Antennas & Replacement

Mike Leonard

New member
Hey everyone, some @%&$# SOB snapped off the antenna on my 76 Campmobile. I have searched in vain for some way to remove the old one and replace with the new one, but I cannot see how it can be done with out (gulp) removing the dash (it's mounted on the front right corner).
Any help would be greatly appreciated. I don't listen to the radio alot, but it looks like heck the way it it!

Capt. Mike

It can be done, but nobody said it would be easy! Remove the glove box liner and the black front footwell deco panel. It helps if you are double jointed and have long magnetic fingers like ET.

If you have the underdash A/C, you will have to drop it down.

Rob Durham

New member
I have had a similar experience with a 90 Westy. On the later model the antenna is mounted on the left. I cannot seem to access the cable and fitting from the fuse box, steering column area on the left. Attempts to reach it by pulling grill also do not seem to help. I have wandered about in Bentley but find no leads. Clearly I am missing something. Any assists appreciated.

Capt. Mike

In Vanagons, antenna access is all the harder because of the steering & electrical stuff under the dash.

As best I remember -- and it's been about 10 years since I was installing some of my goodies -- you can drop down the fuse box assembly by first removing the cover, then unscrewing a Phillips head retains screw. This lets the entire supply panel drop down a little. After that, you can then remove the metal bracket that it mounts to for a little more manuevering room and to keep from scraping up your arms.

You will have to pull the hoses that feed the left side & left dash air vents. I can easily see the left wiper pivot through that access, so suspect you can reach the antenna a few inches away.

Removing the instrument cluster (Bentley 90.10) will give you some light & visibility and maybe a 2nd access, although probably blind.

That and fingers like ET ought to get you close enough to reach the back of the antenna. You might as well lay back the carpet, because I know you'll drop something down behind the lower sheet metal! Good luck, go easy and don't force anything because you don't want to break it!


New member
Since I recently finished putting a new antenna on the bus, I thought that I would offer some insight.

First, never have to do this if you can avoid it.

Second, once you have to do it, get ready.

Open the Bentley to section 70 and begin following directions for removing the dash. There is more information on removing specific parts of the dash and the fuse box at around section 90. , I only had to remove the instrument panel and the fuse box and bracket (see Capt. Mike's post above). Once all that was out, I removed the hoses for the vent on the drivers side air (again Capt. Mike makes the good call). Then I could reach in and remove the antenna.

That done, I could not put the aftermarket antenna in the same way. The VW antenna fits into a long housing. When collapsed, it can be pulled through the dash and removed form the inside. The new atenna does not have such a housing, with the result that it too long to be squeezed through the small space in the dash and installed. Since the new one could not be installed this way, I removed the grill and replaced the new one through the front.

That done, I was able to pull the wire across the back of the dash to the stereo. At that point I found that I could not re-insert the antenna wire into the stereo as easily I had removed the old one.

So, I am off to stereo shop to get a tool to remove the stereo. If that does not work, then I will have to remove the whole dash assembly to insert the antenna wire.

Oh, do not think that you can simply replace the antenna and use the old wire running from the stereo to it. The wire is fused into the metal housing of the antenna. So yes, the wire needs to be replaced at the stereo when you put in a new antenna.

Overall, it was hard to understand what motivated the engineering.

Good luck.

[This message has been edited by KeithHay (edited 05-15-2001).]


New member
I recently bought a 1989 Westy and the antenna had been broken off at the base. I wanted to replace it with a new one and ordered one from They claimed to sell an antenna for my 89 westy. It arrived yesterday and tonight I was ready to install it.

After reading the previous posts regarding the difficulty level of this project I was a bit imitimdated so before I got started I downed a couple of good strong beers. I figured I would be at it a few hours.

I must say that I was able to remove the factory antenna shortly after "dropping" the fuse box and moving the coil hose from the vent, which I pulled out by accident, I gently pushed it aside. One thing I noticed as I was dropping the fuse box was the enormous amount of wires tucked up in there. What a rats nest. Total time: 15 Minutes. I did have to bend the antenna housing a bit to get it out of the lower hole since the angle was a little tight. hmmm?.?.? fairly simple.

Now for the install of the new antenna. I wanted to use the original rubber boot and angled hard boot since it was a bit wider than the aftermarket. Plus it has the VW logo on it and it has a black matte finish ( the after market is chrome and no VW logo. I fought with it for a few minutes and decide it wasn't worth the hassle so I proceeded to use the aftermarket hardware. I tightened the nut with a deep 17MM socket, no handle. Total time: 5 minutes.

I ran the wire to the stereo w/o any problems. I did remove the lower panel in front of the shifter and then the ash tray to gain access to the top of the stereo. This 89' westy has the original Blaupunkt stereo so getting it out would have been a hassle. Through the ashtray hole is the way to gain easy access to the antenna hookup. Total time: 5 minutes.

I went to plug in the new anttena to the stereo after pulling the old one out and the ends didn't match!!! The aftermarket connection isn't correct!! What!?!?!

So I am planning on returning the aftermarket - return to and will call the dealer to see if I can get an OEM. How much is that going to cost me? I live in Seattle. The after market model was $9.95



New member
My dealer in Seattle wants $58.69 for a new OEM antenna. Now I am wondering if I should just spend another $100 and get a new deck. The front channel on the current stereo is dead anyway.

Capt. Mike

Transferred from another post to consolidate same subject.

