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[Automatic Owners/Manual Owners] - Convince me
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DwarfVader
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:11 pm    Post subject: [Automatic Owners/Manual Owners] - Convince me Reply with quote

In my search for my* westy (*I don't actually have one yet,) I convinced myself some time ago of the things I wanted in a westy... And that list has changed a little over time, but for the most part it has remained the same.

    85'-91'
    Manual
    Little or no rust
    Straight Body


beyond those things I felt I was pretty flexible, even to a certain extent in regards to mileage. (I plan on replacing the engine in whatever I get with a 2.3L GW rebuild as soon as I can afford it depending on the price of the rig I buy.) Recently, while continuing to learn anything and everything I can about the vehicle I will one day own, I've come across various articles and thread posts that are making me re-think my decision to get a manual. (and subsequently my search patterns for vehicles.) I've noticed first off that when compared side-by-side market wise Automatics trend a LOT lower in price... In some cases almost 10k for vehicles that are damn near identical. I also learned that apparently the automatic trans-axle for the vans in the year range I mentioned is pretty robust.

I've read the GW article regarding Auto.v.Manual, I've read about a dozen threads here at the samba regarding people wanting to switch their trans-axle one way or the other... I want to hear from you, the owners of either type... What do you have, why do you like it, why DON'T you like it...
I haven't given up on wanting a manual, but I'm starting to come around to the idea that an auto wouldn't be that bad... and might actually get me in my very own westy sooner.

Fire away! Cool
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very much a matter of personal preference. I have only seldom owned a vehicle with an automatic just because, for me, a manual gearbox feels like driving and I love driving.

Both can be (or can be made) reliable. The 3-4 slider problem may have already been resolved on the vehicles of the age & mileage you're looking at.

I do not know much about the GoWesty 2.3 engine but can attest to my excellent experience with their 2.2 version.

I know there are some who have strong feelings that later models are superior but I don't buy it - in fact I prefer the early round-eye models.

Your last two points re rust and straight body are spot-on.
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DwarfVader
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahwahnee wrote:
Very much a matter of personal preference. I have only seldom owned a vehicle with an automatic just because, for me, a manual gearbox feels like driving and I love driving.

Both can be (or can be made) reliable. The 3-4 slider problem may have already been resolved on the vehicles of the age & mileage you're looking at.

I do not know much about the GoWesty 2.3 engine but can attest to my excellent experience with their 2.2 version.

I know there are some who have strong feelings that later models are superior but I don't buy it - in fact I prefer the early round-eye models.

Your last two points re rust and straight body are spot-on.


I drove a 69' Bug for almost 15yrs, and I loved that car in so many ways... One of the reasons I was getting my heart set on a manual westy was because of that car. (There is just something about driving a manual.) For the last 10+ years I've been in a 92' town & country, which is obviously an automatic. (I also currently own an 82' Dodge Rampage manual with 57k on it and it's a blast to drive.)

I only have had my sights set on a manual because I love driving a stick and I had been (somewhat erroneously) informed that they were more reliable than the autos... I'm learning that wasn't exactly true, so I'm trying to get a feel for the auto from owners because if I go the auto route I might end up with a westy to call my own sooner. (If for no other reason than they tend to be cheaper.)
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oldskewlsk8ter
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started driving autos years ago due to my arthritis and gout. There's no way in hell I could drive a manual during a full blown gout attack. Sometimes it's bad enough I can't drive the auto either. My last westy was a manual, with Subaru conversion and I loved it, but my tints op with Subaru and auto is so much easier to drive!
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kourt
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've driven manual and automatics equally all my life. I've maintained both. I also ride motorcycles a lot.

I prefer the automatic vanagon for its simplicity, robust transmission and high availability in junkyards. They are very easy to source and rebuild, though their overall durability means you'll probably never have to rebuild from a junkyard core. You can buy a rebuild kit for $100, pull the tranny, change the seals and friction items, reinstall, and be on your way. You'll need a great deal more expertise and special tools to attempt that with a manual... plus the maintenance on the clutch. No thanks. Automatics for my Vanagon, and I'll enjoy sipping root beer while driving at the same time.

If you ride mountain roads a lot you'll need to learn how to shift the auto to best fit the throttle demands of the roads. In those situations, if your throttle cable is properly adjusted, almost everything can be done through proper accelerator pedal manipulation. If not, manual shifting of the automatic works well.

