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Talk me out of buying a Vanagon Camper
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physast
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:02 pm    Post subject: Talk me out of buying a Vanagon Camper Reply with quote

Lately I have had my mine set on buying a vanagon camper to do some traveling. My wife and I live in DC and are tired of the city, politics and fast pace of the city. I have always wanted to travel in a VW camper since I got my 67 bug in high school. We are restoring the 67 beetle right now which is taking most of our money. We have some saved up and could purchase a vanagon if we wanted to, but....

I also feel that we should be responsible and not throw our money at what likely will be another money bucket. However, I feel 25K (what I am currently willing to spend) in a vanagon should be a somewhat reliable car and will bring enough adventures to make up for the money.

So back to my question. I am dead set on this and unless someone talks me out of it I will likely pull the trigger and get one. It's not that I want someone to talk me out of it as much as I just need some balance because I am currently running full speed ahead.
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joshivore
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'm pretty sure you posted this here, as opposed to say...suze orman's financial responsibility forum...because you wanted some people to enable you in your want of a van. go get one!

also, it sounds like you have multiple money buckets? you could unload one to fund a camper then by my math, you're breaking even. (my wife does not think this is good math.)

go forth!
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

24k is a very realistic budget. Get a nice Westy for $15k and then over time put $10k into making it reliable. GO FOR IT! Very Happy

BTW, IMHO don't spend $25k on someone's Westy assuming that it has everything done to it. These are all old and need work. You are better off spending some less up front and driving it for a while to determine what needs work.

I live just outside DC if you want to chat.
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https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=620646

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https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=695371

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https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=746794
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tarandusVDub
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't buy one. They are old and funky and take way too much time and money. Get a sprinter. Smile

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=587228&highlight=competition
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's good that you have a realistic budget at $25,000. So here are the things I would consider as requirements at that price:

1. Get a 1990 or 1991 model since they do not include a failure-prone 3rd-4th gear drive hub. Obviously, I favour the 4-speed over the automatic. Resale values and size of the market, I believe, are superior with the manual.

2. Go West to buy your Westy. For the same money, you can get a Westy in the West with little to no rust. In the East, (esp. up North) with the exception of the garage-kept examples, all the Westys have unacceptable levels of rust. For those with a limited budget for a Westy, they may have no choice but to buy a somewhat rusty example. You do not need to. Note that the single most expensive repair that any Westy may require is bodywork, hence the emphasis on no rust.

3. Be patient, have your funds ready. I got three separate fantastic deals (including on my 1986 Syncro Westy), by waiting, but being ready to pounce on a good deal.

4. Engines: If the Westy has a stock wasserboxer (aka WBX), and if you want to keep it stock, you can either look for a relatively low-mileage example, or budget for a quality rebuild. If you install yourself, then together with reasonable replacement items usually required for a WBX rebuild, budget around $4,500 to $5,500 for the engine and another $1,000 for peripheral parts (eg, water pump, alternator, replacement/rebuilt Air Flow Meter, coolant hoses, new rad, etc).

5. If you go with a decent-running example, do budget (both time and money) for the minimum preventive maintenance:
-new radiator (unless you know existing one is 5 years old or less)
- change coolant to VW "blue" or "pink" coolant (non-phosphate) and use distilled water;
- preventively change water pump or carry a spare new one;
- replace all v-belts (VanCafe, GoWesty and Bus Depot all carry the correct ones)
- headlight switch;
- ignition switch;
- oxygen sensor;
- cat converter if you have emissions testing in your state;
- replace all CV joint dust boots and re-grease the CV joints;
- replace rear wheel bearings or at least re-grease;
- replace "Temp 2" coolant temp sensor;
- new spark plugs, rotor, cap, wires;
- new oil and filters;
- new fuel filter;
- buy and keep a spare fuel pump (easy roadside replacement)

6. Expect to pay more if the engine has been converted to a non-WBX engine. The main conversion engines out there now are Subaru (2.2, 2.5, 3.0, 3.3 litres), Bostig Ford, Audi/VW 1.8T. There are other good swaps that are orphans in the sense of not being very common and some not-so-good swaps (holding my tongue here) that are equally uncommon.

7. Expect to pay more if the WBX is a recent rebuild by a reputable WBX builder. The most respected WBX builders include :
- Vanistan: http://www.vanistan.com/performance_waterboxers.html
- GoWesty: http://www.gowesty.com/ec_view_category.php?id=82
- Rocky Jennings: http://www.rockyjennings.com/

8. Rust-free states with an abundance of Westys include:
- Washington
- Oregon (not so great right on the coast, though)
- Montana
- Idaho
- California (Westy Mecca!)
- Nevada
- Arizona
- New Mexico

9. There is a seasonal price premium (this is high-price season), but many sellers are still hurting from the recession, so YMMV.

