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maverickxv
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:39 pm    Post subject: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

Hi All,

First post here, I am about to be the owner of basket case Westy. I want to lovingly restore it to be put into circulation for a new owner. I have a shop that specializes in Overland vehicles and off road stuff. I do all my own work.

My first love was aircooled type 1 bugs as a teen. Professionally, I moved on to domestic stuff, muscle cars, BMW's, Ford even worked as a VW tech in the late 90's. I then pioneered EVs as the first technician in service for a little electric car company in the Bay Area (well, not so little anymore).

Now that you know my back story, I am getting a 1980 Westfalia and plan to restore but not sure what level of restoration makes sense. The body needs some rust repair, quarters, and around the windshield, the top is fairly new and the motor has been replaced. It has good bones but it is also flirting the line of being a parts car too.

I want to make it nice, I only do quality work, just not sure if there is enough intrinsic value in an air cooled Westy.

My overland vehicle mind, wants to lift it 2", put 16" Method wheels, make some custom bumpers, an awning, winch, baja lights, maybe a bed liner paint job, big brakes and refresh the interior (rubber and door handles etc.). If it is worth it, I will put a Peloquin LSD in it. I can make it awesome. I see people asking big money for beater Westy's just not sure I have my finger on the pulse of things.

Gentleman, I can rebuild it
I have the technology
I have the capability....Lol

So my question: Is going Bionic Man on an air cooled T3 a waste of time? I would hate to hear "It looks good but I really want a waterboxer" when I try to sell it.

I remember the salty VW techs I worked with back in the 90's hating water boxers and I have seen enough of them with cooling issues. I am not sure if those opinions matter nowadays, that was another era. I also know the Type 4 L-Jet air cooled motor is a bit underpowered and not very tunable.

Maybe an air cooled L-Jet Westy is desirable?

So I am asking you all, the community, what do you think? Should I make it exceptional? Or just make it solid and sell it to a happy new Westy fan because it's aircooled?

I will share my build as much as possible, if I go the Bionic Man route. If people want to see that?

I appreciate everyone's opinion! Thanks.

-Jamison
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

The watercooled Vanagon is the only vehicle I know of that gets more dependable with age. Having owned one from new it pissed me off endlessly with how easily it dumped all the coolant onto the roadway time after time, while at this point it has been either 5 or 6 years since since the last time this happened. My first engine started leaking coolant at around 120K miles and began to show signs of stretching rods at 180K miles. Neither of those are all that likely to be repeated.

There must be 25 improvements in parts and techniques available for a waterboxer engine these days that make them more dependable than new.
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jimf909 Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

Quote:
Gentleman...


You're obviously in the wrong place.
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Current: 1990 Westy Camper - Bostig RG4, 2wd, manual trans w/Peloquin, NAHT high-top, Flash Silver, seam rust, bondo, etc., etc.

Past: 1985 Westy Camper - 1.9 wbx, 2wd, manual trans, Merian Brown, (sold after 17 years to Northwesty who converted it to a Syncro).
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ZsZ
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:47 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

maverickxv wrote:

So my question: Is going Bionic Man on an air cooled T3 a waste of time? I would hate to hear "It looks good but I really want a waterboxer" when I try to sell it.


Yes. Due to Gowesty disciple, pre '86 vans worth nothing to the masses.

IMO a solid original aircooled van have more resell value than a modded one - you will never get back the price of the fancy stuff you put on
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:25 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

I'm an air cooled guy from the 1960ís, back when they were still making them.

I ran screaming from the Vanagon in 1980, actually I ran from the newer Bay Window units as engine complexity got out of hand and dependability plummeted.

I didn't even give a Vanagon a second look when I purchased my new Dodge minivan in the mid 80ís.

That being said, the Vanagon platform has withstood the test of time and I've made up with it.

But,
IMHO biased opinion, to invest big money into an air cooled would be fool hardy.

Quite simply, overall, myself included, people don't want one.
Sure, they eventually sell but they don't fly off the shelf.

As mentioned, your bigger money is in a well sorted original.

I hope you purchased it "right" and can enhance it and make a few $$ís on it.
But this isn't your blank canvas I think that you seek.

But, I've been wrong before and I'm sure I'll be wrong again.
My Dodge Minivan is long gone to the crusher, the Vanagon I snubbed is in my driveway!

