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Thread: Advice on a Westy purchase!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    8

    Default Advice on a Westy purchase!

    So I'm a totally noobie when it comes to Westfalia's, but I'm hell bent on owning one and would like some advice. I'm going to go look at an 82' Westy tonight actually, and I can get the van for a song, but the motor overheated and the owner took it out. Cosmetically it is in great shape. No rust, and from what I'm told, the interior is in good shape too(that's what I'm finding out tonight), But I did however find a motor to an 89' Vanagon that I can afford, but I'm not sure if an 89' engine will go in an 82'. Once again, I'm new to westy's and I was never a car guy to begin with. Any suggestions from you guys about whether it'd be worth all this or should I keep looking? Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Snohomish, WA
    Posts
    112

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    Firstly, congratulations on your desire to own one and I am sure that will be a life long pleasure.

    Next, a little history. '82 models were air-cooled and they moved to water cooled in 83 1/2 making your '89 engine a water-cooled one. The engine can be installed but that would involve installing all the components necessary for the cooling system. This would be both expensive (to source the parts) and challenging (to figure out where they go). So your choices are to source the correct engine or examine your other possibilities.

    There are a number of after market companies installing Ford and Subaru engines; so the fact that your van doesn't have an engine is not the last straw. The simplest way forward would be to ask the current owner if he has the original engine. Even though it overheated, some major components may be reusable and it might be possible to rebuild it. Worst case is that you replace that engine with another 'like' unit. This basic engine design was used in VW vans from '73 (I believe) so there should be some out there you can source reasonably. In order of complexity, next would be the wasserboxer engine (83 1/2 and up like the one you mention) but those other options would require the installation of a cooling system; regardless of which option you choose. The other thing to keep in mind is that any Westfalia you find nowadays is old enough (probably) to need engine work anyways.

    So, you have some options but all of which are 'do-able'.

  4. #3

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    If you can take your time you will find a great westy. I drove my 85 GL off the dealers lot in March of 86 with 73 miles on it, now I have 90,000 miles and can't imagine not owning one. Look for a later model, preferably a 90 or 91 with all the bells and whistles.
    You will spend more on renovating one than getting one in good to excellent condition. Slow down but be prepared to move quickly for the right unit. A basket case will put you in the poorhouse. Do lots of looking online, maybe you'll be lucky enough to find a great unit close to your home. Good luck, you are entering the westy family, be prepared to become obsessive about it. Doug

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Thanks for the advice! I went ahead and bought the van mostly because I got it for a good price and the body and interior were in good enough condition. Plus it was close to where I live. It's my first van and I am prepared to receive what I paid for it, so I'm ready for lots of work that needs to be done. The engine is disassembled in the galley area of the van right now, and I had a mechanic-savvy friend take a look at it. It looks like a few of the piston rings need to be replaced and there's a slight jagged crack in the block. We're gonna see if it's worth it to rebuild it, or I have the number to a guy who has the same engine for sale for $600 in my state that I can get. I didn't do my research when I posted this(obviously) but the 89' engine is out of the picture for me. Anyone have any advice on rebuilds for the 82'? Again, my first Westy, and the first car I've owned that needs a rebuild, so it's all new to me!

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