CC Capsule: 1991 VW Vanagon Syncro Westfalia

VW Westfalia Vanagon Synchro


CC covered VW Syncros in June of 2012 before I espied this juicy example outside of a surf shop in Cannon Beach, Oregon last August.  I’m a sucker for anything in orange and this Syncro was unabashedly orange. A 1986 Syncro road test in Car and Driver indicated that the 2.1 liter pushrod four could propel the 4000 lb (1800 kg) palace on wheels from zero to 60 mph (96 kph) in 18.3 seconds with a top speed of 79 mph (127 kph).

Synchro with chrome wheels

It is my understanding that Syncros were not made beyond 1991, so either this example has spent most of its life in a garage (research indicates that inertia is more common than motion with these things) or it has been recently restored. Syncros get a bad rap for reliability, while others state that with regular maintenance, Syncros will actually run. Just don’t drive too far from home. (And yet others take them globe-trotting under the most challenging conditions- Ed)

A Synchro at Cannon Beach Surf

As one reads further, “regular maintenance” turns out to be “replace the engine and drivetrain with Subaru components”.

14 Luxemburg

This is the orange Westfalia camper that my friend and I picked up new at the Westfalia factory in Germany. We then proceeded to spend the next five months living out of the VW while filming in France, Spain, and Morocco. It was comfortable digs for two along with all of our camera equipment. Cabinet hinges and latches were prone to failure, and the van cried for a five-speed transmission. The gap between third and fourth meant screaming in third or lugging in fourth. Spain is a very mountainous country so this was a daily problem. But otherwise, not a bad way to live on the road.