10. Okay, here's my best hint of all: In addition to scouring the Samba classifieds, look through Craigslist and, in addition to searching for "Westfalia", search also for "Vanagon", "Westphalia", "VW Van" and "camper van" and "VW camper". I found two great deals that were described as "vanagon" for a nice westfalia, and "Westphalia" in another case. Their spelling mistake is your gain!
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TequilaSunSet
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tarandusVDub wrote:
Don't buy one. They are old and funky and take way too much time and money. Get a sprinter. Smile

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=587228&highlight=competition


Trouble maker... Razz
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tarandusVDub
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What?

Cool Twisted Evil Wink
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joetiger Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buy one! Enjoy the hunt for your Westy, drive it, enjoy it, deal with its idiosyncrasies.

If you find that you don't have the patience for it (unlikely) then sell it to the next guy in line.

Vanagons are fun. Regret is a drag.
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Gauche1968
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howesight wrote:
It's good that you have a realistic budget at $25,000. So here are the things I would consider as requirements at that price:

1. Get a 1990 or 1991 model since they do not include a failure-prone 3rd-4th gear drive hub. Obviously, I favour the 4-speed over the automatic. Resale values and size of the market, I believe, are superior with the manual.



Or buy an older one for less and put in a rebuilt transmission from one of the reliable rebuilders. A 1990 or 1991 transmission is still 24 or 23 years old.
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Syncroincity
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just in: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=1612292

Cool
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physast
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

joshivore wrote:

I definitely am looking for advice and some encouragement. I also need a place to vent about this other than my head at night when I should be sleeping.

dobryan wrote:
24k is a very realistic budget. Get a nice Westy for $15k and then over time put $10k into making it reliable. GO FOR IT! Very Happy


This is good advice! I want something that is already running and in good shape. I have dealt with used cars before so I know that no matter what I spend, it will need something.

tarandusVDub wrote:
Get a sprinter. Smile

I couldn't even if I wanted to. The wife is also in love with the vanagons. She learned to drive in one!

Howesight wrote:
.....

Great advice again! I will have to read this a few times more. I have found a few good deals, but I am not ready to pounce at the moment, but I am close.

joetiger wrote:
Buy one! Enjoy the hunt for your Westy, drive it, enjoy it, deal with its idiosyncrasies.

If you find that you don't have the patience for it (unlikely) then sell it to the next guy in line.

Vanagons are fun. Regret is a drag.

This is true. It appears buying a vanagon is kind of like buying a house. It can be an investment. I doubt I will get bored of it though.
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait......stop......don't do it.....how was that?


Man, This is the wrong forum for that question.
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Type17
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't buy a Vanagon. They're horrible. You won't like it.

Hope that helps. Laughing

But if you must buy one, don't blow your whole wad on the initial purchase. Even if every single part has been gone over and replaced something eventually will go wrong. You'll also want to have some cash to work with when setting it up for yourself. I don't know how the market is in DC but out here you can get a very clean camper with no major problems for $15k-ish.


Last edited by Type17 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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zeohsix
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See if you can meet up with Derek Drew he lives in DC offer to buy him a beer....Derek can set you straight on owning a T3 van. Myself, mine has been a money pit but the prize is close at hand a 1.8T powered Syncro Westy for under $30K.....my labor was free, if I had paid myself minimum wage it would be a $50K build.....should be done for 2014 camping season! Can't wait!
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physast
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PDXWesty wrote:
Wait......stop......don't do it.....how was that?


Man, This is the wrong forum for that question.


Your right, bad idea... Wink The amount of knowledge on this forum is amazing!

dobryan wrote:
I live just outside DC if you want to chat.


I would love to. The wife and I are going camping this weekend, but sometime next week I might give you a PM. Do you own a camper? I would be interested in learning the in's and outs and the problem spots to look for.
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photogdave
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah don't do it. Be like my friends and go camping in a "reliable" domestic minivan, and pretend to be as comfortable and having as much fun as I am! Laughing
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Syncronicity
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

joetiger wrote:
Buy one! Enjoy the hunt for your Westy, drive it, enjoy it, deal with its idiosyncrasies.

If you find that you don't have the patience for it (unlikely) then sell it to the next guy in line.

Vanagons are fun. Regret is a drag.


Well put Mr Tiger
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physast
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems we have some vanagon owners in/near DC. Cool I think my first order of business is to find them! I would love to actually see someones van and ask questions. Also would be great to have someone show me what to look for.
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regis101
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just jump in. You know ya want to
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

physast wrote:

dobryan wrote:
I live just outside DC if you want to chat.


I would love to. The wife and I are going camping this weekend, but sometime next week I might give you a PM. Do you own a camper? I would be interested in learning the in's and outs and the problem spots to look for.


Yes, I have an '87 Westy with a few modifications..... Wink
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'87 Westy w/ 2002 Subaru EJ25 and Peloquin TBD

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." Robert Louis Stevenson

MD>Canada>AK>WA>OR>CA>AZ>UT>WY>SD
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=620646

Building a bus for travel in Europe (euroBus)
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=695371

The West Coast Westy
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=746794
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