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Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87
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pmw42069
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:43 pm    Post subject: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

The 83 is in rougher shape but the Diesel appeals to me for the gas mileage and the engine is upgraded for $5k.

Owner says: recent engine with rebuilt pump and injectors, mechanic owned for the last 20 years. Not pretty, but no big dents or rust either, runs well with 1.9D

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The 87 is in great shape inside and out and is asking $10k, so twice as much

Owner says: new rims tires, hoses, gas tank resealed, ac services, radiator flush, tune up oil changed, runs like a top, go westy bumpers, new Bilstein shocks, drive shafts, led lights, roof rack with led lights, arb canaopy, and many extras plus parts and tune up parts

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Which would you pick? Which is the better value. I plan to add a high top and propane and water tanks and stove and sink. If I went with the 87 I would maybe consider eventually swapping out the engine for a diesel for improved mileage, unless this is unadvisable.

Any and all thoughts are much appreciated!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

I'd pick the most solid chassis. The diesel can be false economy. We have a diesel in our 82, but the increased mpg is not paying us back. Plus its the dirtiest way to see America.

The red one looks more ready for camping, where the 87 would take a lot more to get it ready to camp.

I own an early 82 and a 90 Syncro. We prefer the 82. Its more utilitarian. Get the one that you want. Either is going to be a project.
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valvecovergasket
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

have you driven the diesel? Smile you may find its not for you

the mpg is definitely there - at least on our 1.9l swapped '83 diesel. it got pretty incredible mpg but you took your time getting places.

but yeah id pick based on most solid chassis. whys the diesel so cheap? that seems like low money or they dont know what they have...
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

That 1.9D, it’s a non-turbo, right? You should crawl under the engine driver’s side with a flashlight and look at the block on the bellhousing end behind the manifold. If it is embossed there “Made in Mexico” then report back
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pmw42069
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

Gnarlodious wrote:
That 1.9D, it’s a non-turbo, right? You should crawl under the engine driver’s side with a flashlight and look at the block on the bellhousing end behind the manifold. If it is embossed there “Made in Mexico” then report back


He did say it's no turbo. I'm not local so unfortunately I can't check out the bellhousing myself atm
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valvecovergasket
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 1:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

looking again i see WA plates on the red one - again suspicious of that low price. campable vans here should be much more.
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pmw42069
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 1:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

valvecovergasket wrote:
looking again i see WA plates on the red one - again suspicious of that low price. campable vans here should be much more.


Maybe its a deal I should jump on? How tough do you think it would be to drive up mountain passes with that engine? WHat kind of speed could i expect?
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valvecovergasket
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 1:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

pmw42069 wrote:
valvecovergasket wrote:
looking again i see WA plates on the red one - again suspicious of that low price. campable vans here should be much more.


Maybe its a deal I should jump on? How tough do you think it would be to drive up mountain passes with that engine? WHat kind of speed could i expect?


depending on the pass and load - 35ish

my hunch is the pricing is reflecting that there are more issues there than meet the eye. but, its also possible they dont know the market. i guess...


all that having been said, i really dig our '83 and didnt mind driving it daily for a time around portland even in 1.9d form. but you had to know what you were getting into. and we rarely took it on longer trips unless they were carefully planned to avoid as much 70mph freeway as possible.
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Last edited by valvecovergasket on Fri Apr 09, 2021 1:13 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 1:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

I love diesels, but can't recommend an NA diesel Vanagon. I've owned an '80, '82 (diesel), '88 and '89, and I definitely prefer the later chassis for a variety of reasons.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 1:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

pmw42069 wrote:
valvecovergasket wrote:
looking again i see WA plates on the red one - again suspicious of that low price. campable vans here should be much more.


Maybe its a deal I should jump on? How tough do you think it would be to drive up mountain passes with that engine? WHat kind of speed could i expect?


If its the 1Y diesel it has 63hp. The Vanagon is known to be remarkably slow with 90hp.

That said, I'd probably go with the 83 because it's already more suited to camping if the bodies are in comparable shape or even if the 83 is slightly worse. Engines aren't the hardest things to swap out. Body work is 20x more work than engine work. So if one chassis is rusted swiss cheese, then definitely do not buy that one. If I bought the 83 I'd buy it with the intention of swapping in a more modern turbo diesel.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 1:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

4Gears4Tires wrote:
If I bought the 83 I'd buy it with the intention of swapping in a more modern turbo diesel.


agreed
that was my motivation with our '83 as well.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 1:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

Quote:
Maybe its a deal I should jump on? How tough do you think it would be to drive up mountain passes with that engine? WHat kind of speed could i expect?
I don’t know where you are but the healthy 1Y engine (1.9D) is plenty strong for hill climbing. The typical 1Y was an industrial engine with good torque but less high end RPM than the turbo AAZ. My only concern is that if it is one of the VW Mexico engines it may have a defect you should be warned of:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=660056
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

Wait till you see the black soot belching out of the tail pipe on the Diesel. Blech! Who wants to be that guy?
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:08 am    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

Newer is always better to me, look at the price difference between diesel and gas and the difference in performance and the answer is easy.

I don't hate diesels, there are 2 fully operable diesels on my property, one a late model Diesel gate car a one an 89 TD in the single cab, drives fine but always smokes. Standards were way looser when these vehicles were new.

I think the diesel ship has sailed, my Wifes Hybrid Jetta does almost the same as the former TDi we had and gas is at least .30 a gallon cheaper.

Buy the newer van and let someone else deal with the cave man 82 its 1.6 NA diesel.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2021 1:03 am    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

The diesel might do well for someone in Ca.
Register it in its current configuration; never smog again, and then repower in the engine of your choice.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

pmw42069 wrote:
valvecovergasket wrote:
looking again i see WA plates on the red one - again suspicious of that low price. campable vans here should be much more.


Maybe its a deal I should jump on? How tough do you think it would be to drive up mountain passes with that engine? WHat kind of speed could i expect?


The question is do you have money to pull that old boat anchor and install something more modern and reliable and ready for 10k miles of travel?

Id buy the solid vehicle and plan for the swap.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2021 7:23 am    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

oceanair wrote:
Wait till you see the black soot belching out of the tail pipe on the Diesel. Blech! Who wants to be that guy?


If it's in good running order there'll by very little, if any
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

I would choose the '83 diesel. The 1.9 non-turbo gives reasonable performance and could have the turbo added if more power is desired. A later swap to a Mk3 TDI would be easy. The '83 also came stock with the 5-speed. Add on the pop top and it would be the clear choice even if the two were the same price. At 1/2 the cost, that is a steal, IMO.

The idea that any of the VW diesels 'belch black smoke' is not correct. They will only do so if someone intentionally tunes them that way or if something is wrong with them.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2021 6:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

I have an 82 that I briefly drove with the 1.6 NA. It was not acceptable in Wisconsin. I picked up a 1.9l IDI diesel that came from the factory with oil sprayers for the pistons. Easy to bolt on a turbo. I would also suggest 15" rims and tires to slow the engine down. I now get 32-34 mpg , and made it thru the mountains of PA at 45 mph in third gear.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:19 am    Post subject: Re: Which Vanagon would you chose? '83 1.9L Diesel vs '87 Reply with quote

I suggest that you buy the van that requires the least amount of body work / painting. Either van will require an engine transplant sooner or later but addressing body work issues will quickly swallow up any price differential - if they're relatively the same body wise, then the later year is the better choice.
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