View original topic: Westfalia shipping / transport experience
Vanuber Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:30 am

I wanted to give some details of my recent experience shipping a 85 Westy from California to Virginia. I relied heavily on the Samba forum to inform my process but still felt like I was walking blindly. I'm hoping this helps others along the way.

The details:

- After exhaustive research I ended up going with a broker - 4 Corners Transport - primarily based on their Samba recommendations. I worked with Ellen who was very pleasant. They offer door-to-door shipping which is important as they will pick up and drop off as close to your residence as possible. The vehicle stays with one carrier and won't be moved from one transport to another at shipping depots along the way.

- Ellen informed me that vehicles 84" or taller will not fit on traditional 10-car transports. My Westy was right at 84" which required me to use a 3-car flatbed. This significantly increased the cost from $1,250 to $2,150. My Westy has stock springs, Bilstein camper shocks and 16" GW rims, so I assume this would be the case for most Westies?

- They put a bid out for my vehicle and got a response the next day from Taurus Auto Group. Their plan was to use 2 bays on a traditional 10 car hauler (loading up top and dropping it into the bay below). I researched Taurus and their reviews were honestly pretty lousy. I called Ellen to discuss and she said their system (a proprietary database for transport brokers I think) had a positive rating for them. I decided to cancel the agreement since I was paying $900 more for a flatbed and with a flatbed there would potentially be less loading/unloading and opportunity for damage. I ended up having second thoughts about canceling based on all the positive feedback for 4 Corners and decided to roll with it and trust their judgment.

- The van is picked up the next day and low and behold they brought a 3-car flatbed after all. Denis from Moldova was my driver and the previous owner was very helpful in accommodating shipping. Loaded up and rolling home!

- The van was picked up on a Friday and scheduled for delivery the following Tuesday - an impressive schedule. I called Denis on Monday to see how things were going. He was short on the phone but polite. He said he was struggling to meet the schedule, without explanation, but would call me on Tuesday. Tuesday evening came and he would not arrive until 11pm that night. I wanted to take the delivery in daylight to inspect for damages so we agreed to meet the following morning.

- Wednesday morning I call the driver an hour after our loose meeting time and he is 15 minutes away. We finally get to see the van in person and meet Denis. He was a man of few words though seemed like a nice guy. I gave the van a thorough look over prior to signing the release and found a 4" scratch on the driver's side rear panel, probably from a tree limb. The driver had documented the car well prior to loading and confirmed it was not there before. He suggested calling his manager but I told him to forget about it as I was not going to have the scratch fixed anyway. All good and we both departed.

- I read around for advice on tipping. There are mixed reviews where some say tipping is not expected while others insist on tipping $50, $100, or more. I was planning to tip $50 but was dissuaded in the end by the damage and the fact he arrived a day late. Anyway, if all had gone well I felt a $50 tip would have been worthy.

The takeaways:

- The whole vehicle shipping industry feels very shrouded and difficult to navigate without a broker
- I would suggest going with a broker though know they are contracting someone else to move the vehicle.
- Look for door-to-door shipping and good insurance (though it seems most brokers only qualify transport companies that meet these requirements anyway)
- From my experience, most Westfalias will require flatbed transport or two bays on a traditional transport. This significantly increased the cost from $1,250 to $2,150 in my case.
- Prepare for some anxiety until your van reaches you safely. For me, the whole experience felt like a dice roll with fingers crossed that my beautiful Westy would reach me in one piece.

I guess I would recommend 4 Corners Transport (shrug)? Ellen was nice to work with. But they are a broker, not the driver, and it feels like you just don't know what you are going to get. In my case, I was told they would pick it up on a 10 car transport and they showed up with a flatbed. The driver was nice enough, but never called me without me calling him first. He was a day late and there is a new scratch in the original paint. But hey, the van made it 2,500 miles in 5 days and the best unmolested Westy I've come across in our 9-month search is sitting in my driveway:)

campism Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:33 am

Congrats, and thanks for the review! Can't believe nobody saw it en route and posted a pic in the Spotters thread.

dobryan Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:05 am

Good work. Beautiful Westy. :D

jimf909 Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:05 am

That looks like a very nice van.

I've had cars relocated due to work moves twice. Once the Vanagon was inside the moving van and the other time a '65 Rambler Classic 770 was moved on a car hauler. The van emerged from the trailer with some paint worn to the primer and the Rambler had a six-inch gouge in the underbody where the driver attempted to secure his hook into some sheet metal.

Moving cars doesn't seem to be the most straightforward process.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Vanuber Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:25 pm

Thanks for the posts. Good to see some other East coasters here!

Jim, sorry about your damages. That's a tough pill to swallow on a classic vehicle.

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