Installing new radio antenna

RS Jennnings Junior Member # 2242 posted 09-15-2001 06:50 PM

I have a 89 Westy camper that lives with me in the city now. The other night a dark soul pulled the antenna out while it was parked in an alley leaving the base but a hole where the antenna used to be. I tried to get at it from the inside by removing the fuse assembly but it looks like it lay behind a welded plate - and it does not look like the base has any antenna left in it to reattach a mast to from the outside. Any advice by others who have faced this problem?

Laurence Smith Junior Member # 1597 posted 09-15-2001 07:06 PM

I just replaced my antennae on my 90 Westy and it was quite easy.

I bought a all-purpose antennae from my local auto store and with the antennae hole just fed down the wire into the area just behind the fuse box. There is a clear vertical path of about 1" diameter space from the hole at the top to the floor behind the fuse box. Jus feed it down and it will appear on the floor beside the clutch.

Then it is a simple matter to route the wire to the back of your radio. Getting the radio out an inch or two to remove and replace the wire can be a pain.

The radio will come out. The 4 little holes at the 4 corners of the face plate allow a small pokey lever to release the little pop-out holders. I removed the ashtray to look down and see how these operated. I used very small drill bits 1/32" as my prying devices.


Greetings, I would rather do a root canal on myself instead of installing an antenna.I had two replaced by my mechanic and about passed out when he presented me with a bill.I now have the type of antenna that allows me to just unscrew the aerial from the base and replace it with another one if necessary.


New member
I recently replaced my antenna on my 87 westy and all I did was carefully cut the base off the antenna and pushed it down into the body. Then I installed the type that has little arms, kind of like sheetrock mollies and tossed in and tightned it up. It is kind of a chinsy way to do things but I figured that I could finish the job next time I need to take the dash apart.
Just replaced the antenna on our 83 Westy. I found an easier way to do it without removing the dash or anything. I took off the grille and removed the driver's side headlamp assembly to expose the bottom of the antenna. Unscrewed the retaining nut on top where the antenna sticks out and pushed the antenna down through the bottom. Pulled it out of the little hole (remove the rubber grommet first). Cut the cable as close as possible to the body of the antenna housing. Took the new antenna (OEM from Go Westy-about $20) and pushed the metal end of the new antenna's cable into the old cable. Secured with electrical tape. Slip the little rubber grommet from the hole over the wire and slide it toward the antenna mast. Got inside and removed ashtray and pulled stereo out most of the way to expose the rat's nest of wires back there. Found the old antenna cable and pulled it through, pulling the new one along with it. Had my wife help me by holding some wires out of the way with a thin wooden dowel rod. Once the cable from the new antenna was visible we took off the tape and plugged the new cable in. Back outside. Pushed new antenna up into the hole and secured with the retaining nut. Push the rubber grommet back into the hole in the bottom. Reinstalled headlamp and grille. Total time about ten minutes and didn't have to take apart any electronics or anything.


New member
I just replaced the factory antenna my 1984 Westy with an OEM from Go Westy. I did mine a little different than I have seen here.

I removed the grill and the left headlight. Then I took out the ashtray and found the antenna lead going into the radio. I pulled it out of the radio and tied some nylon twine to this and taped it with small bit of duct tape. I used nylon twine because I didn't want it breaking or getting cut on sharp metal corners. I then removed the mast portion from the grill area. With another person helping with the push-pull process, I then pulled the old cable out until I got the string. I was getting the Westy painted, so I just tied the nylon twine to the frame near the headlight for later re-installation. Putting the new one back in was the reverse. To help seal the conical seal, which slides along the cable, I wrapped several layers of duct tape around the cable on the mast side of the concical seal to hold the seal in place so I could pull it into its hole by gently tugging on the cable. I put a dab of dish soap on the seal to help ease it into its hole. I wanted it sealed, but I didn't want to damage the cable by pulling too hard.

As I was removing the grill to paint anyway, I figure this took less than 30 minutes extra. Compared to some of the things I took off for painting, this was relatively easy.


New member
Just wanted to report that the left headlight removal method posted by "the robinson family" worked like a charm on my 89 Westy. It took no more than 15 minutes.


New member
After reading several of these posts on antennas and reviewing different sites that have images of Vanagons and their respective antennas, I have found that I have a peculiar antenna setup. Please see the attached photo and give me some help on why me Westy looks so much different!


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Capt. Mike

CB antenna

What you have is an aftermarket CB antenna. They will get regular radio reception but are not ideally tuned for it. It looks very much like somebody too lazy to properly install a correct antenna and took the easy way out down where there is nothing behind the sheet metal.

PS: I notice you are missing the protective cap on your windshield wiper; suggest you replace it ASAP as it prevents corrosion to the nut & cast splined shaft should you have to replace your arm. Spray with a protective lube, too.


New member
Thanks Capt. Mike,
Why would the factory antenna not be installed above the headlight as it is in all Vanagon applications? It is an 87 Westy GL. I was under the impression that an antenna was standard. Could it be that this van may be a European model brought to the U.S. from overseas by a private individual?
Oh and's funny you mentioned the protective caps, as they were ordered prior to these recent posts. Slowly but surely. Thanks though for the lubrication heads up!


New member
Ditto here, with similar kudos to the Robinson family. I'm really grateful that their antenna installation solution is still in the Knowledge Base 5 years after the fact. Thanks

Capt. Mike

calcite5: The antenna was a "radio preps" package and yes, almost all were ordered with it. Many dealers ordered without the radio so they could install one of their Autobahn accessory radios to either customize for the buyer and/or higher profit margins. However, it could be ordered without the preps package and thus no antenna.