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Shiftie
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:27 pm    Post subject: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

Hey everyone, I'm a beetle/dune buggy guy, I know very little about the Eurovan. What I do know is that the community here on the samba is the place to go for information.

My mother-in-law wants a camperized van to take my son on mini road trips

I've found a few for her, she wants Vanagon or Eurovan (even though I found a beautiful split last year)

What should I be aware of? What are the strengths, the issues, what fails what's sneaky that I might miss.

My Mother-in-law is not mechanically inclined. So she isn't gonna tinker with it.

Thanks guys, very much appreciated.
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wildenbeast
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:01 am    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

Here's my personal opinion...

- Vanagons are better for camping because they are larger and the roof pops up higher but a Eurovan drives so much nicer to your destinations.

- '93-95 Eurovans mostly came with manual transmissions and a nice 5 cylinder engine. This engine / transmission combo really can last a long time (250k miles). The interior is very similar to the later model Eurovans except you also get a glove box in the front. The '93-95 are OBDI, have dimmer headlights, are slower than the '97+ Eurovans, and the brakes and wheels are much smaller. I would steer away from a '93-95 with an automatic because it will be even slower.

- '97+ Eurovans come with 12v or 24v VR6 engines and an automatic transmission. You will see many post about the automatic transmission failures on the Samba but it seems if you add an external cooler, you are better protected from an expensive ($5-7k) transmission rebuild. '97+ Eurovans are also OBDII so you can scan them and troubleshoot issues but they can also throw codes and lead you down a goose chase to sort out.

- '01-03 Eurovans are the latest model and can command some high resale prices.

- You will have to decide if you need a stove and fridge. The "campers" have these items and the "weekenders" have rear facing seats and a table. I personally like the extra space and gravitate towards the weekenders (whether its a Vanagon or a Eurovan). It seems that keeping the fridge in good working order can sometimes be challenging from reading posts here.
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I personally have a '93 with upgraded brakes, wheels, headlights, and more. However, I like the later model vans too. The '93-95 feels like an upgraded Vanagon. The '97+ Eurovans are upgraded to the point that they feel like another model of van. If you get a '97+ van, make sure you see a good paper-trail of maintenance or that the transmission has already been replaced.
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stl_stadtroller Premium Member
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

if your mother-in-law is not mechanically inclined, and you are not prepared to step in on her behalf (possibly frequently) then I have a hard time recommending a modern VW van at all. There are just too many other similar offerings out there that are newer, more functional, more reliable, safer, and easier for parts & service. (see: Sprinter/Transit/ProMaster conversions of all sorts).

Owning a VW camper van (even a T4 "EuroVan") and being happy with it is a Lifestyle. I don't know a single person who ever bought a VW Type 2 of any sort after thinking "oh that looks cool / looks like fun", who did not commit themselves to the lifestyle who were still happy with it or even still owned 2 years later. And by lifestyle, I mean doing the bulk of maintenance and repairs themselves, learning mechanical skills, participating in local VW clubs and getting on the online forums, etc..


Definitely not a Vanagon unless you have gobs of disposable income, time, and patience.

As for T4's they still command a "VW Cult Premium" and unless you're into it for the Cult's sake, once you pay the price for a good one you're back into the 'may as well look at other options' territory.

That being said..

If you're prepared to pay the admission price..

The T4's drive real nice, get good mileage for what they are, are comfy, can tow a ridiculous amount, and can be fairly reliable with the caveat that you follow the German maintenance routine religiously. Easy to maneuver, park anywhere, and cruise with the flow of traffic just fine.

I owned a '99 MV as a daily driver for some years and it was pretty rad.. until the state where I lived decided that the Check Engine Light on for *any reason* was an automatic fail. (and they could tell if you cleared the codes right before coming in too.. still failed)
That resulted in thousands of dollars in otherwise unnecessary "repairs" for non safety or emissions related equipment just to renew the license. After 2-3 years of that I grew weary and sold it to get a Honda Element.

