(first posted 12/10/2015)
It’s here! The new van from VW.
Read all about it, taken from R&T’s 1980 July issue:
This article reminds me of a T3 I photographed in the Salzburgring paddock’s last year, during a race meeting:
No points for guessing which engine that is. I will add that the break setup also originated from the same manufacturer.
“Sets the standard in van design & execution“ – only half of that was true, it proved a design dead-end compared to the later FWD family van (Espace, Voyager) in the ’80s.
You’re absolutely right. The forward control configuration was a dead end. Despite the impressive attempts VW made to provide crash protection on the T3/vanagon it was a dead end.
But, if you compare the actual useful room between the T3 and the T4, and I’m looking at westfalia versions, the T3 comes out ahead.
If we all drove at a maximum speed of 60kph then the forward control might still have a chance. For sure my vanagon syncro will run rings around a T4 in rough roads and when it comes to setting up camp. But for the rest of the time the T3 and T4 ( and T5) are very much superior.
It’s all horses for courses. We have our preferences in vehicles and I’m sure if forced we all can admit of their shortcomings.
Yes, no question but that VW’s space utilization was optimal with its under-floor engine. But since regulators were pressing the collision issue, its demise was inevitable. Citroën’s H van proved prescient.
In power terms, what the bus really needed was the flat 6, which Porsche actually had in its B32 adaptation (though a bit excessive; a derated one optimized for torque might’ve made more sense for most users).
VW did a great job refining the VW Van with the Vanagon. Fuel tank, spare tire and battery up front to improve weight distribution, much improved crash safety. Coil spring suspension improved ride and handling. The water boxer was a mid ’83 introduction, and before that the diesel engine was an option as well. But the diesel was scary slow. Too bad the water boxer had so many head gasket issues, but it and the diesel finally introduced a proper heating system, and made AC and power steering available. Brother had a ’86 Westfaila. Drove nice and had decent power if you really used the gears. But it had head and gasket failures a couple of times, also eventually blew it’s four speed transmission. although towing a 3000 lb loaded U haul trailer cross country was blamed for that.
A noisy and uncomfortable ride these cars was. And extremely slow, even slower with the diesel engines.
You obviously didn’t even read the review. Or actually had any experience with them. These had a significantly better ride than American vans of the time, and the review praised it for that. They handled very well too. And they weren’t noisy at all; with the little engine way back there, it could hardly be heard on the inside, especially towards the front. Much quieter than my ’77 Dodge van, with the engine roaring inches from my body.
Comments like yours are not really welcome here.If you have something half-way intelligent to contribute to the conversation, please do so. But if it’s just to spew uniformed vitriol, please save it for another website. Thanks.
These vans was very regular in Norway at the times, but they rusted at an impressive pace and with head gasket problems with both diesel and pertrol engines these vans didn’t live to long. Uninformed? I think we Europeans are a lot more informed with VAGs than you americans are. The fact that I think a Chevrolet Van (starcraft) from the 80s with pertrol engine is both quieter and more comfortable does not give you the right to ask me to stop posting at this site. The Van is/was also way more reliable and tougher over the years. The Caravelle used less petrol, that’s about it, and it looks nice. Handling was better with the Caravelle.
A mate of me drove a van like this in 10 years. These vans wasn’t especially good in any ways. They where good in the snow here in Norway.
To say these where not noisy at all, did you read the review?
From the article:
50 mph 75 db (!)
70 mph 81 db (!).
And you do not think that is noisy?
You also did not think it’s slow? Have you even tried the diesel versions of it? Even the biggest engine is slow, but for the times it was ok. The problem is that many of the was sold with diesel engines over here. They are unbeliveable slow, top speed around 120 kmt.
You wrote “A noisy and uncomfortable ride these cars was”. And I responded to those specific words of yours, since the near universal opinion on these T3 is that although they did have some very specific limitations, they had what was generally considered to be the best suspension of any van at the time. Which is why it’s ride and handling is almost universally praised. Except by you.
