Curbside Classic 1988 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia – Slow Expensive… — Volkswagen Vanagon

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Volkswagen Vanagon

Curbside Classic: 1988 Vanagon Westfalia – Slow, And Loved The World Over

18, 2012

The VW Vanagon was one of the last of the old VW, the VW that emerged from the of World War II and, against all became a going concern. with the 1974 VW Golf/Rabbit, the new VW to take over, with a front-mounted engine and front drive. The Vanagon, introduced for the model year, was the last new VW design, if not the last one in production. VW sold well in the 1950s the 1970s, but how could such a van last into the 1990s in the US competition like the Chrysler Two things kept it going: European sales, and plain old

The Vanagon, like most VWs, was one polarizing vehicle. You it or hated it. VW didn’t care to it safe with a conventional Well, it was a conventional design for VW, but to the competition, it was anything but! vans owned the market in the and 1960s, (some years won by default, as there was no real for a while, at least in the States) as vans were either thirstier, or less passenger Starting in the early 1960s, vans like the Dodge Ford Econoline and Corvair attempted to cash in on the VW’s packaging, but by 1970 all those were either gone or due to be with upsized versions.

The second generation “bay VW Bus had been around since and while 1978 US sales of was not too bad for a ten year old design, 1979 tanked, to the tune of 15,990. in other countries were good, but it was time for a new model. VW was not to rest on their laurels. wanted their vans to competitive, which meant not behind in features or styling. the Vanagon came on the scene in as it was called in the US market (it was still Transporter in Europe).

The 1980 was an all new design, save powerplants. compared to the outgoing 1979 the wheelbase was increased a bit (to 96.8″) and was up by three inches. The fuel was newly relocated to beneath the seats, and underneath, the tried and torsion bar suspension was no longer on Vanagons now used unequal-length coil springs and tube up front, while the rear a semi-trailing arm design, again coil springs and tube

Early versions of the Vanagon true to their roots, air cooled engines, and readily by the lack of the lower radiator That snappy black upper grille was fake! Oh, the A 2.0 L horizontally opposed (naturally) cylinder was hiding out back, 67 horsepower. A four speed was standard, with automatic

As had been the case with the Type 2 Transporter and Microbus, things were slow! then, maybe dangerous at least on the highway. Zero to was about 21 seconds with the transmission. Despite the easygoing all Vanagons had 50/50 weight and were much improved However, the best handling in the would not get me to pass a car on a two lane in one of

While the rest of the world got a variety of single and double cab panel vans and passenger the US received only seven and seat passenger vans, a two Kombi van, and of course, the Westfalia camper. Vanagons much more carlike their immediate predecessor, standard carpeting and fancier This extra comfort at a higher price though, at $9500 in 1980 ($26,000

Volkswagen and Westfalia go way back to the VW Transporter. Of course, there was a version. If anything, these were even more than previous versions. If you had the this was a pretty cool to take camping (as I’m sure Freeman will agree). You got a countertop stove, electrical on the outside, loads of storage and and “downstairs” sleeping areas. vans were a marvel of efficiency. Let those Caravan and drivers laugh, you weren’t to see them camping in their

Interestingly, Westfalia Vanagons not called such in literature and they were simply the Camper, though Westfalia Winnebago of Germany; i.e. well known) badging was on them.

Those early were a little lacking, The air cooled engine, being up in the back, was rather prone to and naturally, the heater was less impressive. It had been thirty since American customers had experienced the “mouse breathing on foot” efficiency of the Volkswagen system. But with air cooling, not much room for improvement, so for a 1.9 L “Wasserboxer” water cooled replaced the air cooled engine. An grille was added below the grille that contained an radiator. Naturally, heating was improved on cold morning Power was also slightly up, to 82 hp. All the were great, but you were not going to be drag racing one of things. You could, however, be in the knowledge that you could the doors off a 1950 VW van.

brought additional changes, the visible change being a new with rectangular headlights. new was a 2.1L (2109 cc, 129 cubic Wasserboxer. It produced 95 horsepower at rpm, and while not a hot rod, was good for a VW van. Vanagons even more civilized year, as power windows, locks and power heated were added to the option

Volkswagen Vanagon

Perhaps the biggest news was the of an all wheel drive model, the It was the first AWD passenger van in the US, and was available in standard Vanagon and Camper In normal operation, 95% power to the rear wheels. When the between the front and rear exceeded 6%, power was added to the wheels as well. Syncros rode 1.2″ higher regular Vanagons.

For someone who wanted to get away from it a Syncro Camper may have just the ticket – assuming you had pockets. Rear wheel ’86 Vanagons were at approximately the price level, inflation as in 1980 at $13,140, but the Syncro alone cost $2,175. And if you a Camper Syncro, you were to need $19,335 – over in 2012 dollars.

For comparison, you have gotten a new ’86 Plymouth LE for $10,528 – and that was for the top of the line Yes, you’re not going to do any camping or go off road in one, but was an optional second and third row folded into a bed, you had a more get up and go power-wise, and you’d right into mid-1980s It was a safe choice.

I’ll go even further. A Volvo 740 Turbo wagon was Yes, I know that one of Turbo bricks was a very vehicle from a Synchro and $1375 was a lot more money than it is today. But it does as an example of what else you get for twenty grand in 1986.


By the mid Vanagons were having lunch eaten by the now-ubiquitous minivans, not to mention the Chevy Safari and the Ford Aerostar. vans were more less finicky, and you didn’t to deal with the sometimes than grand VW dealer As a result, only 12,669 sold in ’86, and by 1988 down to 5,416. Sales in the 5,000 range through the end of in 1991. You could most still get a new Vanagon in 1992 as dealers had lots of leftover

I found our featured Vanagon in almost the exact same as the ’72 MGB GT. while in Clinton for lunch in April. You just don’t see much anymore, and this one was in good shape. It looks to be a model, as it has the new grille and five alloy wheels. It appeared to be in for at the import car shop it was parked in of, as the instrument cluster was partially Bad speedometer, maybe?

The Vanagon was replaced by the front front wheel drive which was much more in the of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth but did not exactly set the world on fire at least in the US. The Vanagon did live on in Africa, however, all the way to 2002. were neat, quirky but as VW and other European makes out, sometimes quirky is an taste.

Volkswagen Vanagon
Volkswagen Vanagon
Volkswagen Vanagon

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