Page 1 of 1

'83 Vanagon

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:00 am
by joshuashredwards
I am scheduled to see a '83 air cooled Westfalia Vanagon for sale today and would appreciate any advice on potentially purchasing a Vanagon from this year. I have read mixed reviews on the air cooled Vanagons, which make me a little nervous. :

1980-1983: The Vanagon was introduced in 1980 with the same 2000cc EFI engine that was used in the last of the Buses. These air-cooled Vanagons, although functionally a great improvement over their Bus predecessors, are the worst of the Vanagons, and maybe even the least desirable of any VW van ever made. The 2000cc air-cooled engine was simply not up to the task of pushing around an even bigger, heavier box. Typical engine life is about 90,000 miles. Additionally, the first stab at the 4-speed shifter system was a complete failure and was totally re-designed with the introduction of the gasoline water-cooled model in late 1983. A good specimen of an air-cooled Vanagon pop-top will run between $2500 and $5000, but we recommend steering clear of any air-cooled Vanagon.

Any thoughts?

Re: '83 Vanagon

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:09 am
by Jivermo
Hey, Josh! Glad you signed on here. I tend to agree, but I'd like to hear Colin's take on this subject. I just don't read much about the early air cooled models. My 2 friends with water cooled Vanagons have thousands of fairly trouble free miles on their vehicles. One couple, I mentioned, have traveled and lived in their early 1984 water cooled for 4 years.

Re: '83 Vanagon

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:53 pm
by cegammel
I love my '80...but I also like pain...and work...

I am a cheap bastard. I would not pay $20k for a vehicle of any type. But, I would spend $500 on a busted bus and $19,500 learning to repair it. I think the air cooled Vanagon is a great vehicle. Parts are becoming scarce, but that is true for any type iv, I think. As for a choice of Vanagon vs. Bus, get the one you like. No doubt that the bus will have higher resale value. Waterboxer? I would like to have one, but they do have their own issues. Again, I love my aircooled. The body has at least 198000 miles, with three engines. The most recent engine has 11000 miles, mostly trouble free. The odometer did not work from'94 until I repaired it in 2015, so real miles are unknown...

Good luck in your search!

Re: '83 Vanagon

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:10 am
by joshuashredwards
Thank you for the insight!

Re: '83 Vanagon

Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:58 pm
by asiab3
GoWesty's writings sound like they're trying to sell you a $60k water-cooled Vanagon. Air-cooled vans can be great travel companions; I would trust a well-sorted air-cooled van over a cobbled together water-cooled van. Unfortunately, it takes grit and perseverance to get most air-cooled vans for sale today back to where they were before people started cheating on the repairs and maintenance required.

Good luck, got any pictures?

Re: '83 Vanagon

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:27 am
by joshuashredwards
Unfortunately, the Vanagon was not all it was cracked up to be. For now, the search continues!
Thanks again for the advice.


Re: '83 Vanagon

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:22 pm
by TrollFromDownBelow
FWIW ... I seriously considered a Vanagon when I first went searching 12 years ago... At that time I wanted to make it my DD, and here in the Midwest, the galvanized steal they used was much more resistant to rust vs. a bay. I changed my mind after I sat behind one ..... felt more like a minivan vs. the nostalgic feeling of the 71 bus I had owned in college....but, that is a personal/qualitative decision. Vanagons do have a nicer layout if you are looking for a Westy. I haven't seen the comparative comps on weight, hp, etc. but would not turn down a Vanagon b/c it was aircooled (unless you want real heat :flower: ) The wasserboxers have issues with head-gaskets, so from a reliability standpoint I'd say they are equal. Aircooled Vanagons are a good value if you find one in the right condition.