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First Time Buyer - 87 Wolfsburg Weekender Tintop
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smokiesvan
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:56 am    Post subject: First Time Buyer - 87 Wolfsburg Weekender Tintop Reply with quote

Hello all, I am looking to get into VW vans and found a decent 1987 VW Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender. He's asking $8400 for it, which seems a little steep to me from what I've been seeing elsewhere. He has done a number of upgrades to it, all of which are discussed in his Craigslist posting (pasted below).

I went and saw it last Saturday and it ran and drove smoothly. It shifted through the gears nicely and handled hills well. The interior is OK (headliner is a little loose, seats aren't perfect), and there is no rust except for some surface rust on the roof where his roof rack brushed on the roof before he got a higher rack.

He says he bought the van from a junkyard where he found it with a rod jutting out the engine, removed the engine and put in a 2.1L wasserboxer with 100K miles on it (which he did a top end rebuild on), and repainted it.

He claims the van has about 150K miles on the transmission and body, but there's no way to prove that as he replaced the original, broken cluster in the van with the same cluster from an identical van, which reflects about 335K miles.

I am new to the Vanagon world, and am worried that I don't know enough to make a good judgement call on this, thus I appeal to the Samba's collective knowledge for help. I am not sure whether this is a fair deal or if this would be a first Vanagon (I am mechanically inclined and do have some mechanical experience, mostly limited to quick fixes on Honda's and Volvo's and driveway oil changes though; I do want to become a better mechanic though). I can answer any questions you may have as well (I've asked him a lot and looked it over thoroughly, but can't recall or list everything here).

Cheers!

***
Here is a link to the Craigslist post: https://asheville.craigslist.org/cto/d/volkswagen-1987-vanagon/6312862457.html

Here is the text from the Craigslist Post:
---
"I have for sale a 1987 VW Vanagon. This is the Wolfburg Weekender edition. The vehicle is equipped with a pop up table and fold down queen size bed. I've added a few custom cabinets and shelf. This vw also comes with it's original jump seats (2). A lot of work has gone into this guy over the years. In the past 3 years I've put about 35,000 miles on the van.

There is a zero lift Westfalia bilstein springs/struts, new power steering rack, GoWesty shift rode bushings, new fuel lines, 65% left of the BFG Goodrich tires, new dashboard blower motor, and replaced speedometer. There are other small upgrades I've done that I am not thinking of right now. The motor has about 135,000 miles on it. I'm askinng $8,400 OBO

Send me your contact info if you have any further questions, and I'll get back to ya-thanks"
---
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shagginwagon83
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:12 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

Hey! Welcome to the Samba. I'm not far from you - I check out craigslist often for vanagons in this area. You missed a killer deal this weekend for burgundy van for $5000. The guy was getting married and needed some money

Anyhow, this van has been on Craigslist for awhile. I don't think its worth it in my opinion. I think you'll find a better deal soon. You just have to check craigslist often. I'm 24 years old so I don't know much so take my opinion lightly.
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mikemtnbike
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:16 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

That's a nice looking van I've seen in person a few times. Here's my feedback:

1) Is he selling it with all his accessories? Set-up, it's a pretty nice kit and would probably equal a thousand dollars -plus in expense.

2) For months, that van was parked at a local (not VW specific) mechanic shop- not in a "parked here not running" state but a "this is an employee's commuter" status. As in, it was leaving every night. I drive past the shop every day on my way to work. Is the owner a professional mechanic himself? If he does work there, I'd consider that a major plus given all the work he did.

3) At the last vanlife rally at New Belgium...I don't know if it was the van or where it was parked, but there was a relatively good sized fresh oil stain on the pavement beneath the van. Might not be a big deal at all -like a leaky plug or a valve cover gasket or something like that- or might not have been that van's marking at all, but I'd be looking for that.


That's a good bit of money for a tintop, but it's also close to what I have into my van now- not counting stuff like the ARB awning etc- that I got for much much less. So, if it doesn't have the multiple needs for updating my van did/still does, may be worth the investment.

Comes down to how badly you want it and how affordable it is for you and your budget.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:21 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

Couple issues I see right off the get-go:

1: found in junk yard === no way it has a legit title. If ANY vehicle goes into a junk yard, it stays in there, legally (I guess it is possible that law does not pertain to all states, but I believe for the vast majority it does)

2: repainted. Usually a good indicator that you'd better be on your toes. Rust can be covered by paint for a short time, usually in the seams. Its HARD to get the old seam sealer out and to do the correct re-seal and paint. Some here would vouch for $10K for a paint job, so why is it less?

3: Mumbo jumbo on the cluster, engine, and transmission. Assume nothing. Believe less.

Otherwise, good to hear you are interested, hope you have the best of luck.

