1984 VW Vanagon Westfalia - Full Camper
2004 Subaru Forester 2.5L non-turbo 4 cylinder engine Installed last winter
4-speed manual transmission
Approx 192,000 miles on chassis
This is Sassy (short for Sasquatch), she is our Westy camper. She was just a little bit quirky when we first met her, but we've fixed her up a bit and now we love her! It seems i'm never satisfied though, and i want some bigger Detroit iron with a turbo diesel, 4WD and a heavy towing capacity. I'm nervous that i won't like it as well as little Sassy though. Only one way to find out i suppose. So we're putting Sassy up for adoption.
I knew right away that the old VW waterboxer engine was not going to cut it for me. It was incredibly slow, had some quirks (somewhat unreliable), and made me very nervous about taking any long trips. So, over the 2009-2010 winter i installed an engine from a 2004 Subaru Forester. I used all the parts from the SmallCar ( www.smallcar.com ) conversion kit, which has been developed and refined over many years, and is now probably the most widely used converters and kit available. Hundreds (thousands?) of VW vans have been converted using their parts.
The conversion works fantastic. Power is great (goes over Mt. Hood or Santiam Pass at 60-65, you only slow down when you have to for curves), reliability has been fantastic (no problems starting or running weird ever) and i couldn't ask for much more. It is a little bit louder than stock (see future suggestions at end). The only quirk to it, is that while the engine is cold, and if you're not at a complete stop, it has a very high idle. This goes away once the engine is fully warmed up, and isn't a problem at all in the summertime. This is because the engine is from an automatic and it's now in a stick-shift. It doesn't cause any problem, and doesn't even occur once the car warms up and the computer switches off the warmup program.
- New water pump, timing belt and pullies on Subaru engine before it was installed
- Engine conversion included new clutch, flush of transmission oil, new transaxle seals, new stainless steel exhaust headers, new muffler, new fuel lines, new fuel filter
- New front transaxle mount
- Fuel tank reseal kit from vancafe installed
- new front brake pads, front wheel bearings inspected & repacked, rotors sanded and cleaned
- Original steel wheels and hubcaps, plus TWO sets of mercedes aluminum wheels with tires. One set is 16" for summer, and one set is 15" for winter (so there is clearance for tire chains)
- Propane tank serviced, new regulator and valves
- Cool and comfortable smaller steering wheel
- Custom heavy-duty rear bumper with integrated super bright LED tail/turn lights - no more VW tinfoil chrome rear bumper or automatically disintegrating plastic ends
- Custom bumper has heavy duty integrated receiver hitch for towing or bike racks. You can actually tow a load with the subaru motor! Also wired for trailer lights and includes super bright LED tail/turn lights. Much better than the weak VW ones. You will be seen at night!
- Very nice stereo, high power output, very customizable, mp3 cds, headphone-jack auxiliary input, remote (great for controlling the stereo from bed!) but the speakers are pretty much shot.
- Headlight relay kit installed. Brighter lights and no chance of melting wires (which is a problem on any vanagon that has not had this repair done).
- Gas shock assist on pop-top. Makes it very easy to put the top up and down, even with roof rack and gear on top. This is a simple but wonderful thing!
The camping gear all works: the sink, the stove and the fridge (on 110v, 12v and propane). Both beds are in great shape, sleeps 4 total. We've slept 4 adults, no problem, everyone was comfortable and having fun. Both front seats swivel. There are 2 removable tables. Tons of storage. It's so great to be packed up for 2 weeks on the road and have nearly all your gear tucked away into cupboards and cabinets, so the van is not a cluttered mess! The weekender models are probably great if you need to haul more people, but for 4 or less people, the camper is the way to go! So many conveniences.
This van has virtually no rust! I would say there is none at all like a lot of poeple do, but that's not true of ANY car. Anyway, suffice it to say that rust is NOT a problem. This van has an undercoating that i'm guessing was factory original. It is failing now and flaking off. Where it is coming off, what you will find underneath is what looks like brand spanking new paint, even though it's over 25 years old. As far as the paint on the outside of the body, it's not like new, but it's fine. It isn't lustrous like a brand new rig, but it's far from being gone and rusty. A good polish/buff/wax might even spruce it right up, i'm just not into that sort of thing.
What you might want to consider in the future:
- You could gear up the transaxle through German Transaxle or AA Transaxle (Darryl), the subaru has plenty of power and it would help the noise levels and fuel economy to gear up a bit. Add a limited slip or diff-locker while at it and have a real go-anywhere machine.
- Body work. I've decided not to do the bodywork, because it doesn't affect function or performance, and if i did do it, i'd be more nervous about future scratches and dings, rather than just enjoying this wonderful vehicle.
- There is a gentleman in Portland named Eric who installs Porsche mufflers on vanagons. They are supposed to be very quiet and fit nicely in the space on the vanagon. One of those would probably quiet the subaru right down. Or just take it to Midas or whatever and have them pop something a little better on.
Since most of these pictures were taken while we were using the van, you see a lot there that will not be included with the sale. What is seen in the pictures but not included:
- Roof Rack. I will leave the artificial gutter mounts, so that it is easy to mount your own racks.
- All camping gear, propane heater, etc.
- Bike rack and gas can
- I guess that's it. They are not visible, but currently installed are an auxiliary battery and an inverter for camping. I plan to keep those for my next rig. But we may be able to negotiate for you to keep them. Particularly since the battery is a special one that is the best you can get for this particular van. It is stored under the driver's seat so it doesn't take up any cargo space.