I didn’t rebut your claim that it was slow. That’s universally acknowledged, although the later wasserboxer versions weren’t all that bad. Even in this review, the performance with the 67 hp air cooled engine was considered adequate for most use. The diesel was extremely slow, but it was built for a purpose: mainly for commercial vehicles in Germany and other parts of Europe.
I said they were less noisy than riding in my ’77 Dodge van. I’ve ridden in both a friend’s air cooled T3 and spent lots of time in my Dodge.
I don’t know where they measured the sound. But I’m guessing it was largely wind noise. And do you have comparisons to other vans at 70 mph? We’re not talking about passenger cars.
Given your user name, your highly opinionated comments are to be expected, but just not welcome. It gets old fast, hearing the same thing repeated over and over. These VW vans had strengths and weaknesses. An uncomfortable ride (on much better seats than American vans) simply wasn’t one of them.
I did not meant to offend you Paul. I really like this site and your and other peoples articles. And I can understand that my first comment here seem small or none contributing to the story.
But I have driven so many kms witht these vans that I know they are not comfortable and quiet. Yes, the ride is not the worst, and they have really good handling and ok brakes, but the noise ruins everything when you are supposed to be on a longer trip with these.Belive it or not, these vans are popular over here, but they have never been regarded as a comfortable van, and the noise levels are pretty much blamed for that, and engine power (a lot with diesel engines here).
The article in this review has a quietness measurements. On diesel Vans I would think that engine noise actually is a part of it. High revs at highway speeds with the diesel engines.
If I can compare these VW Caravelles with a Chevrolet Starcraft (not 6,2 Diesel) The Chevrolet wins when it comes to reliability, quietness, load capacity, comfort, interior space, engine power and equipment. The VW is the better handler, better steering, better brakes and uses less fuel. The Chevrolet would maybe be safer inn a collison. The VW has a very small crumple zone.
I do not agree with you about the seats. But that is a personal conception I think.
Buick430, I live in Austria and drove enough of the things back in the day. Slow they were but not particularly noisy. As for reliability, there are still a few on Vienna’s streets doing what they were designed for. You also have to remember the Chevy vans exported to Europe were usually the top versions with full trim and insulation, not the bare fleet models with a wheezing six which were pretty agricultural and – yes – noisy (and before you ask: I drove those too before I left Israel, where we had both VWs and Chevys/GMCs). I don’t know what you had in Norway but if you got the 112hp Caravelle, this was not slower than a Vandura six (150 Km/H top speed). And of course, there was the Oettinger flat six with 180 hp I think and performance to match the V8 Chevy.
Incidentally, these T3s are slowly but surely becoming the next big thing on the VW van scene (in Israel and Austria both) now that the T2 are no longer available cheaply. Good Synchros are becoming expensive and are highly praised for their off-road ability.
Ironically, the T4, with its FWD and front engine, was generally considered to be an improvement in many ways, except for engine noise, which was now much more prominent.
The reality is this: these VW vans are very different vehicles than big American vans; it’s like comparing apples and oranges. I’ve spent lots of time in both of them. And I’m familiar with their respective pros and cons. There’s no question that the American vans were better suited for most American users. And a lwb American van would give a decent ride on a smooth interstate.
But the T3 rode and handled more like a European car rather than a big truck. Try driving an American van briskly through a windy mountain road. The T3’s chassis could handle a much wider variety of situations with aplomb. try driving a T3 and a Chevy van off-road, or down a very rough road. day and night difference.
But obviously many folks couldn’t care about that. It’s the same reason lots of folks prefer a big Buick or Cadillac over a VW Passat or BMW or such. It’s a matter of preference and use. If you like rolling down the interstate at a sedate pace, the big American van (or car) is your thing. Or if you need more room, or a flat rear floor, or haul a trailer.
I can appreciate the pros of both designs, but each clearly had its weaknesses.
“The reality is this: these VW vans are very different vehicles than big American vans; it’s like comparing apples and oranges. I’ve spent lots of time in both of them. And I’m familiar with their respective pros and cons. There’s no question that the American vans were better suited for most American users.”
That pretty much nails it. These vans were great for some things, others not so much. Likewise with American vans.