Otherwise, in general, looks a bit on the high-priced side. You should be able to find a Pop-Top for that kind of dough, if you are patient.
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smokiesvan
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:41 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

mikemtnbike wrote:
That's a nice looking van I've seen in person a few times. Here's my feedback:

1) Is he selling it with all his accessories? Set-up, it's a pretty nice kit and would probably equal a thousand dollars -plus in expense.


He is selling it with everything that you see there. I don't think it includes any accessories such as awnings, etc. but he is including the racks and a storage box for up top.

mikemtnbike wrote:

2) For months, that van was parked at a local (not VW specific) mechanic shop- not in a "parked here not running" state but a "this is an employee's commuter" status. As in, it was leaving every night. I drive past the shop every day on my way to work. Is the owner a professional mechanic himself? If he does work there, I'd consider that a major plus given all the work he did.


He is a professional mechanic at a shop there as I understand. He said his family has always had VWs and he's worked on them for quite a while. It looked and felt sound, didn't seem to have any hiccups at all; even the electric windows, locks, etc. worked on the thing!

mikemtnbike wrote:

3) At the last vanlife rally at New Belgium...I don't know if it was the van or where it was parked, but there was a relatively good sized fresh oil stain on the pavement beneath the van. Might not be a big deal at all -like a leaky plug or a valve cover gasket or something like that- or might not have been that van's marking at all, but I'd be looking for that.


He mentioned that there was a sensor of some sort that got splayed back there, and that he lost a good bit of oil a couple of weeks ago. He has the receipt for that part he says, and he showed me the new sensor he put in; it did look new.

(EDIT) I asked him what the sensor was and he said it was the oil pressure sensor, an electronic sensor directly below the water pump. He said that happened about 3 weeks ago.

Here is a picture of the sensor which he said got sliced by an angle grinder:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


mikemtnbike wrote:

That's a good bit of money for a tintop, but it's also close to what I have into my van now- not counting stuff like the ARB awning etc- that I got for much much less. So, if it doesn't have the multiple needs for updating my van did/still does, may be worth the investment.

Comes down to how badly you want it and how affordable it is for you and your budget.


Thanks so much for your feedback! I have definitely been thinking about it and will continue to do so. I do want a VW van pretty bad, but don't think it necessarily has to be this one.


Last edited by smokiesvan on Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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smokiesvan
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:54 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

bobbyblack wrote:
Couple issues I see right off the get-go:

1: found in junk yard === no way it has a legit title. If ANY vehicle goes into a junk yard, it stays in there, legally (I guess it is possible that law does not pertain to all states, but I believe for the vast majority it does)

2: repainted. Usually a good indicator that you'd better be on your toes. Rust can be covered by paint for a short time, usually in the seams. Its HARD to get the old seam sealer out and to do the correct re-seal and paint. Some here would vouch for $10K for a paint job, so why is it less?



So he did all the paint work and stuff himself, which can be verified by looking at his girlfriend's instagram feed back down the timeline a bit (he referred me here to see the progress of the work). Here is his girlfriend's instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/thisvanagonlife/

Here's the van when they first bought it: https://www.instagram.com/p/0gcMcOK1Wl/?taken-by=thisvanagonlife
Here's a look at one side where they did some bondo patchwork: https://www.instagram.com/p/6SgVv7K1QK/?taken-by=thisvanagonlife
Here's a look at it right after they painted it (over two years ago): https://www.instagram.com/p/6YCBsQK1UW/?taken-by=thisvanagonlife

He also mentioned that he often uses some kind of compound in his shop to stop oxidation when he sees little spots that appear to be rust, and he uses the leftover stuff on his van as it's quite expensive. I saw it on there in a couple places; it was dark black after it had dried.

bobbyblack wrote:

3: Mumbo jumbo on the cluster, engine, and transmission. Assume nothing. Believe less.

Otherwise, good to hear you are interested, hope you have the best of luck.

Otherwise, in general, looks a bit on the high-priced side. You should be able to find a Pop-Top for that kind of dough, if you are patient.


I realize patience is a virtue, and feel like I have the liberty to do so here without worrying too much because of the price.

Thank you for your thoughts!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:01 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

smokiesvan wrote:
. . . He has done a number of upgrades to it . . .
. . . I do want to become a better mechanic . . .


Why do so many sellers refer to routine maintenance as upgrades?

While I prefer a tintop with a Z-bed to a Westy stuffed with all that hardware, this one requires too many explanations.

Wa-a-a-ay too much $$$ for you're area and for a van with such a sketchy provenance.

If you're still keen on this jewel, go over that new paint job with a piece of magnetic vinyl sheet (such as a kitchen magnet sent to you by a law practice specializing in disability claims) in order to find the extent of the Bondo, then, IF THE AIRFRAME PROVES TO BE ACCEPTABLE, offer him $4000 for it.