If you're still undaunted my recommendations are to get a 24v version with as low miles as you can find. Put an external trans cooler on it, if it doesn't have one already and change all the fluids with OEM VW. Make sure it has the correct Load Rated tires and if not change them out ASAP. Have a shop go over all the hoses and whatnot in the engine bay. Make sure it's not missing the battery box cover in there. Replace the S belt and tensioner.
Listen for the "popcorn" or light clackety sounds of flappy timing chains at idle. Act accordingly.
Treat any paint flaws or rust you find aggressively or it will spread rapidly.

Once you get a good baseline, regular maint and upkeep isn't particularly difficult.. just exhaustive.

Good luck!!
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IdeaNerd
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

I think @wildenbeast gives a good overall summary above -- nothing in his post that I would disagree with.

One thing I would add is just noting the difference between "full camper" and "weekender" in the Eurovan is also a difference in wheelbase length -- the full campers are longer by... maybe 14-16 inches? (It seems like I've heard differing figures on that.) Also, the full campers are Winnebago conversions, whereas the Weekenders are conversions done by Westfalia.

Our experience, FWIW:

My background with VW vans includes learning to drive on a late-60s T2, numerous long-distance trips taken in that same van and also in a late-70s T2 Westy, and quite a few years driving an early-80s Vanagon.

Our main van currently is a 2002 Eurovan (T4) Weekender. We've had it about a year and a half, and so far it has been pretty much problem-free. Extremely glad we bought it.

One thing I can say -- it's the only VW van I've ever driven the didn't feel grossly underpowered. That aspect is nice, especially if you've spent much time behind the wheel of the earlier-generation VW vans.

@stl_stadroller's points re: getting something newer are certainly worth considering, particularly if you are not set on getting A) a VW or B) a pop-top.

After we bought the Weekender, I actually had a few "second guessing the purchase" thoughts and ended up doing some renewed searching for comparable vehicles to see what was out there. For our particular needs and wants, three things kept coming up as key differentiators that made me glad we got the Eurovan MV Weekender:

1) the fact that it was a garageable pop-top

2) the fact that, as a Multivan (MV), it had kind of the same heritage/idea as the early Kombi -- i.e. easily-removable seats, can haul seven people OR a bunch of camping equipment OR a stack plywood sheets and cargo, etc. The newer Ford Transit Connects intrigue me, for instance, but they have considerably less cargo volume. The VW vans still seem to fit a a somewhat-unusual "middle of the road" place, size-wise.

3) Price, relative to other non-VW pop-top options (even though they are not necessarily cheap relative to other VW vans). The Mercedes Metris for instance looks promising, but by the time you get it converted into a pop-top camper, it's in a completely different price ballpark.

That said, I freely admit having some bias towards VW, though I'm not sure I'm ready to admit belonging to a Cult. Wink

I also recognize that our strong preference for #1 and #2 above eliminates a lot of otherwise-viable "camperized vans" from the running. So, the right choice for your mother-in-law may very well be a different choice from one we made.

All that said, I wish you the best in the search. Thinking of the adventures your mother-in-law and your son will have together makes me smile big smiles. Very Happy The memories I have of similar trips as a kid still bring joy to this day. May it go well for all of you.
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Abscate Premium Member
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

The transmission FUD is a canard pushed by those who want to sell trans oil coolers.

IF you have a EV CAMPER and are loading it heavily for camping and driving it hard, yes.

ELSE

No.
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Shiftie
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

Thanks for your help, you confirmed my thoughts on these vans and definitely gave me some things to watch for.

I'm going to try to steer my mother in law away from a VW, she is not mechanically inclined, nor does she have any desire to be. I don't have time to work on my own VW, so there won't be time to work on hers.

She's definitely not going to be a part of a club or buy into VW culture.