Dave
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jlrftype7
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:10 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

If you can live with certain issues that seem to come up over and over for Type 4 engine owners in both Bay Buses and Vanagons, you might be happy with your AC Vanagon.
Parts Availabilty and price are the biggest thing I keep reading about with keeping a Type 4 engine going versus the earlier Type 1 engines, and as Wildthings noted, even the WBX has support and upgrades that seem to elude Type 4 engines. Add to that, machine shops that are still around and knowledgeable for setting up a Type 4 engine, or even older Air Cooled techs, the herd gets thinner all the time due to retirement or dying out.
When you add the heavier Vanagon body to the mix, you need to drive your vehicle carefully with cyl. head temps hopefully being monitored via a sender and gauge.
After all that, valve seat issues on the Type 4 engines seem to be heartaches that plague people even with careful driving.
Research well and make your choices.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:12 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

Would you rather spend time working on this or spend similar money and then spend this summer camping in it?

Iím sure itís no doubt going to be nice and I donít doubt your abilities. I thing there is something unique about the early vanagons but parts are more scarce and the unfortunately just are not worth as much in the end.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:57 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

Air Cooled Vanagons might be having a moment...I was more than a bit surprised by this '83 with 193k miles selling for $23k last week:

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1983-volkswagen-vanagon-westfalia-8/

I do think that the air cooled models do not lend themselves to big overland-type upgrades the way the water cooled ones do. Water cooled Vanagons offer a more flexible palate for modifications.

That being said, an air cooled Westy would be cool for putt-putting to local camping spots.
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 6:33 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

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Does this give you any ideas for a powers source?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 6:44 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

Everything we do here is a labor of love. That low value project car is your admission ticket. Welcome to the club!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:10 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

If you've still got an 'in' with that electric car company, why not ditch the gasoline?

I see what looks to be classic rot under the kitchen. So, there's going to be a good headache with that area. Leads to a full tear out of all the cabinets.. leads to all windows out, leads to all suspension off, leads to all the rest of the interior out, leads to a huge pile of crap in your work area, leads to a classified add here saying 'project' .. leads to eventual hatred of Vanagons in general.

Anyway, lots of folks think the air cooled Vanagons look cool, even cooler than the late model ones. But people do pay for solid older buses over newer rusty ones. Not usually the air cooled ones though. I watched a gas '82 sit for 10 years with a fading for sale sign in the window, not moving once. That was after a completely rebuilt engine having been installed, and working quite well. It wasn't even priced too high.

Also, I can glimpse into the future sometimes, and here is what I see for you; you've spent time and money on parts, you've put your back into this, and it looks good enough to eat in. You didn't do this because you loved it in the first place, you did it because you wanted to rehab it for someone else to enjoy. When it comes time to sell, you'll never find the right people to let them have it for less than half of what you've got in it, and you won't find anyone that is willing to pay more than half either.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:18 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

joetiger wrote:
Air Cooled Vanagons might be having a moment...I was more than a bit surprised by this '83 with 193k miles selling for $23k last week:

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1983-volkswagen-vanagon-westfalia-8/

I do think that the air cooled models do not lend themselves to big overland-type upgrades the way the water cooled ones do. Water cooled Vanagons offer a more flexible palate for modifications.

That being said, an air cooled Westy would be cool for put-putting to local camping spots.


^^^This.

The only place to take this...
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...is to this. Early model Vanagons don't go to BaT tarted out as ginger bread houses and fetch top dollar. The less futzing with the original Hans und Franz vision the higher the price.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Those prices are gaining on the most tricked out Syncros...
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


p.s. I'm more interested in following a build of an old car returned to it's original state, unless, as mentioned above, it's an electric conversion.
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Abscate wrote:

Do not get killed, do not kill others.


Current: 1990 Westy Camper - Bostig RG4, 2wd, manual trans w/Peloquin, NAHT high-top, Flash Silver, seam rust, bondo, etc., etc.

Past: 1985 Westy Camper - 1.9 wbx, 2wd, manual trans, Merian Brown, (sold after 17 years to Northwesty who converted it to a Syncro).


Last edited by jimf909 on Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:21 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

What you want to do makes sense if you are doing it for yourself and you really like the air cooled engine scene.

You'll never get your money back if you go to sell it though. (If you include your labor cost.)

It should be a labor of love.

Welcome to the madness.

