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16 year old son wants a westfalia

My 16 year old son wants a Westfalia, preferably a '60s-'70s model. He argues that he needs the room to carry musical instruments, etc., and there is some truth to this. He also has aspirations about retrofitting to run biodiesel and letting a friend paint a mural on the side.

He is a great student and very responsible, but he is also a 16 year old male so I think he should have a car that doesn’t come with a bedroom and does come with modern safety features. He’s willing to compromise with an 80s model that he says has airbags. I suggested a station wagon.

PS: He also plans to go to MIT. Will this help or hurt his chances?

Um…this is one smart young fella. Advanced for his age. I wish I’d have bought a vehicle with a bedroom when I was 16 years old. Have you ever tried, in a '61 Beetle, …naw, never mind.

The biodiesel…well, you don;t need a traveling bedroom to do a biodiesel conversion.

The only way it’ll hurt his chances of going to MIT is if he should suddenly have to support a “little one”.

[i]  [b] He also has aspirations about retrofitting to run biodiesel[/b] [/i]  All things are possible, (except for an honest quick oil change place) but changing that Wesrfalia over to diesel is one of the most difficult. He would have enough of a problem with that old VW keeping it stock.  

The 1980 version is doable, although you should expect a fair amount of possible problems with that old a car. 

It is a learning experience. That might be worth all the work.  I would have loved to have a VW van back when I was that age, but I ended up with a Sunbeam Imp (Only about a year old.) It did me well.  

Good Luck

These vehicles are UNSAFE, very unreliable, and will take a lot of his time away from studies just to get and keep it running.

I respect his aspirations, but this vehicle, no matter what fuel it runs on, will be one big and expensive headache.

There aren’t many Westfalia’s out there on the market. Models from the 60’ or '70’s will either be trashed out, or reconditioned and expensive. There isn’t much in between. I had a '71 VW camper, very slow, but it did get where we wanted to go - eventually. 18 wheel trucks can outrun a VW Camper.

They are not safe, period. The only good point safety wise is they are so slow you don’t get in much trouble. They handle lousy and are very easily blown around by wind. It is hard to hold a straight line on an interstate in a a cross wind.

Still, if has to have it I’d go along. If he has no mechanical skill this will get expensive to keep the car running.

It sounds like your son has been reading the comic strip “Zits”. The Westfalia is not a good idea. My wife’s boss has the opposite problem with his son. Her boss got a new car and passed the Pontiac minivan he had been driving down to his son who isn’t happy about the deal. I guess the kids at his school make fun of the boy driving a minivan. Maybe the solution for both boys is a minivan with a mural painted on the side. We did have an old Ford Aerostar running around on our campus painted up like a hippie van from the 1960’s. The last time I saw it the tin termites had eaten away part of a mural painted on the side.

I’m wondering if an old city bus or even a school bus with a diesel engine might be the ticket. The conversion to run on biodiesel would be easier, the converted bus would have enough space for three bedrooms and it would be safe. (I’m just kidding).

“All things are possible, (except for an honest quick oil change place)…”

Even that is possible. I’ve been using a Jiffy Lube in Ellicott City, MD for over 10 years. They provide good service and I’ve never had a complaint. By painting all shops with that incredibly broad brush, you run the risk of putting decent, hard working owners and employees out of business. I know that there are bad chain shops out there, but there are also good ones. I found one, and I don’t want them to shut down because someone who know nothing about them puts them in the same bin with the bad shops.

Try a more modern van from Ford (2005 for around $8000 with diesel). The mileage still stinks, but at least he’ll be safe.

Get your smart kid into the safest car that fits his needs according to your budget. I like that ridiculous box that Honda offers (sorry, I forget the name).

I think jtsanders must own an iffy lube franchise. See: He pops up there too.