I understand the mentality of folks who will only drive manuals and look down on automatics, but in my experience it would be very hard to make an objective argument in favor of manual transmissions in passenger cars these days. Driving a dump truck and need a manual with gear splitter to haul aggregate? Yes, that's necessary. Driving the Porsche 914 and need performance? Okay, I can see that. Driving any conventional pickup truck (even 1-ton payload), van, or passenger car for daily driving, or for hauling loads up to 10,000 lbs? The automatic is going to do it better and safer, and with the option to manually shift to boot.

kourt
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Corwyn Premium Member
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had my share of both, but now I can eat my cheeseburger while driving in the city . . .
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Wasted youth
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My first automatic VW was my 1973 bus. Instantly jazzed! It was a really funny/cool thing to start off and just floor it... no shifting, just steer. Totally cool. The nature of the automatic transmission's modulation keeps you from over-revving, so you don't have to be concerned with shifting timing with a cup of coffee in your hand, blah, blah, blah. YES... this is to a point, of course! Not saying you should treat your powertrain like a fool. Laughing

I have rebuilt the earlier 003 series "Type 3" tranny, but no hard parts were needed. Our Vanagons use the later model 091/010 whatever, and it is relatively easy to find torque converters and soft kit rebuild stuff, but the hard parts are getting scarce.

Our 1987 is an automatic, mostly because my wife can't drive a stick, and I like the auto anyway. One hurdle will be to eliminate the transmission cooler arrangement and upgrade the cooler design. GoWesty has some info and parts on that, you should check that out. I live in a Mediterranean environment, so I am more concerned with keeping that fluid cool. I will be adding a stand-alone cooler.

Also, I get about 45 MPH uphill 2-3% grades with a family of four and a fully loaded Westy. I down shift around 2,900 - 3,000 RPM at 50+ and it's all good. Engine never gets hot. I've got about 135 PSI on the cylinder compression test. My transmission has about 20,000 miles since it was rebuilt, IIRC.

If you can, try to drive one of each before you settle on it.
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DwarfVader
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oldskewlsk8ter wrote:
I started driving autos years ago due to my arthritis and gout. There's no way in hell I could drive a manual during a full blown gout attack. Sometimes it's bad enough I can't drive the auto either. My last westy was a manual, with Subaru conversion and I loved it, but my tints op with Subaru and auto is so much easier to drive!



Oh shite', I hadn't even thought about it, but you raise a very valid point.

Tore my ACL last sept. and had it repaired in Feb. If I had a stick to drive during that time, I'd have been out of a vehicle. I don't plan on screwing it up again obviously, but things happen. An auto might be a good plan in that regard, just in case.

And now that I'm reading more about the robustness of the auto transaxle, I'm feeling way better about the autos over all.

Really fantastic responses so far, I appreciate them all.
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Merian
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

if it would be a daily driver in NYC, then the auto is better

if hwy only then stick

for mazola... ??
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ThankYouJerry
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Merian wrote:
if it would be a daily driver in NYC, then the auto is better

if hwy only then stick

for mazola... ??


I agree with this.... "Daily driver in NYC, then the auto is better."

I don't agree with this... "if hwy only then stick".

I love my auto especially for the enjoyment and relaxation on long highway cruises. Very Happy (Disclaimer... I have a 1.8T mated to the auto trans).

On the flip side... My sportscars are all manuals and I wouldn't have it any other way. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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DwarfVader
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It will be mostly driven around the city of Missoula, and around the wonders of western Montana.
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ThankYouJerry
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like GW and greatly appreciate their contribution to our hobby/lifestyle... But, If you are considering a GW 2.3... I would STRONGLY advise that you weigh that choice against a Vanistan 2.3 or RJE 2.3. Use the search field here and study away...
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Merian
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jus get the very best condition vehicle and don't worry about manual vs. stick

stick will get just about 1 mpg better on the hwy
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DwarfVader
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ThankYouJerry wrote:
I like GW and greatly appreciate their contribution to our hobby/lifestyle... But, If you are considering a GW 2.3... I would STRONGLY advise that you weigh that choice against a Vanistan 2.3 or RJE 2.3. Use the search field here and study away...


I will do that, it has been suggested to me to check other rebuild brands but no options were given to me. (Thank you)

I only had chosen GW 2.3L because it was the only brand of rebuilt I knew of, and it was not the 2.1, but not as expensive as the 2.4. (And while I can't do the work myself, my VW mechanic is pretty good and quoted me 600$ to swap and send the core back to GW. Plus the cost of the engine of course.)

I'll definitely do the research on brands.


*EDIT:*
And having done just a little bit of reading, and comparing prices... And while I still have a ton of reading to do, those Vanistan engines are definitely something I'm going to look more at.
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Last edited by DwarfVader on Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:52 pm; edited 2 times in total
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hdenter
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've driven sticks and auto all my life. I sometimes sort of wish my work van was an auto because it would be easier to use the phone or wolf down lunch as I drive. The auto is tough and the gearing is lower so the heavy weight of my tools and materials would be fine for it. However, I love to drive. I like to feel connected to my car and in control of what it is doing. Shifting is second nature to me, I don't even have to think about when to shift... It just happens. My wife's Passat has bump shifting in sport mode, but it's not the same. Her car is so smooth and quiet that I can't "feel" the stresses on the motor to tell me when to shift. So, if you love to be in control and feel the road, then a stick is in you future. If you could care less about driving and just want to cruise along, get the auto. As a side note, you will get a bit better fuel economy with a stick. Even better economy if you go with a 5spd.

