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tam_shops Sun Jan 20, 2013 3:23 pm

Wondering if anyone has compared their Vanagon to the Toyota or Mitsubishi camper vans?

And, why you prefer the VW one?

I keep seeing the other brands pop up on CL and some are newer than the 1989-91 Vanagons I'm looking for. Wondering if there are any pros and what the cons are to them?

Saw on youtube someone comparing two and looked like the Toyota one smoked the Vanagon's butt. Personally, I do not like the others are Right Hand Drive, accident waiting to happen and I have bad luck. And, I *must* have two forward facing rear seats for my kids' car seats.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqdiyRLBb4U

I've wanted a VW camper van since I was in gd 4 and a friend's parent had one. Checked them out in the early 90s but they were out of my price range...

Crankey Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:06 pm

I prefer it cause I'm a VW guy. I don't see anything about the toy that "smokes" the VW.

my 3.0 subaru H6 will smoke his 2.whatever in a heartbeat.

totally personal preference. I would guess the VW world has more support than the Toyota...but I have no idea if there is a big aftermarket for old Toyota vans.

syncrodoka Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:14 pm

If you don't know already why you want a vanagon then you should shop for a vehicle that has 15+ cupholders. :roll:

Zeitgeist 13 Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:15 pm

tam_shops wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqdiyRLBb4U



That Toyota looks like the interior trim was the "Brothel Limited Edition".

One more islander... Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:16 pm

We're a group of enthusiasts, and like any group of enthusiasts....just because! This is probably the wrong place to ask...

DAIZEE Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:31 pm

I've owned VW vehicles and Toyota vehicles over several decades and I'd say the VW beats the other handily. Quality of steel used seems to be superior too. Personal preference.

danbar Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:33 pm

I'm a VW guy trough and through but I've always wanted to check out the Toyota Hiace from overseas. 4wd plus diesel models available. Looks intriguing. I saw these all over Australia.


D Clymer Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:57 pm

I think the four main advantages the Vanagon has over the Toyota and Mitsubishi vans are as follows:

1. Interior volume.
2. Walk through between seats.
3. Solidity of body construction.
4. Roadholding and handling.

The Vanagon has superb road manners and it's ride and handling is in a completely different league than the contemporary Japanese vans. Both the Mitsubishi and Toyota vans ride on an extremely short 88 inch wheelbase and have a non-independent live rear axle. Additionally they have very poor weight distribution - 60/40, front/rear. These things matter.

But if you find the Toyota or Mitsubishi more appealing than a Vanagon there's no reason why you shouldn't consider one.

D

photogdave Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:57 pm

If you read the forums for the Japanese vehicles you'll find a lot of ex-Vanagon owners who got tired of the constant small repairs and occasional big expensive repairs, and wanted a vehicle that is newer and more "reliable".
The Delicas especially attract these types of owners and they seem willing to compromise on the lack of interior space, inconvenient engine location and lack of camping amenities (although there are some models with nearly all the equipment of a Westy).
Especially comparing Delicas to Syncros there are many ex-Syncro owners praising the Delica's off-road capabilities, ruggedness and superior stock motor (turbo diesel).
However I'm seeing that the earliest Delicas that were imported to Canada are now starting to suffer from major mechanical issues and are costly to repair. My brother has a couple of the little pickup trucks that he really loves but is selling them because the maintenance cost is cutting into his business profits.
The Delicas don't hold their value as well as Westys and Syncros and I've seen them selling for close to 50% of what they originally cost to import.
I think they're cool rigs but not for me. Last summer at the ExPo Rally there as a Delica owner from BC who was actually pretty rude to me because I have a Syncro Westy. He laughed and called me a "future Delica owner."
I quietly laughed back as I watched him pitch his tent in the wind because his "camper van" didn't have a bed inside.

Vinzanto Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:58 pm

In my opinion the shear legacy that VW carries over from the Split and Bay Busses into the absolutely versatile Westfalia Vanagon as well as 4WD Syncros (that can go toe to toe with a Jeep) are reason enough to sway an individual on purchase choice.
This is also a full home on wheel, that if given the opportunity, can become nearly self-sustainable, and even the most difficult repair jobs can be done road-side in the middle of the Mohave or elsewhere without draining the pocket book, only assisted by some JB weld and ear plugs.