Rest assured, buy a Vanagon and you will become a better mechanic.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:59 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

That my friend is no Weekender. People loosely use terms which are not honest. If people are looking at vans their comparison will be of a Weekender van of which this is not.
A weekender will have a Pop Top and a rear cabinet as well as a Westy style rear seat base with storage underneath. If this were a Weekender I would say it is a fair deal.
I personally dis like black wheels and the wooden door panels. It is not that expensive to have a Odometer Reset when you do a swap to reflect the correct mileage. Are yellow high beams legal in the states, They are usually in parts of Europe but rarely here in the states.
It is nice that it has functional door locks and power windows. If you do not want a Pop Top then this is a great van $4500 - $6000.

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T91Carat
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:18 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

I feel that is way too much for a tin top. I paid $3500 for my minimal rust 91 Carat.

That one does not look like a Weekender, looks like a Multivan. Weekender would be a pop top, with the storage under the seat behind the drivers seat and some cabinets in back, no kitchen, right?!?!? More Westy style AC unit, no tubes.

Weekender vans seem to be becoming unicorns, I see less and less. Actually easier to find a Sycro, at least in the Colorado area. All the weekenders I have come across are priced pretty high. This one looks like a good example, https://denver.craigslist.org/ctd/d/1987-volkswagen-vanagon-mini/6357827290.html But there is the cost to it ($18k)and it still has a 2.1 motor at 146k. Where the cooling tubes replaced? How are the fuel lines? How is oil pressure, compression?

My 91 with an auto, 2.1 is sitting at 156k, with low oil pressure and on the verge of the bearings letting go, even though it runs great and gets around 20mpg. So even with my new hard and soft fuel lines, stainless coolant hoses, stainless cooling tower, all new water pump and hoses.... I still have low oil pressure and will need a bottom end rebuild (Subaru swap time for me). You would not know from running and driving it that its actually dying inside.

Do you plan on converting it to Subaru? Or keeping it factory? I feel finding a good body(no or minimal rust) and interior is much more important if you plan on keeping your van for the years to come. As bobbyblack stated below, "assume nothing, believe less when buying a Vanagon". Interior bits are becoming hard to find and increasing in price too, I mean over 30 bucks for a headrest that is falling apart as example. At least mechanically there are great vendors and people on this list that produce great products to keep you running. Cause with a wasserboxer its not if it will fail, its when it will fail and where will you be. I say this with peace and love.

Smokiesvan, if you are looking for a turn key solution, the prices go up astronomically, especially with newly rebuilt 2.1 or a Subaru conversion. Even if you have a good running wasserboxer, its still going to require lots of love attention to keep the fluids inside it and running. Also keep in mind, its all attached to at a minimum 26yo frame, brakes, drive train.

Don't mean to derail you, smokiesvan, but if you are in it for the long haul, take your time finding a good base to start. And just calculate on replacing just about everything on the van over time.

Its defiantly a labor of love and a time investment. But totally worth it.

Just my opinion from my lessons learned having two of these things in the past 17 years or so.....
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:28 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

smokiesvan wrote:
He is a professional mechanic at a shop there as I understand. He said his family has always had VWs and he's worked on them for quite a while. It looked and felt sound, didn't seem to have any hiccups at all; even the electric windows, locks, etc. worked on the thing!


i’ve bought vans from mechanics before, twice, actually. the problem w “mechanic” vans is while they may do fantastic work at their shop, their own rigs are often neglected because what mechanic wants to work on cars all day and then go home and in his off time work on cars? also because mechanics think they know what shortcuts to take, they often do. anyway, i got burned both times, to varying degrees. YMMV.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:02 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

maybe you should look at a Honda
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:45 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

chachi wrote:


i’ve bought vans from mechanics before, twice, actually. the problem w “mechanic” vans is while they may do fantastic work at their shop, their own rigs are often neglected because what mechanic wants to work on cars all day and then go home and in his off time work on cars? also because mechanics think they know what shortcuts to take, they often do. anyway, i got burned both times, to varying degrees. YMMV.


This is not the first time I've heard this. Not from just this forum, but many others.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:54 am    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

I've talked to the people currently owned by this van a few times. Really nice folks, they might be trying to make some money but I really doubt they're trying to rip anybody off or anything.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:08 pm    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

Hmmm...lots of confusion about nomenclature here.

A Weekender and the T3 Multivan are poptops with minimal interior cabinetry.

This van appears to be a Wolfsburg Edition Carat, or just a basic Carat, with some cobbled together cabinets and other doodads tacked on.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:33 pm    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

WAY too much money for that tintop!

Maybe half that amount?