Hans
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hdenter wrote:
I've driven sticks and auto all my life. I sometimes sort of wish my work van was an auto because it would be easier to use the phone or wolf down lunch as I drive. The auto is tough and the gearing is lower so the heavy weight of my tools and materials would be fine for it. However, I love to drive. I like to feel connected to my car and in control of what it is doing. Shifting is second nature to me, I don't even have to think about when to shift... It just happens. My wife's Passat has bump shifting in sport mode, but it's not the same. Her car is so smooth and quiet that I can't "feel" the stresses on the motor to tell me when to shift. So, if you love to be in control and feel the road, then a stick is in you future. If you could care less about driving and just want to cruise along, get the auto. As a side note, you will get a bit better fuel economy with a stick. Even better economy if you go with a 5spd.

Hans

X2.

OP, I just hope you aren't settling for an auto when you really want a stick. It's an integral part of driving the van, all the time. If you settle, you'll wind up regretting it every time you hop in to drive somewhere.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Westy was born with an automatic, and it worked fine. It lived at altitude, and drove all over the western half of the US for 160k miles. The WBX coupled to the auto traversed Vail Pass numerous times.

When the WBX finally spun bearings (1800 miles from home, after running 80mph plus for 20 hours (((i know Embarassed I know))), I (remotely) bought a complete tin-top donor with a 4 speed, and had everything swapped.

I don't regret it for a second.

While there are "plusses" to driving an automatic, (any potential medical issues aside) I suppose there are plusses to riding a greyhound bus, too.

For me driving the automatic felt like being sentenced to driving an underpowered vehicle.

I probably drive the 4 speed even more carefully than the auto, as I feel more connected to the van, but I enjoy driving it that much more.

10/10 would swap again
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DwarfVader
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zak99B5 wrote:
hdenter wrote:
I've driven sticks and auto all my life. I sometimes sort of wish my work van was an auto because it would be easier to use the phone or wolf down lunch as I drive. The auto is tough and the gearing is lower so the heavy weight of my tools and materials would be fine for it. However, I love to drive. I like to feel connected to my car and in control of what it is doing. Shifting is second nature to me, I don't even have to think about when to shift... It just happens. My wife's Passat has bump shifting in sport mode, but it's not the same. Her car is so smooth and quiet that I can't "feel" the stresses on the motor to tell me when to shift. So, if you love to be in control and feel the road, then a stick is in you future. If you could care less about driving and just want to cruise along, get the auto. As a side note, you will get a bit better fuel economy with a stick. Even better economy if you go with a 5spd.

Hans


X2.

OP, I just hope you aren't settling for an auto when you really want a stick. It's an integral part of driving the van, all the time. If you settle, you'll wind up regretting it every time you hop in to drive somewhere.


I haven't settled on anything yet, other than I want an 85-91' non-weekender westy with a pop-top that isn't going to fall apart due to rust... Partly the reason for this thread really, to help me make a complete and informed decision when I do buy.

I love driving stick don't get me wrong, and originally had my heart set on a manual and manual alone... But partly due to some bad information, and I don't want to discount the possibility of an auto on bad info. (That bad information being that the auto transaxle was "less than great" and "prone to failure.")
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DwarfVader wrote:
I haven't settled on anything yet, other than I want an 85-91' non-weekender westy with a pop-top that isn't going to fall apart due to rust... Partly the reason for this thread really, to help me make a complete and informed decision when I do buy.

I love driving stick don't get me wrong, and originally had my heart set on a manual and manual alone... But partly due to some bad information, and I don't want to discount the possibility of an auto on bad info. (That bad information being that the auto transaxle was "less than great" and "prone to failure.")


I prefer a standard transmission, and wanted that in the van, but I would have missed out on a couple really nice vans and one rust bucket that got me into vanagons if I had just turned up my nose at the AT. I have since found that with an engine in good tune and properly adjusted kickdown linkage the AT is very nice to drive and can be as peppy or as docile as you want. It's also tough, and can be manually shifted to provide engine breaking just as a manual. Further to that I have read a few threads with knowledgeable mechanics saying DON'T gear down when stopping in a standard as you will just wear clutch and tranny internals faster, which are more expensive and harder to replace than brake pads. I still do in my other car but maybe I shouldn't and perhaps that negates that particular "advantage" of a MT over an AT.

A big AT advantage that a MT cannot overcome is driveability for all drivers. My friends/family who can't do MT can drive the van, drastically increasing my pool of designated drivers!

Basically, unless you are 4-wheeling a syncro or have non-MT people that need to drive the van it really is a matter of personal preference. I was pleasantly surprised/impressed with the little auto and IMHO you should not let the lack of a stick be a dealbreaker on a great van. Condition of all systems should be much higher on your priority list than type of transmission!
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am driving a manual with a Subaru 2.5. If I had to start over I would not hesitate to own an auto and then I'd stick a Peloquin TBD in it. 😀
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