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  View original topic: 1985 Westy Purchased and home! First issues *Updated 11/16 Page: 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Jim Bear Wed Oct 21, 2020 4:58 am

OK. Throwing this out there. I am a Bay guy from back in the day but want to get into a Vanagon camper as I believe the wife will be happier camping in it than in the '74 tin-top Westy. We are looking to get into camping and traveling more often now that our oldest is almost ready to fly the coop and I believe that a Vanagon will provide the amenities, room, and "modern" feel that will make my bride more comfortable. An 85 found me just recently and it is relatively local, the specs are below. I feel good about it. Thoughts? Observations? As I am not a Vanagon guy, yet, what should I be looking for and what questions should I be asking. I am heading to see it this weekend. I should add that part of the deal, with my wife, is that this is a daily driver for the foreseeable future, 1-2 years. It would see about 45 miles of commuting a day, mostly rural highway.

~1985 Vanagon GL Westfalia, manual transmission
~185k on chassis
~Most drive train and cooling components were replaced 6 years (19,000 miles) ago. Upgraded to 2.1l engine and had a problem with it. Warranty covered replacement (14,000 miles ago) a few months later and
all is well now. Rebuilt transmission, replaced clutch, radiator, alternator, starter, cv's, and more at time of engine rebuild
~Kept in the garage all but 7 years of its life
~Current owner is 2nd owner (20 years), most service records available
~Scraped side of a snowbank in 2004 and scratched sliding door and rear quarter panel. Repaired dents and repainted the original color. That was the only time it was in snow and the only accident owner is aware of.
~Muffler 15,000 miles ago
~All new rubber hoses 5000 miles ago
~New top canvas 4 years
~Refrigerator works AC, DC, LP!
~New large LP tank 19,000 miles ago
~Replace inner tie rod ends, radius rod bushings, shift rod bushings, gear shift lever ball, front discs and pads and new tires Oct Ď19
~AC is not connected. When it worked, it was not very good. When the compressor needed replacing the owner cut the belt. Estimate $1000 for new compressor and install.
~Cruise control not installed but all original parts available. Was not reconnected with new engine.
~Some rust under driver side rear window and rear chrome bumper
~Slide in single-seat in rear
~Original curtains and upholstery in good condition.

sanchius Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:40 am

Jim Bear wrote: I feel good about it. Thoughts? Observations?
Trust your feelings on this. It sounds like it's been well taken care of.

- Check how extensive the rust is on the undercarriage and behind/below the kitchen unit.
- even with all the previous work, be prepared for more upkeep items
- either way, change your fuel lines if you do get it.

The 45 miles per day commute is a worry, particularly during the shakedown period. While I often commuted in mine because it was nice to be able to use it as a mobile office when I wanted, I can't say that these make the best commuter vehicles for simply going back and forth to work.

Mobile Office: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=8530154#8530154
Also, get a dash-cam if you are commuting. Read the story 3 posts below the above Mobile Office post.

MarkWard Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:50 am

We donít miss our bay camper one bit. If the commute included a lot of stop and go, Iíd lean towards an automatic. Iíve been stuck in rush hour traffic jams and stop and go sucks in a vanagon. Otherwise VW intended for them to be driven daily. I think you will enjoy the upgrade.

jimf909 Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:01 am

It sounds like a good start. Sanchius is spot-on regarding concerns for the shakedown period. I've done thousands of 40 mile daily commutes in my '85 and '90 and arrived at work and home every single day except one (cv joint) so the Vanagon can do it, it just takes maintenance.

Quote: I believe that a Vanagon will provide the amenities, room, and "modern" feel that will make my bride more comfortable.

Your wife sounds patient and caring having put up with a '74 all these years. She's wants an upgrade. Comfort is important. You're in GA looking at a car with broken AC which does not solve the need for comfort.

