By on September 19, 2016

1982 Volkswagen Transporter Westfalia in Colorado Junkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Volkswagen Vanagon has a global cult following, for reasons I have never understood, and the Westfalia camper version is an object of heavy-duty veneration among Vanagon zealots. You hear about the crazy prices that any Westfalia Vanagon will fetch … but it turns out that most serious Volkswagen fanatics are too cheap to pay the prices they quote so knowledgeably. So, rough examples of the Vanagon show up often at cheap self-service wrecking yards.

Here’s an ’82 that I found last week in the Denver area.

1982 Volkswagen Transporter Westfalia in Colorado Junkyard, stove - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This one doesn’t seem to be rusty, and it still has the genuine Westfalia stove and some of the furniture.

1982 Volkswagen Transporter Westfalia in Colorado Junkyard, transaxle - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The engine is gone, probably into a Porsche 914. These vans had air-cooled engines until the 1983 model year, when they went to a troublesome wasserboxer setup.

1982 Volkswagen Transporter Westfalia in Colorado Junkyard, LH HVAC vents - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This one has the rare factory air-conditioning option, which even the extremely irie Vanagon racers at GoWesty admit never worked very well.

1982 Volkswagen Transporter Westfalia in Colorado Junkyard, Westfalia emblem - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Was it on Craigslist for $10,000, and then $5,000, and then $1,000, and then consigned to the junkyard after penny-pinching buyers offering Volkswagen-themed cannabis edibles instead of money drove the seller mad? Probably!

Vanagon: It’s not a car. It’s a Volkswagen.

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38 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Even I wouldn’t put one of these on the road today, much as I love them.

    The world has simply gotten too violent and cruel for such gentle, casual motoring because effing people.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      A few years back on YouTube there were some van dweller / vloggers that all had these Westfalias that they lived out of while travelling around the US, and every single one of them had catastrophic engine failure in the middle of nowhere. After that the vlogging community seemed to sway toward the dirt-cheap and dead-nuts reliable domestic full size conversion vans over the trouble prone and gutless VW’s.

      (jeffthecanuck2, livinthevanlife, kylepounds)

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Nice big G20 Gladiator is comfy and won’t do ya wrong!

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I saw an E150 Traveler the other day. It had a very official looking badge!

          Was that a Ford model or just a really dedicated conversion?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Factory!

            “For 2001, the E-150 Traveler was launched, partially intended as a successor to the previous Club Wagon and Chateau models; due to the …”

          • 0 avatar
            la834

            I think that was the last attempt to sell full-size vans directly to consumers (as opposed to via conversion upfitters). Ford thought there may be a market from large families for whom a minivan is too small or can’t tow enough.

        • 0 avatar
          MoDo

          It seems the diesel Sprinters are what most lust after, but if on a budget I see no problem with a 90’s Dodge/Ford/Chevy conversion van. Upfront cost is less than a westy, parts can be found literally anywhere, on any budget, and most have onboard bathroom/shower facilites which the westy doesn’t. A subbie swapped westy is cool, but now you’re in used Sprinter territory if starting from scratch.

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        Here in Colorado, as I frequently run a fully loaded trailer for my rafting adventures over Vail pass, a Westy with a pool of oil under the ass end is a frequent sight. I always feel sorry for the usually Berkenstock clad optimists with East Coast Plates. I ‘ll stick to my 92’ Dodge Van!

        Repeat scene in Moab with Sycnros.

      • 0 avatar
        Click REPLY to reload page

        It’s programmed into the mechanics of the Microbus to break down when on vacation in the middle of nowhere. My dad’s ’72 “bus” hit 100K in the Arizona desert, he took a picture of the odometer, and it immediately spun a bearing and had to be towed nearly a hundred miles to the nearest VW dealer. We camped in the same place for a week, with no way to get around, while they waited for the parts to arrive from who knows where.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Someone called in to Car Talk wanting a VW van. Tom & Ray’s advice: Buy a Chevy van with the 350 V8, and disconnect four of the plug wires. It’ll be the same driving experience, but more reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        tsoden

        ROFL…. my cousin had the predecessor Toaster on Wheels version (Microbus?) that had a catastrophic engine failure in the middle of nowhere… he abandoned the van and never went back for it.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thanx for this, especially the commercial as it has the 1954 ” Barn Door ” Combi I used to own as the first van in the tail of the line .

    It took those boobs TWO DAYS to shoot on a small road outside of Hesperia, Ca. . memories .

    They paid me $500 / day to drive the van out there for the shoot .

    Yesterday I was at a Self Serve Junk Yard in Gardena, Ca. and they have one of these far sale out side the yard, t looks nicer that this one .

    My favorite Westy was my ’68 .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Joss

    How the land of the autobahn produced such a sloth…

    In the ad we see the Vanagon glacially passing type 2’s on an uphill grade.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I call shenanigans on that van-full of kids.

      Aryans anywhere haven’t reproduced like that since the days of Hitlermädel.