Paul, now you mentioned this, yes the T4 had more engine noise, not too bad but noticeable on trips from Austria to the UK looking for Jaguar spares. And with 78 hp fully loaded you were limited to 100 Km/H. The TDi was a rocket, particularly the chipped ones which would stay on the Autobahn at 150 Km/H all day long, stable as a rock.
The review points to rather high db levels, especially at high speed. That has less to do with the engine – although VW boxers are noisy, the van has the advantage of a large distance and a lot of metal to muffle it. No, the source of the noise in these vans was from wind noise, especially at high speed, something VW’s often struggled with through the 1990s.
It is also definitely much slower than even the smaller-engined american vans of the 70s. As for noise and comfort in US vans, I assume your experience was with commercial vans, and not the likes of the E series Chateau, so I am not sure if it is directly comparable to this vanagon.
Commercial vans are definitely more spartan, but I don’t know about comfort. I’ve been in two vans- a 1980s Vanagon (Don’t remember the year) for a little while, and a 1997 Ford E-350 (box van). I didn’t drive the Vanagon- I only rode in it for a trip.
The Ford had lower wind noise, but was more “tipsy” as to be expected. I preferred the seating position on the Ford- the axle being in front seems more “natural” to me.
The VW’s wind noise was terrible, though. I agree that the noise is mostly caused by that. The engine seemed quiet, but slow. Now, I’m used to newer vehicles, so that may have been passable for the time.
The impression left by the Vanagon to me was that it was an appliance. It really didn’t annoy me, nor did it please me. It was just “there”.
I own a 1987 Chevrolet with the 305, and a 1986 Dodge with the 4bbl 360. I think I’d prefer an American van from the era, but that’s just me. My Ford was unreliable and end-of-life, but for what it was, it was pretty comfortable. My older pickups aren’t too uncomfortable for me, so I think I’d have liked a Chevrolet Beauville or a Dodge Ram Van.
My experience with american vans have been some Chevrolet Starcraft and one Beauville. One of them with the noisy and very slow 6,2 diesel engine. The VWs was Caravelles. 1,7 Diesel. Even with the engine all way back there, the diesel engine was quite noisy at highway speeds. A lot of revs an an 1,7 Diesel with 54 hp. One with the 112 (?) hp petrol engine.
Yes and you forget how noisy after a while I passed a Bay window van on the motorway this arvo he was doing around 90kmh 55mph the racket from the eggbeater in the back was impressive and it wasnt working hard on the flat going, it all came back rather quickly I havent been in a aircooled VW van for a while.
Back in high school, early ’80s, my drafting teacher had a single cab pickup version of these, with a diesel. Those were still called Transporters. He had custom plates on it that read ‘1NONLY’
I remember the Vanagon of the 80s. While I’ve never owned one myself, I have driven one, and I loved driving it. It had its faults and weaknesses, but I found it fun to drive, and if you’re careful how you drive, perfectly safe.
Above all, the VW T3, just like all other generations (T6 nowadays), was a commercial vehicle. With seats in the back it was used as a taxi bus, not as a family car.
Here’s a direct competitor from the eighties, a one ton FWD Fiat Ducato. Not available as a Ram ProMaster back then.
Well, maybe to a lrge extent in Europe, but in the US the T3 (and otgher generations) were used almost exclusively as family transportation, not commercially. And I think that all VW T generations were designed to be equally effective at hauling cargo as well as people. And the least few generations of the Caravelle are generally considered to be very refined people haulers.
Frankly, I’m more comfortable in the back of a roomy van like the VW than in most passenger cars. I can sit properly, like on a good tall sofa, rather than slouched low. of course I’m tall.
It does explain why vans of all kinds got to be so popular: folks simply liked the large amount of room for their bodies and stuff. And why vans became ever more comfortable and luxurious.
Aha. Well, since vans have become more car-like than truck-like in the past years, many family men who also run a business drive a double cab van. Like the VW T5 below. Both commercial vehicle (registered and taxed as such) and family car. Yet vans with only seats, and thus no cargo area, are still very rarely used as a family Transporter.
Now there’s a noisy van. These were not very nice.