I know you didn't ask, but if comfort is a priority, I strongly recommend leapfrogging the Vanagon and looking at a Eurovan. The Vanagon is an antique, the Eurovan is mostly a modern car and is a different world in terms of comfort (depending on your definition of comfort, but quieter, easier entry, plush seats and even airbags may be parts of the comfort equation).

Edit: p.s. My sister has had a Eurovan Weekender for nearly 20 years, raised their kids in it etc. When they wanted a camping upgrade they bought a Casita trailer and started pulling that with the Eurovan, i.e. it easily supports options in the future.

sanchius Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:06 am

jimf909 wrote: I know you didn't ask, but if comfort is a priority, I strongly recommend leapfrogging the Vanagon and looking at a Eurovan. The Vanagon is an antique, the Eurovan is mostly a modern car and is a different world in terms of comfort.
X2 on the Eurovan comfort recommendation.

See comparison here: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=9190536#9190536
It's hard to believe that awesome weekend was just a year, rather than a lifetime, ago

16CVs Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:04 am

Keep looking and buy a newer van, preferably after 1988. The reasons have been covered a million time sin the forums.
Learn to use the FAQ's and your questions will be answered.

Stacy

Ahwahnee Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:39 am

16CVs wrote: Keep looking and buy a newer van, preferably after 1988...

I'll respectfully disagree with that. Some (especially GoWesty) have made much of the differences between Digijet/round headlight vans and Digifant/rectangular headlight vans. So much so that there is a reasonable expectation that you can get a better van for your money with an 84 or 85.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both models but most of those are trumped by the condition, maintenance history and rust present on any particular candidate.

When we got our 84 my wife used it as a daily driver in LA (Orange County actually) for several years. Later we lived in it for 3 long spells including one year-long trip. There is nothing inherent in the Digijet design that should prevent you from having a reliable vehicle.

As for the subject vehicle... AC can work very well and may be important where you live and plan to travel. $1000 may be light depending on what you discover in the system and how much of the work you do yourself.

Did 85s offer factory cruise control? In any case an aftermarket cc is readily available and a fairly simple installation.

Good luck.

valvecovergasket Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:22 am

sanchius wrote:
The 45 miles per day commute is a worry, particularly during the shakedown period.

i think once any bugs are worked out itll make a great commuter - hes in a not super harsh climate (im guessing, based on GA location), and he said rural highway.

if it was 45 miles of 85mph+ freeway commuting somewhere, id pass.
if it was 45 miles of bumper to bumper traffic in a harsher climate, id probably also pass.

i did a roughly 60 mile rural highway commute in our (diesel! :shock: ) van for quite a while after we bought it and shook some of the bugs out. the van hes describing sounds much nicer sorted than the shoddily swapped diesel we bought that had been sitting for years.
granted this commute was in the portland area without snow or super hot summers, also on a 55mph speed limit rural highway with slight rolling hills, i stuck to the right lane doing 50-55 without issue. and it was great!

MarkWard Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:39 am

I own a 82 camper and a 90 camper. Hands down, the 82 is esthetically more my taste. Especially coming from a Bay. So it really is personal taste, early or late. Mechanically not enough differences to worry about.

Yellow Rabbit Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:03 am

Donít buy into the later model hype. Iíve owned both newer and later. Iím sitting in my 85 having lunch right now and I wouldnít trade it for anything.

jimf909 Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:39 pm

I prefer my '90 to the '85 I had. I like the grey interior and a few of the '90 changes but reliability-wise, both have been terrific.

If you prefer the brown interior get an earlier van. If color doesn't matter decide on the product changes you prefer over the years (everything from a closet door that opens over the table to different wiring and fuse boxes to different suspension bits in addition to the stated engine changes).

Georgia Cracker Thu Oct 22, 2020 4:29 am

I have an '85 Westy (not for sale) in Loganville, not far from Watkinsville. Let me know if you want to talk and compare notes.

I am also curious if this is the same Jim Bear that was affiliated with Thermo Materials way back in the distant past. It would be fun to catch up.