1621 Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:11 pm

tam_shops wrote: Wondering if anyone has compared their Vanagon to the Toyota or Mitsubishi camper vans?

And, why you prefer the VW one?

I keep seeing the other brands pop up on CL and some are newer than the 1989-91 Vanagons I'm looking for. Wondering if there are any pros and what the cons are to them?

Saw on youtube someone comparing two and looked like the Toyota one smoked the Vanagon's butt. Personally, I do not like the others are Right Hand Drive, accident waiting to happen and I have bad luck. And, I *must* have two forward facing rear seats for my kids' car seats.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqdiyRLBb4U

I've wanted a VW camper van since I was in gd 4 and a friend's parent had one. Checked them out in the early 90s but they were out of my price range...

I've got both a Vanagon camper and a '97 Mitsubishi Delica Spacegear. For those unfamiliar with the Delicas they're essentially a Syncro with a true 4wd with reduction gearing. The L300s are similar in styling to the Vanagon in that they're boxy looking a similar size, while the L400s like mine are bigger and shaped like a football. Both the L300 and 400 are available in Canada, not in the US. I'll talk mainly about the Delica since most here are very familiar with the Vanagon.

There's a lot to like about the Delicas. I'd argue their running gear is every bit as strong as the Vanagon, maybe stronger, and the engine/gearing combination leaves little to be desired. Coupled with incredible reliability and a factory diesel that pulls stumps and you've got a very stout van indeed. The 4wd system is well designed, and allows for full-time 4wd, part time hi, and part time low through a proper transfer case. No lockers on mine, but I'm sure they're available in the aftermarket if that's your thing.

I much prefer the suspension and handling of the Vanagon. I may be jaded as I've done extensive work to get the Westy suspension in order with a number of "performance-minded" modifications, and done nothing to the Delica. Consequently, the Vanagon handles very smoothly with an almost sporting feel, while the Delica feels more like a big ship when cornering. There is a "sport" mode that stiffens the shock setting, but it's still a big van. Still there's no wind buffeting when passing big trucks, and the suspension swallows up bumps and ruts rendering them nearly unnoticeable. In that regard the Delica is very nice. However, a simple u-turn in a Vanagon necessitates a three or five point turn in a Delica. This is likely a result of my model having the engine in front. The L300 is still a cab over design and will likely achieve a tighter turning radius.

The Delica definitely has a small community of dedicated followers, but not to the extent of VW which owes much to the split and bay heritage. There is an aftermarket, but it seems primarily based in Australia, the UK, and more recently in Canada. I can't say much about Japan due to the difficulties with written language, but I would guess there's good aftermarket support here as well. And still, if I had to pick one over the other, I'd go with my Westy without a doubt. There's something about the character of VW that keeps me hooked. The Delica is great in all respects (including all six cup holders), and the quality is undeniable, but the Vanagon is my vehicle of choice.

One anecdotal observation is many of the owners on the Delica forums admit to being former VW van owners who were tired of the little things going wrong. They are quick to point out that they spend more time enjoying they're vans than repairing them, but that they too miss the character of their old VWs.

Azul Tortuga Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:11 pm

If those early model mitsubishi's were here in the states I wouldn't be apposed to one. They're tough looking, 4wheel drive, have great clearance and I'm sure are reliable.

SCM Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:26 pm

1621,

That was the most well written, enjoyable to read, and insightful post I may have ever read on the internet. Thanks.

IdahoDoug Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:11 pm

1621,

Nice balanced review.

One point for the Vanagons is the incredibly large interior with its tall ceiling and nearly vertical flat walls. I once measured mine with a tape measure compared to a buddy's late model Chrysler Minivan. I was absolutely astonished how big the Van's door openings were and the way the interior is so functional. No greenhouse curving in for styling - pure function!!

DougM

thummmper Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:27 pm

my next van will be a 96 previa. I will put a v6 under the back seat and enjoy sitting behind the front wheels. the carriage works are superior in quite a few ways, but there is an enduring love for my vanagon. It has a cool you never outgrow.
I just like the previa for an aerodynamic/ mileage experiment among other tests. the seats absolutely kick ass. the ac system is standard and innovative. dependable through and through. The floor is 6" higher than vanagon as well.
the frame rails are 43" apart, affording a nice cavity for a 255 hp power kit.
I have found that she doesnt smoke the tires as much as hook up and just act like a normal, contemporary vehicle. with overdrive.