In the eighties an average big (COE) diesel truck offered more comfort and a better soundproofing than a diesel van.
I clearly remember the VW T3 single cab pickup, the Mercedes-Benz T1 (Bremer Transporter) and T2 (Düsseldorfer Transporter) vans and finally a Ford Transit Mk3 van with the direct injected 2.5 liter diesel.
The Mercedes diesel vans were heavy-duty and practically unbreakable. Yet spartan and loud, with a simple hard plastic engine cover in the cab. The Ford was more car-like (the way it drove, the dashboard).
That’s the thing I’ve always liked about the rear-engine Volkswagen Vanagon. With the engine clear in the back of the bus, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to hear the engine. Sure, the forward control design can be dangerous if you have an accident. But then don’t get in an accident! Drive carefully, patiently, and you’ll be fine. 🙂
To quote the late and great Tommy Cooper:
“I always sit in the back of a plane. It’s much safer. You never hear of a plane backing into a mountain”
I like these vans. The part of the commentary where they said they considered 12 configurations and then decided to build them the old way and just make improvements. Good for VW. Worked better than the Eurovan where they built them modern, but then bent over backwards to come across like the old ones.
Interesting timing. I just bought a ’91 GL over the weekend. It had been stored for many years, and had 80k miles on the clock. It is a weekender package, not a westy. We plan to tow it behind our ’78 GMC Kingsley motorhome.
I have not driven one for years, so bringing it home all of the old memories – mellowed and improved – were a real rush. The ’91 is a 2.1 water cooled, with front and rear heaters that are excellent. The fit, finish and noise are all reasonable for the 24 years it has aged.
The power is much better than I remember compared to the bay window T-2’s, and I think the end-of-production models slayed a lot of phosphate corrosion issues from earlier models. My grandkids (2 to 8) think it’s the coolest thing ever. My wife calls it Scooby. Good times.
Nice van. I ran an 86 for about 10 years until about 3 years ago sold it to a nice lady and I still see it around town. Keep an eye on the various cooling hoses as they tend to wear out after a decade or 2. I think running the proper vw spec coolant helps but there is a lot of it and it is expensive. I would also recommend using a stainless steel exhaust if the stock one wears out as they will last a lot longer. Other than that keep up on the maintenance and tin worm. As my old mechanic used to say “it will last forever”. Gowesty is a great source for parts and has some great information on keeping these running. Good luck and enjoy!
WE owned an 84 Wasserboxer for nearly a decade and loved it. It had the handling of a sporty car, was nimble and fun to drive. The build quality, interior space, driving position and comfort was far ahead of any minivan at the time. The 1.9 motor though, was underpowered, especially with automatic trans and A/C. if only VW could have developed a flat 4 similar to the Subaru 2.2 or 2.5 they could have continued to dominate the market. There is a big aftermarket and cult around doing the Subie swap, especially in the Westfalia models. Wish I had mine back because I would love to do the swap.
I have never even ridden in a T3, but owned a 5 cylinder/auto T4 Eurovan briefly. TONS of space inside, given the outside dimensions. A friend’s mother had a T2 in the mid-70s and I can still remember the smell of that van…just like my mom’s 66 Beetle…there’s something about the interior plastics and the horsehair(???) seat pads that is instantly recognizable.
My ex g/f’s brother had an ’85 T3 Vanagon after unloading his ’72 baywindow bus. For what they are, all rear engine VW buses are pretty tenacious off road, put to the test while exploring the mountains in southern Oregon. Granted, he couldnt follow my mildly lifted ’95 YJ Wrangler everywhere but he kept up in places I wouldve never thought possible with only 2wd, half the hp/torque and tiny little trike tires. They may be slow but total mountain goats. When he got the ’85, even though this was a 20 year old vehicle at the time I was suprised by how solid and tight the body and interior were. I found that van very comfortable and the forward control cab made for a rig that was a dream to drive in urban areas.
Id love a T3 pickup with Syncro. Single or double cab would be fine, but Id definitely want to scrap the underpowered and unreliable wasserboxer in favor of Subaru power. Such conversions are very popular. Either the H6 or the 2.5 turbo would be perfectly suited to a T3.