Just because the owner spent money on the Van, it diesn't mean the Van is worth what he spent.

Your money, spend it as you wish.

If it really was a "weekender" with the Pop Top, that would be a fair price. But a cobbled together tintop with a Z bed? Um..... no.........

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:07 pm    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 87 Wolfsburg Weekender Tintop Reply with quote

Thanks for the guidance, folks. I had a feeling that this one was a little price but could not be certain do to my freshness in the area of Vanagons. I will continue my search.

I had heard that they tend to get cheaper in the winter, is this true? It seems like it would make sense...
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:52 pm    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 87 Wolfsburg Weekender Tintop Reply with quote

smokiesvan wrote:

I had heard that they tend to get cheaper in the winter, is this true? It seems like it would make sense...


They **can** be found for less in the "off" season, but also, folks seem to be less likely to be working on a sale while the salt is on the roads (in those States that are plagued by this anyway) or conditions where the 1 wheel drive shows it's true colors Wink

I think there are both fewer buyers and fewer sellers from November to February.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:14 pm    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 1987 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender Reply with quote

Zeitgeist 13 wrote:
Hmmm...lots of confusion about nomenclature here.

A Weekender and the T3 Multivan are poptops with minimal interior cabinetry.

This van appears to be a Wolfsburg Edition Carat, or just a basic Carat, with some cobbled together cabinets and other doodads tacked on.


A) There was never a "Weekender" model, only an optional Weekender Package. However, the term "Weekender" has become part of the van vernacular in describing a van with a bed, but no kitchen (hence the expanded phrase "pop-top Weekender").

B) No such thing as a Carat in 1987. This is a Vanagon GL Wolfsburg Edition that is no longer all original and a bit pricey.

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

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:53 pm    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 87 Wolfsburg Weekender Tintop Reply with quote

Here is an actual sale of a somewhat similar Vanagon that you can use as a comparison. It was auctioned in July and the final bid was $5,500, which did not meet the reserve, so it didn't sell. It was recently relisted without a reserve and sold for $6,100. You can read the description and all of the comments to see what the buyer probably got for his money.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1990-volkswagen-vanagon-3/
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:59 pm    Post subject: Re: First Time Buyer - 87 Wolfsburg Weekender Tintop Reply with quote

I will buck the trend a little. As a tintop owner and fan I would say that is a pretty sweet van that someone has put quite a bit of love into. Not many people would take on painting a van. Judging from the pics they even did a halfway decent job and with a close inspection around the windows and seams and underneath the van you should be able to sleuth out major rust issues. To me it seems a good indication that the rest of the van is in good working order as indicated by your test drive.

The "weekender" / carat / wolfsburg package is an ideal van layout. They command at least a $1 or $2k above a regular passenger van.

The modifications that have been done seem alright and pretty much on par with what a lot of people do on this forum or that you will see around. Fog lights, wood floor, roof rack, some cabinets. Probably a stereo and some other bits and bobs. Everything looks easily reversible if you wanted and all the stock bones of the car are there. Nice side mirrors, cup holders, upholstery is in good condition and it comes with both jump seats ($$). The "mods" do not necessarily add value to the van like an engine swap or a nice set of wheels and rubber but if you were going to do them anyway I would say it is money saved in the long run and a more usable van.

Finally, I don't know your market but the price does seem a bit high. Values nationwide continue to go up and these vans get more and more recognition. A lot of contributors here are longtime owners, extreme dealhunters, extremely lucky, or very well connected and thus may be a bit disconnected with the new van buyer. There are weekly threads here or on fb with lots of incredulous/bitter folks regarding the prices people ask for their vans. Seems everyone got there syncro westy for $1500 "just a few years ago" put $100 of fluids into it and is now sunshine and rainbows. In my experience and CL hunting you can get a wolfsburg/carat with engine problems and 40 hours of cleaning to do and a bunch of missing / broken parts for $800 to $1200 if you are quick on the draw. A cheaper stock weekender in running condition would be $3k -- Could be a gem or you could have bought yourself a lot of headaches. Here in the NW people are asking up to 12 and 15 for nonswapped but super nice tintops and I have seen 20k+ for a fully modded/swapped/restored/gone through 2wd tintop. No idea if they are actually selling at those prices.

Since it has been sitting make an offer (it says obo). Anything 5500-7k would seem like a fair deal to me. If you can get it cheaper without offending the guy kudos to you.

I guess all I am saying is that you could do a lot worse. This van was cared for a lot more than some if not most. Price is obo and most people price high on CL expecting to come down. That said maybe a better van at a better price will be listed tomorrow. Took me almost 2 years and a lot of emails, phone calls, pictures, missed opportunities etc. before I finally got mine.

Cheers and Goodluck.
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