Vanagon Replacement

To the nice woman who loves her Vanagon but needs something safer, more comfy and with some mod cons – we are in Seattle and used to have a 91 Vanagon we also adored (my kids did especially). Although it had a/c, power everything, and so on – including a turbo diesel engine from a Jetta – we wanted to “graduate” as you do. So we opted for a Honda Element – with all-wheel-drive, foldable and removable seats, water and stain proof interior, and of course Honda reliability, it was the PERFECT replacement adventure car. Highly recommended!

We have a '91 Vanagon camper, aka a Westy. These iconic vehicles are making a big comeback. When we got ours, it was newish, and seemed modern compared to the old VW buses. But now they are all vintage, beloved, and revered. Do you know that ‘Go Westy’ sells restored Vanagon campers for up to $40,000 each? Do you realize there are VW meets all over the country, and there are bus-only events, there is Limbo, the Late model bus organization, and last, but not least, The Bus, a new documentary coming out about why we love these cantankerous, clumsy campers? If you must part with your vanagon, please realize it has value over many other used vehicles, and you may be able to get a premium price for it. see “The Bus” Road Teaser

Yes, agree with all that gnella says! DON’T just put it on Craig’s List or the local paper. The is a great sales outlet. Vanagons are loved and if yours is well cared for will find a loving home with someone who will appreciate its value. Again ours had a tdi engine from a Jetta stuffed in the back – more power, better mileage, and we got to fill it with biodiesel (just like we still do in our Passat TDI). Anyway, we sold it for a good amount even needing a diff (it was a Syncro). Good Luck! PS – Call me a sellout but I’m still glad we went with the Element…

I have an '87 Westy. They are NOT barbaric! As much as I’d like to be a barbarian, I just don’t measure up. Westy’s showcase fine German kraftwerk. I’m amazed about all the details in the vehicles, showing lots of thought into how to fit a great deal of comfort and convenience into a small package. Sure, I’d like to take a shower and go to the bathroom, but not doing so doesn’t make me a barbarian! Turning the passenger seat around 180 degrees, setting up two tables, putting a gourmet dinner on the stove, and pouring a fine (plastic) glass of red wine… nothing barbaric about that!

If you look on, you will see 84 Vanagons selling for several thousands of dollars - hardly “not worth a dime”. These vehicles remain popular because there is simply nothing on the market today that matches their utility.

There are a few companies willing to do after-market camper conversions to modern vans, but you’ll be paying $70K or more for the privilege of owning something that rivals what a well maintained Vanagon or classic bus could do 30-40 years ago for a fraction of the cost in adjusted dollars.

It really is a shame. The auto industry has turned its back on an entire class of vehicles that were once hugely popular and surprisingly advanced for their time, and there’s nothing today that fills that niche. Until that changes, I will continue to keep my 1978 westy alive and running and reliably taking us camping into the cascade mountains and beyond.