. I love the gas mileage reports. The simplicity without all the ECU stuff is also appealing to me. No Power steering is also oddly of interest. I figured one day when I could do it and the motor had a major need, I could have the better transmission off a later model and either the 1.9 liter Diesel or a Subaru Diesel (if one could be imported?). Or even the 2.5 liter Subaru... I know the diesels are supposedly scary slow. I drive so slow, the speed limit up North are mostly 50-55.. but I know the sluggishness on hills could be a bit much, but I think I might be okay with it if it is more reliable than a WBX...

    Or, would a later model converted to a Subie 4 cylinder ASAP be more reliable?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Default VW Money/Time Suckers

    Currently own
    72 aircooled Adventurewagon conversion (fulltime popup)
    90 syncro adventurwagon conversion

    Previous
    73 superbeetle
    72 westfalia
    67 doubledoor turned into a pickup when tree fell on the back
    67 doubledoor plain jane POS with no 2nd gear.

    I would go with small pickup and camper, even a tow behind pop up before recommending a VW to a young family, especially if its not your daily driver. Even then, its a series of pains. Yes they're fun, but they're pushing 30 years+ old, all break lines, fuel lines need replacing, rubber gaskets, etc...

    You will catch on fire at some point. Hopefully it'll be close to the house, like our 72. Wiring is all nasty, old cracked, etc... Under seat storage will be filled with spare distributors, fuel lines, fuel filters, coveralls, tool boxes, sparkplugs, etc... and these days other cars only getting faster and more controllable. The VW is best suited to an island off Seattle or someplace where the pace of life includes the likelihood and non-life/schedule threatening reality that you will be stuck on the side of the road and neither the tow truck driver nor the shop he'll tow you too will have a clue about working on an old vw.

    my kind of bitter .02.

    Quote Originally Posted by djkenny View Post
    Long time watercooled VW fan that has wanted a Westfalia for about 6-5 years now.

    Own a 92 GTI 16v. In very nice shape.

    These days I ride my bike a lot, and have only driven the GTI about 500-800 miles per year the last 5 years. I have to remember to start it for 15-20 min every 2 weeks.

    Anyway, the camper. My thoughts have been since I do not drive much, I would like something I could actually sleep and cook in. I also tend to get a little loopy in the winter when the grey comes into PDX> I would like a little escape pod to the Eastern Desert. A 2 day recharge.

    Eventually, in 5-6 years when our baby is old enough, we would like an Americana road trip. Visit family in Tennessee, CA, go to Yosemite, etc... I also would like to visit family rentals in Loreto Mexico and I think camping along the way would be a lot of fun. Some occasional concert festivals, etc.

    I would like to buy and get that vehicle dialed in.

    My options seem to be a Vanagon, an American Van, or Class B, or a Toyota Motorhome. At least these are the ones I prefer. Maybe even a small pick up with a pop up rear camper.

    My question is, as a mostly stay at home parent without a lot of disposable income.. am I getting in over my head considering a Vanagon? My GTI has been thoroughly babied and taken care of since I bought it just over 10 years old in 2002. I can trust it well. So much is renewed.

    I hear that one needs over a grand a year to keep a Vanagon running. I really am not in a position to take that on. Not mechanically inclined, either. A buddy keeps telling me to get a Toyota RV. The VW will be (pardon my words, or er.. "his" words) a RPOS.

    A friend has an 85 Vanagon Westy that she recently had her local mechanic put in a Small Car conversion kit with the Subaru 2.5 liter. She seems to really like it. The conversion was not terribly expensive, parts and labor about 7 grand. Low mileage Subie engine. Wife has a Forester so I know what a reliable motor this is. 140k and just maintenance since new.

    I have been curious if an 82 Vanagon Westy Diesel is worth considering? Rebuilt orig 1.6 liter, no rust, taken care of and straight. One day add a NA 1.9. I love the gas mileage reports. The simplicity without all the ECU stuff is also appealing to me. No Power steering is also oddly of interest. I figured one day when I could do it and the motor had a major need, I could have the better transmission off a later model and either the 1.9 liter Diesel or a Subaru Diesel (if one could be imported?). Or even the 2.5 liter Subaru... I know the diesels are supposedly scary slow. I drive so slow, the speed limit up North are mostly 50-55.. but I know the sluggishness on hills could be a bit much, but I think I might be okay with it if it is more reliable than a WBX...

    Or, would a later model converted to a Subie 4 cylinder ASAP be more reliable?

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