Which route?


New member
I've been wanting a Westy for years!
I'm finally in a place in my life where I can afford one and have the time to utilize one.
I frequent the Cascades in Washington, my family (and dog) camp, snowboard/ski, and mountain bike.
I am a owner of a couple of Subarus and want my van to have a Subaru swap so I can get to the mountains with some ease. I also fell in love with Central America and dream of driving the Pan American highway someday in a Westy.

So here is the thing. I have found 2 Westys I like. Both sellers are 1200 miles away (different directions), however I've researched the vehicles and their owners and feel safe with both. One is a very pristine 85 that is stock with recent engine/transmission rebuild. The other is a 90 project with a swapped 2.2 Subaru engine and recently rebuilt transmission. However the project is incomplete. It needs a transmission cooler installation, and an electrical sensor. Also need to install some cosmetic tid bits. All parts are there. It runs, just don't want to make a 1,200 mile trip like that.

I could potentially fly out and drive the 85 home (fun!), and start a project from scratch.
I would have to ship the 90 and take on someones project (some risks).

Thoughts for a hopeful Westy newb?

Thanks in advance!


Uh, I'd pass on both. Right now my Westy is sitting in a friend's garage. He specializes in Subarus. At the moment there are two Subaru boxers on engine stands, both needing new head gaskets. Moreover, Craig says that's the repair he sees most often with these engines. Do you want to inherit that? Picking up on someone else's project means really having to go back to zero to figure out what's going on and then praying that the work to date is reasonably right. And to drag it 1200 miles home into the bargain?

If the '85 is really and truly sanitary super-clean, and if it were at least in the same state, it'd be worth looking into it. However, it's my understanding that it's the 86-91 water boxers that got it right - '85 and earlier water boxers, not so much If you've invested in getting 1200 miles down the road, planning to drive the van back, your objectivity is likely to be ...oh... I dunno... maybe almost out the window? Unless you've polygraphed the seller and had an independent real (not claims to be) expert survey the vehicle, I'd let it all go. Look closer to home.

FWIW, our '90 Westy was bought in NH, about what? 400+ miles from home. We did a one way rental (no real plan on returning home if the van was a dead loser) and liked what we saw. 'Course, we let little things like a shot shifter and downright scary PO-installed wiring slide by. In the main, the Westy has worked out well. Changing the shifter is easier than it might seem. Replacing the front end bushings was not so easy. I think I've conquered the bulk of the scary wiring. I'm still trying to get the AC running. I can't say that we would have passed on the vehicle if it were for sale in the same state, but being 400+ miles from home certainly lowered our threshold of acceptance.