Jim Bear Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:15 am

Georgia Cracker wrote: I have an '85 Westy (not for sale) in Loganville, not far from Watkinsville. Let me know if you want to talk and compare notes.

I am also curious if this is the same Jim Bear that was affiliated with Thermo Materials way back in the distant past. It would be fun to catch up.

Thanks for the offer G-Cracker and no affiliation. Thanks for all the other feedback as well folks. Honestly, my tastes run with the 86 and up models. That being said, I am on a limited budget and we all know getting into a Vannie nowadays is difficult for something "go" ready for under $20k. I could almost write my own ticket if I sold my '74 hardtop Westy in the garage with the condition it is in, but I can't quite bear to let that go just yet. This Vanagon comes in at about $2k under my budget, there is considerable provenance, and it appears "go" ready for all intents and purposes. I should also mention that it found me; it is not publically for sale. The owner saw a post of mine in a Facebook group about wanting a Vanagon and he reached out. If I get it, it will be doing its first (shakedown?) trip at the beginning of November from Athens, GA to Woodstock, VA; 1000miles round trip...ambition.

Keep the feedback and commentary coming if you have anything to add prior to me looking at it this weekend.

Wellington Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:18 pm

Model year may be a personal taste, interior color etc. but one thing I think is important is in late 1985, the sliding door changed to the later style. A big improvement. This would make a 1985 a good deal to me. If it had the early slider, I'd likely pass.

crazyvwvanman Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:31 pm

All 85 and newer got the improved sliding door. All 84 and older got the less desirable sliding door.

The year referred to is the model year, determined by the 10th digit of the vin#. Like VW explains in the beginning of the Bentley.

People have had amazing trips and good long term relationships with every year Vanagon. Condition is the most important consideration to me though I prefer 87 and newer. VW made improvements during every year, some bigger some smaller.

Mark

Vanagon Nut Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:52 pm

Jim Bear wrote: This Vanagon comes in at about $2k under my budget, there is considerable provenance, and it appears "go" ready for all intents and purposes. I should also mention that it found me; it is not publically for sale. The owner saw a post of mine in a Facebook group about wanting a Vanagon and he reached out. If I get it, it will be doing its first (shakedown?) trip at the beginning of November from Athens, GA to Woodstock, VA; 1000miles round trip...ambition.

Keep the feedback and commentary coming if you have anything to add prior to me looking at it this weekend.

There's lots of factors that affect this, e.g. QC of work done, age-quality of caliper cores used for rebuilts etc. but comparing my '88 and '81 Westy brakes, all in good condition, they have about the same braking capacity and feel.

Some say that the '86+ style brakes are better but to me, I don't feel a big or even appreciable difference. But, the 86+ steering knuckle will accept a "big brake" set up. And, it may be easier to get 86+ rebuilt callipers and maybe overall, those cores have seen less rebuild cycles. But, I doubt those are issues at all; I easily found rebuilt callipers for my '81 about 1.5 years ago.

I still have NOS SA big brake parts in a box waiting to be installed but so far, haven't felt a push to install them on my '88. That said, I've never driven a Vanagon with a big brake upgrade.

IIRC, 1985 Vanagons can have either the later style radius rod vs the early style radius arm that bolts to lower control arm. IMO, the later style might be less of a pita to take apart but then it's all just metal, rusting away.... ;)

Neil.

Jim Bear Sun Oct 25, 2020 12:17 pm

I went and looked at George today and sealed the deal with a deposit. I'll be picking him up this coming week. More details later. I feel safe posting pics now that the deal is almost done.








jimf909 Sun Oct 25, 2020 12:32 pm

No matter how you slice it, that looks like a winner. It even has the optional towel drier. I put over 100K nearly trouble-free miles on an '85. Enjoy.


termuehlen Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:11 pm

Congratulations! That's a nice looking camper. I bet you will be very happy with that purchase.

Georgia Cracker Mon Oct 26, 2020 4:16 am

Well dang, except for the hubcaps we have the exact same van. We have to get the vans together at some point. Our camper is not named George, but I am.



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