Darn things are so unreliable, this week my 86 syncro’s starter decided to fail. And this happened at only 412,000 km!
You did well, my first one went around 250000 kms. The replacement Bosch only lasted 6 months and the third done under warranty seemed to do the trick… Shortly after buying the Bosch rebuilt one I realized go westy makes a new one, something about the windings getting weak after 20 plus years on the road was what I was told…
What I’ve never understood was why the Vanagon was never offered with a more powerful engine than was available. I would’ve thought that instead of 67hp, and 101 ft-lbs of torque, 80hp and 130 lbs.-ft. of torque, would’ve been a better choice.
If LiMBO is a reliable source (http://www.limbobus.org/engines.htm), the 2.1 in the late model Vanagons have 90 hp. It drives great.
Thank you. I’ll check it out. 67hp would’ve made fine diesel engine horsepower, better than the 40 something that was offered at the time.
There is a bit of speculation as to why VW didn’t offer a more powerful engine in the vanagon. Right away you ask the question why an inline four gas engine wasn’t installed. Some say that production of I4 engines was at capacity for Golf/Jetta production and the tooling was all there to continue air cooled and then later water cooled boxer engines for the van. That sort of makes sense but inline diesel (non turbo 1.6 litre) engines were an option in 82 vans.
Later 1.6 turbo diesel and 1.7 litre naturally aspirated diesels were offered. But the water cooled boxer (2.1 litre available in 85.5 – 86 model year) continued right through to the end of production in 91/92.
VW in South Africa used the inline 5 Audi engine (2.2 non turbo) in some of their domestically produced vanagons.
There were many variations and interesting versions of the vanagon over the years. The US only got a very limited selection.
Right now the popular engine swaps in North America are the Subaru 2.2, the 2.5, Ford Zetec, and 2.0 litre VW inline 4 gas and inline 4 tdi. VW 1.8t is done too.
In Europe there are other interesting swaps, Audi V6 and V8 for instance.
One caveat in the engine swap department. There is a limit to the amount of power the stock transmission can take, and the vanagon syncro transmission is especially sensitive. Of course there are folk who can make high power work with other transmissions installed.
I love my vanagon. It’s an 86 syncro tin top that I converted to a pop top and installed full Westy interior. For what I want a vehicle to do it does it well. I camp in remote areas, rough road access, and really I can’t think of a good alternative for the amount of money I spend on it.
PS attached is pic of the failed starter, commutator end. It gave its all, wearing the brushes right down to the nub.
There were water-cooled boxer engines available at the time, if I remember correctly. Subaru offered Wasserboxer engines at the time. With a little mod here and there, I would think it could’ve worked for the Vanagon.
I wonder too. What was the Subaru engine size and power in 84 when VW started with the 1.9 l water boxer in the vanagon?
The early nineties Subie 2.2 is a great engine, and a good one for the van. But could that have been possible in 86 when VW put the 2.1 in?
I have no idea what goes on in the offices of car companies. One can imagine all kinds of scenarios including both sensible and misguided decisions. But I don’t have the knowledge nor authority to say what they should have done 🙂
It’s possible. While I’ve always liked the styling of the Vanagon and the rear-engine design of the 70s and 80s VW Bus/Vanagon, the acceleration performance leave a *lot* to be desired.
Correction, VW of South Africa put the 2.5/2.6 litre Audi five in the vanagon, not 2.2l
Paul, how do these hold up as Eugenemobiles? It seems like they have all the usual aspects of one, but that oil filler issue tells me they’d be more common in Portland among people who religiously go into Washington state for self-service fillups.
An awsume vehicle to powerslide up snowy mountain ranges with, aslong as you got the 2.1 112hp version. That engine had alot of torque for its size.
Ive had alot of far more powerful vehicles than the vanagon, hemi, smallblock etc, but none as fun as the van.
Im on my third vanagon now, westy this time. But being an 85 with the 1.9, it needs an engine transplant.