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        Yep. I live across the street from a guy living the dream. He’s fairly young, somewhat hipster but mostly normal, and works as an aircraft tech. Three-car garage full of lifted Jeeps (not the chrome ones, but 200k+ mile XJ’s and YJ’s), the occasional hot rod and touring bike, and the crown jewel: A Vanagon Westie in brown over tan. He commutes in it some days, and considering our slow 15-mile constipated-highway run it keeps up just fine. He even has the occasional cute girl in an import sedan stay the weekend or leave her car and hop in the van headed for who-knows-what music/camping/vw festival.

        What he doesn’t have? Kids. I’d love to be good friends with this guy, but my lack of wanderlust and wrenching time due to kid issues and events would completely irritate him. ::green::

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      Volkswagen Transporters (Buses, Loaves, Vanagons, Microbuses, Kombis, whatever) weren’t sloth-like where they came from. Their competitors certainly were not faster. Remember that in the 1950s, the competition included three-wheeled, 600cc two-stroke engined contraptions, and even in the 1970s the Hanomag/Mercedes 206D featured a 2-litre Diesel with all of 60 hp, straight out of an already comically slow Mercedes 200 D taxi.

      My own ’82 Diesel vanagon (admittedly with the 1.7 litre, 57 hp “big block” engine) is certainly not a sports car, but it keeps up with the mom-mobiles and the commercial vehicles in city driving and easily outpaces the big rigs on the Autobahn. Plus, unlike the Boxer gas engines (air or water), it will go flat-out all day without overheating. I only wish it had a five-speed, as it is really rather loud at speed.

      • 0 avatar
        Click REPLY to reload page

        As a kid, reading the owner’s manual from our ’65 VW, I was surprised to see that VW called it a “Station Wagon”.
        You can add that name to your list.
        Also, the newest facelift was called “EuroVan” here in the States. Has any other car had so many names for basically the same vehicle?

        • 0 avatar
          Lack Thereof

          The Eurovan, if I understand correctly, was a FWD van completely unrelated to the old bus/transporter/vanagon.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Yes, the Eurovan aka T4 was offered here in the states. They had the 5-cylinder, later models offered the VR6. There was also a Winnebago camper conversion model.

      • 0 avatar
        Joss

        Well back in the 60’s/70’s they were already considered slow. Ask Winnebago man.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    If you want some REAL penny pinching there was always the LeMons Bay window no one wanted, even for free!

    Never did like these late westies myself, one of their notable accomplishments was making the Volvo 940 look unsafe.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      Not just “look unsafe”, the Vanagon made the big Volvo *be* unsafe:
      http://www.dropgates.com/crash/

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        In that website, someone has actually typed and published the word “prolly.”

        I feel you need a better source.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I wouldn’t neccesariky call 7-940s “big”, but this is where I got my info:
        http://www.251.org/i/images-Volvo.html

        Yes it was a 740, but still, even a 940 would have trouble holding up. The taller VW just schews into that cars mediocre frontal structure.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Sure, in a partial overlap front impact test, the Vanagon won against a sedan by managing to rid up the hood.

      Of the two, I’d rather be in the Volvo in a wreck, in general.

      (Or in *any car sold in the US in the past decade* rather than either of them.)

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I”m shocked that this thing is in a salvage yard, let alone with most of its valuable Westy stuff. The market for Vanagon Westfalias is crazy hot, and has been for a while.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    What is the tall van-thing with swing out doors behind it? An early ML with cloth seats bearing kitschy pattern?

    Or do my pleeb eyes deceive me?

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    rockymountainwesty.com will be more than happy to convert your Westy from a VW powered slug to a Subaru powered Westy that will not only get out of it’s own way but do so with Air conditioning and a lack of overheating.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    We saw several of these on our trip around Yellowstone.

  • avatar
    Testacles Megalos

    All Hail the Westy – Split, Bay or Vanagon.

    inexpensive, easy to work on with good parts supply, and they fit in a normal garage space. Don’t need no stinkin’ RV park to go camping. Yet, you don’t have to sleep in a tent in a puddle when it rains. With a stove on board you don’t need Starbucks when caffeine deficiency strikes, and if you’ve got the fridge working you’ve got beer handy for helping to endure breakdowns. Life could be worse.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    My brother’s been driving one of these for about 15 years…a newer model with the water-cooled engine. It’s been pretty solid, except the heater is always on. He’s googled the fix, and the part he’s supposed to replace doesn’t exist on his car. Fortunately it rarely gets warm where he lives.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised that has that many parts left on it. There are a few I could use on my ’85, which we took on a family camping trip last weekend. Great times!

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    So what’s the deal with “Junkyard Gems” over on that other site? I know that Murliee contributes to numerous websites, but it seems a shame that TTAC doesn’t have a monopoly on this basic feature unless they absolutely don’t have the bucks.

    Besides, I don’t think the mouth breathing commenters over there fully appreciate this feature anyway.


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