1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Reviews from North America

1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfahlia Full Camper 2.0 Aircooled

Model year1982
Year of manufacture1982
First year of ownership2005
Most recent year of ownership2006
Engine and transmission 2.0 Aircooled Manual
Performance marks 2 / 10
Reliability marks 4 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
3.8 / 10
Distance when acquired121000 miles
Most recent distance123000 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Vanagon

Summary:

Swiss Army Utility vehicle

Faults:

I purchased the van from an old friend who had to get rid of a couple of his Vanagons. It had a bad Brake Caliper so I towed it home and fixed that myself.

Soon, I realized that the sway bar links, hydraulic clutch line, gas tank seals were also bad... mainly due to age/rust. Also, a battery drain.

The vehicle didn't have much rust, considering it was a North East car but some components were either rusted or dry rotted. I purchased this as a 4th car to play around with and restore along the way. But, when the hydraulic line went, I decided to give up. I couldn't source the right part and figured spot fixing would only last until the line burst someplace else.

General Comments:

I drove Vanagons in the US Army, Berlin in the late 1980's and loved them. They are so SOLID and ergonomically efficient! I didn't say fuel efficient, however. I think I got around 15-17 mpg. Which, isn't bad for the size of vehicle but is for the trickle of power you get in exchange for the burned fuel.

Mine was just like I remembered. Only, some 17 years later, my example was 25 years old. It still a lot of the attributes I remembered but did need restoration. I recommend anyone considering one to realize this.

It ran fine around town and even did OK on the highway, reaching 65 or so and able to keep up with traffic. It's a little susceptible to crosswinds but not bad considering its shaped like a brick.

Visibility was good, although somewhat blocked with the Westy package curtains and shelving units. Better than my Jeep Commander.

My car had the camper package with the sink, stove and refrigerator. The exterior wall that these units mount to as a tendency to rust from the drains and service lines and especially the hookup plugs on the exterior of the vehicle. My car was rusted here and, from what I understand, fixing this area is not so simple but it can be done. If I were to get another Vanagon, I'd make sure this area was in good shape or just get a model without the hookups.

In the short time I owned the van, I used it to transport new windows for my home, and lots of other things. Its very useful like that. Very spacious inside and still pretty easy to drive around and park.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th April, 2008

28th Apr 2008, 11:56

Thanks for your comments about the 1982 vanagon. I am looking to buy one from a neighbor and I'm reading up about this model. Out of curiosity, how much did you pay for the van?

1982 Volkswagen Vanagon L Westfalia 2.0 Air cooled

Model year1982
Year of manufacture1982
First year of ownership2003
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission 2.0 Air cooled Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.8 / 10
Distance when acquired98000 miles
Most recent distance115000 miles
Previous carToyota 4Runner

Summary:

This is the ultimate vehicle for the tinkerer who loves to travel and play outdoors

Faults:

The cylinder head temperature sensor went out.

The Clutch Master Cylinder failed.

Padding in the back of the drivers seat (as opposed to bottom) collapsed.

General Comments:

The problems have been very inexpensive to repair.

The efficiency and comfort of the Westfalia conversion are very high.

Although the van is slow it is very comfortable and economical, averaging over 20 miles to the gallon highway.

This vehicle requires frequent care and attention such as tune-ups, fluid changes, rest stops.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th November, 2004

1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Camper 2.0 Air Cooled Gas

Year of manufacture1982
First year of ownership1982
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 2.0 Air Cooled Gas Manual
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Most recent distance336000 miles
Previous carFord Pinto

Summary:

Great handling, but very,very slow

Faults:

Ground wire for fuel injection fell off and it quit running. Dealer repaired it under warranty, but it did it again, so I purchased a maintenance/service manual for it, fixed it correctly, and never went to the dealer again. Gas tank rusted through from the top 3 times, and almost asphixeated me each time, tank is easy to change though, but should be made of plastic so that the mud and salt that collect on top of it don't rust it out. Trans-axle failed at 250000 miles and had to be replaced.

General Comments:

Sloooooow, but handles great. Incredibly tight turning radius and great big bus steering wheel make for easy city driving despite it's size. Very roomy and comfortable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd December, 2003

25th Dec 2003, 23:04

Under powered is an understatement, when I had it out on the west coast you could have substituted an on/off switch for the accelerator (on=uphill off=downhill), but it did get 20 mpg consistently and never failed me. Be forewarned, don't let this vehicle run out of gas, the fuel pump will fail and it costs over $200 dollars, but it's easy to change. It also takes a bizarre size and ply rating tire that I'm sure is easy to find in Europe, but is a real pain to find in the states.

Average review marks: 6.6 / 10, based on 4 reviews