I think we'll try to guide her to a smaller, newer van conversion.
There's an easy $5000 conversion on the Ram Promaster City that ships to you and is about an hour install. It's not as complete as a true class B motorhome but maybe it's more manageable for her.
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IdeaNerd
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

At the risk of veering off-board-topic, if you're looking at small, you might also take a look at Recon Campers. Former Westy enthusiast who decided to build small pop-top campers full time.
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dixoncj
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:03 am    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

Shiftie wrote:
Thanks for your help, you confirmed my thoughts on these vans and definitely gave me some things to watch for.

I'm going to try to steer my mother in law away from a VW, she is not mechanically inclined, nor does she have any desire to be. I don't have time to work on my own VW, so there won't be time to work on hers.

She's definitely not going to be a part of a club or buy into VW culture.

I think we'll try to guide her to a smaller, newer van conversion.
There's an easy $5000 conversion on the Ram Promaster City that ships to you and is about an hour install. It's not as complete as a true class B motorhome but maybe it's more manageable for her.


I'd recommend a late model used Ford Econoline van converted by Sportsmobile. A 2wd model with a 5.4L v8 can be found for reasonable prices and can be worked on everywhere. (reliable too). Check 'classifieds' link on Sportsmobileforum.com - and spend a lot of time on that forum too. Sign up for an account so you can view all pix. If it's your mom, recommend a power top. Otherwise, have Sportsmobile convert a new RAM Promaster or Ford Transit for her. They're expensive, yes, but are warrantied, can be financed for 15 years and mom can get the second home write off on a new one. Have a look at the Winnebago Travato to that end too
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Zeitgeist 13
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

Recently my dad bought a used Road Trek SS Agile and absolutely loves it madly. Kinda pricey even used, but it's several steps of quality beyond anything Winnebago has ever produced. I really like those shorty Sprinter vans.

http://www.roadtrek.com/models/ss-agile/
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Itsamoto
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

This is the Eurovan forum - so I will throw my 2 cents in for future readers, I think Eurovan is a very good option. Not too small, and not too big -- its just right. 24v VR6 models have ample power for my needs. Hard time keeping up with traffic - forget that, its more the other way around especially on hills.

The original poster lives on the westcoast, a hotbed of good condition vans. You have plenty of VW's to choose from, or even some nice Japanese imports (although I do not trust many to operate a RHD car/van with the proper attention required). Lots of very good shops in the region as well who know EV's inside out.

The 01-03 models are extremely reliable and are very well powered. I can't really speak for the older models, but I do feel that the 01-03 are very much like MK4 golfs/jettas -- the engine is shared, the transmission is a variant, the electronics are similar, OBDII, etc. And that is all really a good thing when it comes to finding somebody else to work on the van as that generation of VW is/was immensely popular and I'm sure many VW/independent mechanics see those as bread and butter cars. The mystery seems to come to 5cyl and diesel models that are bit more rare or independent of other VW's sold in NA.

Another feature of 01-03 that is underrated, is the ESP traction control. I got used to having it, and when you don't have it you know its worth it. Last spring, I was driving/flying up the Coquihalla when a freak rain storm hit just before Merritt. At the time, my van had a pooched wheel sensor and the ESP was out -- that was an eye opener as to how much I had come to rely on the ESP working and what a great job it does.
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IdeaNerd
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

I'm glad you chimed in, @Itsamoto.

Itsamoto wrote:
I think Eurovan is a very good option. Not too small, and not too big -- its just right.

This! It's the Goldilocks of vans. Wink
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Zeitgeist 13
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Eurovan westy Reply with quote

I feel pretty confident recommending a solid late model EV. It's a thoroughly modern vehicle in every manner and it's an absolute joy to drive. Any VW shop should be able to service them and the parts are mostly still easily accessible. I sure wish we could get the T5 and T6 over here.

I've owned four Vanagons and still own a nice late model with the same layout as an MV, but I can't in good conscience recommend them for anyone who doesn't have the ability to work on vehicles for themselves--too old, quirky and with far too many failure modes and NLA parts. I've owned my current Vanagon for 13 years and don't plan on ever selling it because it's tons of fun to drive and I know it inside and out.
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