Ignore the occasional troll.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:26 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

CA emissions and Smog, that's the first thing that would have me running from an 80's air cooled. I've passed on a couple late 70's bay windows because of CA emissions is getting harder and harder to find the parts. Type IV engines can really be built up nicely. I think some of the parts are better than what you can find for Type I engines. So I'm sure you could build yourself a nice engine. Its can you get it CA smog legal. That would be my biggest concern. Second, though prices are going up, its still very easy to be underwater. If building a crazy overland type to resell, probably better off starting with a late model.

good luck.

brad
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:11 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

maverickxv wrote:


So my question: Is going Bionic Man on an air cooled T3 a waste of time? I would hate to hear "It looks good but I really want a waterboxer" when I try to sell it.


So I am asking you all, the community, what do you think? Should I make it exceptional? Or just make it solid and sell it to a happy new Westy fan because it's aircooled?

-Jamison
[img]


It sounds like the OP is flipping it so cost of improvements and expected resale are the primary considerations.
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Abscate wrote:

Do not get killed, do not kill others.


Current: 1990 Westy Camper - Bostig RG4, 2wd, manual trans w/Peloquin, NAHT high-top, Flash Silver, seam rust, bondo, etc., etc.

Past: 1985 Westy Camper - 1.9 wbx, 2wd, manual trans, Merian Brown, (sold after 17 years to Northwesty who converted it to a Syncro).
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Merian
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

the intrinsic value in an air cooled Westy is from the Porsche engine you swap into it
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valvecovergasket
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

jimf909 wrote:

^^^This.

The only place to take this...

...is to this. Early model Vanagons don't go to BaT tarted out as ginger bread houses and fetch top dollar. The less futzing with the original Hans und Franz vision the higher the price.


was about to post this. BaT has some bafflingly high prices for early clean westies. exactly that kind of show car use mentioned. i wouldnt spend that kind of money on one, but clearly lots of folks are!
dont put anything on it other than cleaning it up and making it a good running original van. and prepare for the BaT bucks to roll in.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

Merian wrote:
the intrinsic value in an air cooled Westy is from the Porsche engine you swap into it

That's kind of what I was thinking.

OP, there were a handful of T3s with 3.2L Carrera engines built by Porsche/VW.
No idea if you'd get your money back, but it'd be a unique vehicle and the clone in this thread had a crazy high asking price (80k):
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=...p;start=80

That'd be a cool direction to take it and maybe a little more fun/challenging for you than a straight restoration.
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maverickxv
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

Appreciate the insight from everyone, and yeah, it all makes sense.

-The motor is good, actually a recent Tuttle motor, like I said, good bones.
-The rust, isn't too bad. I find the replacement quarter panels to be fairly cheap,
the lower corner windshield will be the annoying part.
-I will focus on resto back to stock vs spending too much on making it something it's not. Maybe some improvements to the lighting and a new awning.


The prices on BaT, if that's the going market, it will be worth my time to put a decent AC Westy back into circulation.

I can pull my uncle, and early mentor, out of retirement to help on any L-Jet gremlins, he was VW dealer tech for decades, worked on these under warranty.

Like I said, I have the tools and technology.

Def not worth the R&D time, cost or weight to retrofit anything electric IMO, the Porsche motor is a big investment too. Did I mention this is a side project? Lol.

Thanks again everyone, even the trolls!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Newbie Needs Your Opinion Reply with quote

Welcome to the 1980 corner of the forum! I have owned mine for almost three years now and want to clear up a few misconceptions from this thread:

1. Unless you are a speed demon or carry a ton of heavy stuff, an unmolested air-cooled Vanagon does not have to stay in the local flatlands. I take mine camping in the Sierra Nevada at least 4-5 times a year and have never experienced any problems, even when loaded up with kids, dogs, and groceries. I even took it skiing this winter. I do not have a CHT gauge or any other way to monitor engine temperature (except for touching the dip stick). I do avoid driving full throttle for long periods when it is hot outside.

2. Mine gets smogged here in Marin County every year and it always passes with no problems. As long as the van has the original equipment, it is not too difficult to get it to pass.

3. I also had the dreaded kitchen rust (huge mice nest that was no fun to deal with) but it really was not too bad. Took about a weekend of kitchen removal and assembly and a weekend of cleaning and rustproofing. It helps if you are in California where rust moves more slowly than in the rest of the country. It also helps that I am not a visual perfectionist. I use my bus all the time and don't plan to take it to shows or sell it on BaT.

I am glad that you are planning to keep your 1980 stock!

--Hans
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