Ive always considered the b-o-p 3.5 alu v8, perhaps in range rover disguise, could be the perfect engine for this van, packaging and heritance not considered. It would preserve its lightweight powertrain, more than any other swap, and perhaps give it the optimal hp range, if one consider longevity of the rest of the drivetrain aswell.
Slightly off-topic, but has anyone noticed how expensive older Westfalias are? It seems like it’s close to zero percent depreciation. I see quite a few on the Southern Oregon coast being used as surfer vans.
Oil/Filter change every 17,500 miles ? As in 28,000 km ? I hope that is not the manufacturer’s recommended interval…
My thoughts exactly, six years later.
Was the boxer extraordinarily easy on oil? Did the sump have incredible capacity?
Prevailing wisdom was that these hard-working engines were due for an overhaul somewhere between 80K and 120K km anyway, so perhaps the extended OCI didn’t hurt longevity.
What’s not to like? Vast improvement over the T2, and I thought they were good looking. I had a friend who’s father had a succession of T2’s, and it was an epic day when he made the switch to a Vanagon. His first was an early air-cooled version, and it served him will until it was taken out by a cement mixer (thankfully, it was parked). He replaced it with a ‘water-boxer’. That one was not bad, but not as good as the first.
Extra points: Anyone remember the Brazilian built VW medium trucks that used Vanagon cab components? A few were sold in the U.S. by Peterbilt.
I think you mean the MAN-VW G90 cab, based on the VW LT-series (big vans / light trucks).
Kenworth sold them too, as K150-K220-K300.
I can’t unsee the cab’s origins!
The current light COE Kenworth model, the K270, uses a DAF cab. Just like the Peterbilt 220. All in the family.
I’ve never seen a MAN truck like this. It probably was never sold here in the USA. But what was offered here was the Peterbilt Midranger. I’ve never driven one, but I’ve seen plenty of them.
The blue cab is DAF, not MAN.
Here’s a MAN G90 10.150 (10 tons / 10,000 kg GVW, 150 hp).
Ah! Ok. Nice looking truck. The blue truck is a Kenworth.
I love these and want one of the SA ones with the inline 5 and camper interior. Does anyone know if These were offered with the Synchro system? That would be very useful!
I used to deliver T3s for a dealer and they really handled. With the bulkhead between the driver compartmrnt and load area you could hardly hear the motor and the ride was great. The early ones were slow though, Diesels with 50(?) hp even more sluggish. Synchros are really impressive off road, where even the 2WD versions are pretty capable.
Of course Porsche had a fleet of these with 911 motors to accompany prototypes during testing – apparently they ran nearly 200kmh fully loaded with passengers and kit.
BTW, Oettinger made a flat 6 for these based on the Wasserboxer, not the Porsche motor. I think they went pretty well, too.
The Subaru H6 does (just) fit and a friend’s van, so equipped, does hilarious burnouts…
if someone is looking for Vanagons with Audi inline 5 engines, w or w/o syncro 4WD: Please look for “Volksiebus”, this will lead to several sites in ZA. There are some nice finds on the gumtree site for sale from time to time.
In the 90s our weekend car was a Vanagon 1.6 TD. Yes, it was kind of slow and noisy, compared to our daily drivers Audi 200 turbo quattro and similar but offered so much space and commodity! Right now in our garages there are (for summer use only) a 1986 Vanagon crew cab (1.9 TD conversion, with a camper pick-up) and a 1990 Multivan 2.3 (ZA conversion, 136 hp).
These Oettinger flat 6 engines arenicely made and well known but spare parts are almost unobtainable nowadays and the beasts are thirsty. No good choice in Europe!
If you want to spend about 75k$ you can obtain a “Claer” VW Bus, that is a T3 with Porsche 964 engine and G50 gearbox fitted. Again, nicely made but I would not want to do my summer vacation tour this way. Everybody would ask: “Let me hear it roar, let the tires burn!”
My 2.3 looks as if it was a 1.6 Diesel and I am on the Autobahn under way always with a smile!
BTW: There was a huge number of T3s in service for the NATO and several armies. Most but all ordered with the 50hp Diesel!!!
Thanks for the info Joe!