I have to admit the front engine architecture with a slope nose is better in a crosswind.

tam_shops Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:03 am

One more islander... wrote: We're a group of enthusiasts, and like any group of enthusiasts....just because! This is probably the wrong place to ask...

Just because! That IS why I want a Vanagon and always have, started to ask myself "why" when I saw the other ones and when spending $12,000 and $4,000 for upgrades, personally needed a better analysis than that! I saw the Silkroads ones: http://www.silkroadautos.com/
They're newer, have head rests and then saw that review and how it smoked the Vanagon's butt, the one big criticism of the Vanagon.


1621 wrote:
I've got both a Vanagon camper and a '97 Mitsubishi Delica Spacegear. For those unfamiliar with the Delicas they're essentially a Syncro with a true 4wd with reduction gearing. The L300s are similar in styling to the Vanagon in that they're boxy looking a similar size, while the L400s like mine are bigger and shaped like a football. Both the L300 and 400 are available in Canada, not in the US. I'll talk mainly about the Delica since most here are very familiar with the Vanagon.


THANK YOU!!! I was hoping someone would have have/tried/owned both and could compare them, but didn't expect such a great answer!


D Clymer wrote: I think the four main advantages the Vanagon has over the Toyota and Mitsubishi vans are as follows:

1. Interior volume.
2. Walk through between seats.
3. Solidity of body construction.
4. Roadholding and handling.

The Vanagon has superb road manners and it's ride and handling is in a completely different league than the contemporary Japanese vans. Both the Mitsubishi and Toyota vans ride on an extremely short 88 inch wheelbase and have a non-independent live rear axle. Additionally they have very poor weight distribution - 60/40, front/rear. These things matter.

But if you find the Toyota or Mitsubishi more appealing than a Vanagon there's no reason why you shouldn't consider one.


THANK YOU!!! Reasons like that tell me not to even bother test driving a Delica b/c it's how you get sucked into something you don't want b/c you're tired of waiting for the right Vanagon to come along! LOL

Thank you everyone for validating my "Just because" answer and adding some intelligent logic, rational and mechanical differences to it!

tam

geo_tonz Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:39 am

Take one for a test drive any way. I did and I still decided on my vanagon. For me it is far more utilitarian, but I also didn't get a $12k westy. Just a nice semi-reliable rust bucket that I fit my entire bathroom renovation in/on, seats 2 families of 4 with a spare seat and still gets me waves on the highway. Those Delicas were very pricey in 2008 and then ICBC made noises about RHD vehicle imports. Not sure if any new restrictions were put in place but after that the Delica and Pajero prices dropped 20%. I really did 't like RHD or the fact that there would be no scouring the wreckers for parts. I knew what a vanagon was as they were actually a NA vehicle, so I went with that.

AdrianC Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:02 am

Just about the most common JDM-grey-import camper that's "Vanagon-ish" over here is the Mazda Bongo/Ford Freda. They're quite a chunk smaller inside. No downstairs bed, and the upstairs one in the poptop's very compromised - the one we had a good look around had a hatch in the middle of the bed support for access. If one person wanted to get out whilst the other was in bed still, the one remaining had to move to one side to allow the mattress to be moved...

There's various "cool camper hire" firms using Previas - all with home-brew interiors.

Jake de Villiers Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:56 am

Aside from the fact that the steering wheel's on the wrong side, all those Japanese vans are quite small on the inside compared to a Vanagon. Even the Eurovan's interior volume is vastly reduced when compared to a van.

We have had a four-piece bluegrass band (banjo, mandolin, guitar and double bass!) playing in Dixie in crappy weather. There's absolutely no way you could do that with any other smaller camper. ;)

I can't imagine how stressful it would be to get your kids out the slider on the shoulder of I-80 to let them pee...

PDXWesty Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:07 am

I ran into this Delica one day at the coast. The owner said the interior was actually pretty cramped for three guys. It did look smaller than the Vanagon without all the creature comfort. The rack up top was homemade from PVC pipe.




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