Friday, August 12, 2016

Mobile Brick: 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Camper

Somewhere along the way while I was living under a rock, the bizarro world known as VeeDub Universe realized T1/T2 vans were becoming unobtanium and stumbled across the obscure bread loaf Vanagon of the '80s.  All of a sudden every hipster wanna-be needs one, and prices are rising faster than collective intelligence.  Find this 1984 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper for sale near Boston, MA for $15,800 via craigslist.

VW redesigned their ever popular micro-bus for 1980 into this shape affectionately known as "The Brick".  The T3 was initially received with much criticism regarding the design.  Gone were the rounded corners and smooth lines of the previous generations.  To make matters worse, the air-cooled type-4 engine was carried over to this heaver platform for the first 4 years of production resulting is less than stellar performance.  1984 models saw the introduction of the wasserboxer engine which helped boost performance & reliability.

These were built for utilitarian purposes and spartan interiors were pretty much standard equipment.  Not much in the way of luxury here...manual steering, crank windows, and speed-determined cabin temperatures.  Once the water-cooled engines arrived in '84 you could at least count on somewhat consistent heater settings.  As an added bonus, this one is listed with factory A/C.  Although basic in form, it gets the job done with minimal hassle.

Vanagons that ended up as Westfalia conversions were equipped with a host of features including a rear bench seat that folded down into a full-size bed, 3-way fridge, 2-burner stove, fresh water holding tank and sink, privacy curtains, and ample storage space. Camping for 2 is tolerable in such as small package.  The pop-top roof accommodated the ability to stand up inside as well as house another full sized bunk overhead.  T3 Westys are well past their intended design life and average condition today is rarely as clean as this example.  The seller's claim of 134K original miles is peculiar as most are pushing 250K+ territory.  These were built for roaming the planet, and typically got used that way from day one.     

What appears to be an outstanding specimen is offered at a price point otherwise reserved for much wearier examples.  If you ever dreamed of going off the grid or disappearing from society inconspicuously on a whim, this would equip you for all the ninja camping you can handle.  Simple to maintain, unassuming enough to camp in suburban neighborhoods without setting off alarm bells, and instant entry to the world of micro-brew veganpaloozas await.  Good luck finding that combination in another RV that isn't death spiraling into deprecation!                   

See another mobile pad worthy of cult-like followers? email us here:

When not receiving complaints of "distracted by cars...again" from his wife, Glenn can be found in the kitchen whipping up exotic cuisine and nourishing nosh.


  1. This is indeed in very good looking shape for the age. I am never sure about the mileage on these because like the odometers in early Porsche's they were 5-digit ones with a nylon gear that broke frequently. Most of these have by no been converted to Subaru power for more reliable power. I do like the plain colours and the fact that it is manual shift too.

  2. I happened to pick up an 85 in a more(?) attractive 'hot chocolate' color scheme last weekend. The 1.9L wasserboxer is... well exercised in this application. Check out the Bostig zetec conversion as an alternative to the subie swap.

    Looks to be in great condition - though I'd be willing to be dollars to donuts it's a respray in the original color.

    1. I suppose there's some bit of self-flagellation in swapping in a 2-liter four.

      If there's room for that blacktop Zetec to stand upright there ought to be room for a decent-sized V6 to fit.

    2. And if anyone is looking for a sweet 77 Tioga II that has already death-spiraled into depreciation, lemme know stat!

      [image src="" width="400px"/]


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