Thanks for providing all of the pages of the review. I downloaded and saved them all to read offline. Seems years ago vehicle reviews were more detailed like these, especially those from Consumer Reports.
If I one the lottery, I’d like to buy one of these with the 4 speed manual. Maybe not to drive in the winter though, from what the heating system sounds like. I’d think in colder climates there may have been aftermarket options for better heat. I realize the 1.9L engine has a lot of weight to contend with, but was still surprised to see an average of only 16.5 mpg. I had a 1985 Dodge Caravan with the 2,2L 4 cylinder and a 5 speed manual which averaged close to 20 mpg around town.
Doing the math it appears around 65 mph the engine would be doing close to 3,400 rpm, as expected given the configuration. Maybe it wasn’t too loud with the engine in back.
Steve, I too would love to have one of these. There’s a fine one in our neighbourhood that I covet.
Regarding the cabin heat, Paul had an interesting post a few months ago regarding the heat in air-cooled VWs – per the owner’s manual, which of course everyone reads exhaustively, if one cracks the window open a bit, the heat is greatly improved. I’d never heard that before, and it makes perfect sense.
Having said that, VW knew well the reputation their air-cooled vehicles had – when the New Beetle came out in the late ’90s, I was amused by one ad that said “Introducing Exciting New Features – Like Heat.”
Good on them – if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re missing at least half the fun.
#35, (may I call you #?) cool there’s a nearby Vanagon that you can see. Maybe one day the owner will want to part with it. I’ll need to find that air-cooled VW article from a few months ago re: cracking the window. Yea, I’m sure every early VW owner read about that in the manual!
Interesting how VW had the sense of humor to make light of, or make fun of for that matter – the former lack of heat. I give them credit for such an ad.
Steve, of course, and I’m reminded of one of Dave Barry’s “Ask Mr Language Person” columns from long ago:
Q: How do The Dalai Lama’s close personal friends address him in informal social situations?
A: They call him by his first name, of course. Example: ‘Hey The, quit hoggin’ all the Tater Tots fer yerself!’
We were out for an evening walk a few months ago, and saw the Vanagon people near the van. I told them that I had recently read a retro1980 review of their van in Car and Driver online, but they looked at me like I was a bit off. (So they showed good discernment, at least.) No, actually I was a bit disappointed they didn’t want to talk about the vehicle and possibly give me a tour.
I did peek inside once when it was parked on the street, and was disappointed to see it was automatic.
Back in the days of no fan assist aftermarket heaters thats exactly how you get heat crack a window an inch or so it worked in my 63 Holden for all 8 years I owned the second one including in chilly Tasmania it work work in a VW just as well.
Talking of cabin heating issues I can contribute that winter driving an air cooled VW would need some passionate operation of controls to get it comfortably heated, to say it politely. I know what I am saying as a former owner of a 1970 VW 1200. The situation is totally different when it comes to water cooled Vanagons. All of these have got sufficient and idiot proof heating systems, provided one is willing to clean the heat exchanger element from leaves and insect remains every 100 k mi.
For some small extra $$ you got an extra radiator under the rear seat, independently controlled: The rear seat pax would be able to regulate the hot water flow rate, but the driver has the control for fan rpm! I have never figured out why this, but it gives plenty of heat.
Many of these cars went to federal authorities: So VW also offered engine independent gas or diesel heaters, too, made by Eberspaecher or Webasto, clock or radio controlled. Nice to have in cold climate, but fuel efficiency is the bad point here.
Joe, the book on the gas heaters here (where we regularly experience -30 C temperatures, and very occasionally -40) was that
1) they consumed as much fuel as the engine did, and
2) they worked fine in the knee seasons, but were not effective in the dead of winter.
One my college classmates had two air-cooled VWs – an old camper, and a squareback wagon. He would plug in an interior car warmer instead of a block heater, and always had a scraper ready for the windshield.
He borrowed a friend’s Honda Accord at one point, and was amazed by the no-hassle heater.
Another friend had a ’70s VW Westphalia camper van, and would drive down to California every January for a 2-week break from the cold. They would head straight south, eating up as much road as possible, and would get to milder climes before cutting west.