1989' Vanagon GL Westfalia 151k original 2.1L

While on a road trip in California last month, I pulled over to look at a Westy on the side of the road in Fort Bragg. The price seemed to be on the lower end of the ones I'd seen online and I decided just to call the number for the hell of it. The owner was a couple blocks away and said he'd come down and we could take it for a test drive. I had no intentions of buying it but thought it couldn't hurt. The man was the son of the original owner who had bought it new in 89 and put 100k on it, then sold it to his son, who had put 50k on it and was now looking to pass it on to the "right person". He was a super nice fellow and really wanted to sell me the van, being a young adventurous type from Alaska. The asking price was 8,500, down from 10,000 and he hadn't listed it online. I walked away from it and told him I needed a couple days to think about it. After talking to a mechanic friend of mine, and VW specialist, I decided to offer him 7,000 (by far the most I've ever spent on a vehicle), and he accepted the offer.

It was a pretty neat thing for me and for him. He brought photos of his father who had passed away and showed me a guidebook to the Trinity Mountains that his mother and father had written in the 80's. It was emotional for him, and I felt real honored that he was passing this vehicle down with such trust that I would carry on it's legacy...

I drove her down from Fort Bragg with no problems, minus the oil pressure sensor buzzing a few times (which I have now come to understand as a common issue that does not necessarily correlate to a significant actual drop or rise in pressure). I then brought it to the BusLab in Berkeley to get it looked over and there they discovered a leaky coolant gasket, which they replaced. They got me in on a Friday afternoon, which was nice, but later I would find out that they hadn't tightened one of the hose clamps enough. I drove it at a steady 3200-3400 RPMs, which turned out to be around 60mph, from San Fran to Seattle with no problems until I was 2 miles from my final destination. I happened to see the temp. light flashing and immediately pulled over. Coolant was pissing out from what appeared to be the very gasket they had just replaced. I let the engine cool down, cleaned up the mess, checked levels (which there was plenty of coolant left), and fired her back up. I managed to find the leak at the hose junction just below the gasket, and with a couple turns of the clamp screw, the leak ceased completely. I cancelled the AAA tow I had just called in, as I was cutting it close for a flight out of Seattle that night, and drove her to the destination.

I am now awaiting her arrival here in Homer, AK. I opted to ship the vehicle on a freight barge rather than drive it up, partly out of a lack of time, and partly to save wear and tear on the ALCAN.

That's my story. I'm pretty excited and a little daunted about owning one of these things. I've admired them from afar since I was a teen, and feel very fortunate to have come across this one. Any advice, thoughts, or suggestions would be appreciated.


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