Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Vanagon syncro

Re: the airline pilot from Alaska.

There is a loyal following for the “Westy” Vanagon. I think if she wanted to do some additional research, try I know that to keep these vehicles alive a number of people have done Subaru engine conversions.

I’m a woman and I have a bit of experience living out of a vanagon; own several of them. I love vanagons but would advise the caller to look into a Dodge Sprinter instead. Here’s why: If you want to be incognito in a parking lot, the vanagon has some drawbacks. If you have a Westphalia camper set up, you’ll have to pop the top in order to stand up and get dressed. Or spend your days getting dressed whilst laying down, which gets old. With the pop-top up, the curtains drawn across all the windows, including the windshield, it is a dead give away that you’re sleeping/living there. Not always a safe idea.
With the Dodge Sprinter, you can set up the living arrangements as you like, bed, stove, storage, etc., you can stand up inside, it’s very private depending on which model of window options you choose, you’ll have ac and good heat, and the chance that you’ll break down on the way to your next adventure is greatly reduced. You can set up a Sprinter to be just as interesting and full of character as a vanagon. The price for a used Sprinter is comparable, I believe, to a well renovated and operating synchro.
Happy journeys!

As non-crash protective as they are I would like to have a Westphalia camper van. Being a VW mechanic I would get along fine with even the 1.8 (hope for a 2.0, avoid the water cooled). If I wanted a engine swap I would go for the Nissan V-6 (the engine used in mid 80’s Maximas). I would be just as happy with a 2.0 914 though.

I will suggest that you can find plenty of condos for less than $150K if you go into Contra Costa County. you will be about 1hr from the airport (at 5AM) and can make it to Napa County easily in about the same time. You will probably lose less than the cost of the Westphalia when you are re-assigned or decide to get a real job. :wink: You can’t , however, drive the condo to Burning Man.

Good Luck either way

Sprinter conversions are good, I am shopping for one now. Sportsmobile in Fresno CA converts them into campers and also converts 4-wheel drive vehicles into campers, and have used ones for sale. Take a look. Also Go-Westy has Syncros for sale in San Luis Obispo CA. I have a '99 Eurovan Converion right now and did a 9000 mile trip this summer.

“Bridgette” probably got her idea of living in the airport parking lot from one of NPR’s good shows:

I’d never heard of a Syncro before the show. Or if I had, I’d represseed the memory. If you are like me, here’s a website that tells about them. If they weren’t so rare and expensive, a Syncro would be a neat rig to use at the airport.

I had forgotten that I once read an article in (probably) FLYING Magazine about a couple who decided that they could not afford a house near John Wayne/ Orange County which they both flew out of for their jobs. They elected to buy a house 90 miles east of the airport where real estate was very cheap by comparison. Then they bought a “cheap” IFR equipped Cessna 152. Granted this was back in the day when a good C-152 could be had for $10,000. The caller could do that as cheaply as she could buy a house within an hour’s commute by car, and use a Westfalia just on the weekends.

With a little luck, the caller should be able to get into a decent C-150 or C-152 for under $30K. See:

I also have a neighbor who has retired from American Airlines. He used to commute 400 miles from here to his assigned take off point two or three times a week. He hitched a ride on a plane owned by the airline he flew for. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

You will also find in the Morro Bay area, a company called GoWesty. They refurbish Westfalia Campers and attach a warranty to all of their vehicles. This comes at a price, but if you are not keen on doing your own work, this would be the way to go. Use some of that airport wifi to get on the vanagon mail list.

I just took a look at the sales prices for restored Synchro Westys - $60,000 AND UP!!

Some over $100K!