1988 Volkswagen Vanagon Reviews from North America

1988 Volkswagen Vanagon Wolfsburg Subaru 2.1

Model year1988
Year of manufacture1988
First year of ownership2000
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission Subaru 2.1 Manual
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 3 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.4 / 10
Distance when acquired75000 miles
Most recent distance242000 miles
Previous carVolkswagen EuroVan


Great traveling and camping van


Replaced head gasket several times.

Repaired/replaced A/C several times.

Rebuilt transmission at 100,000 miles; some adjustments since.

Replaced wheel bearings at 150,000 miles.

Replaced engine with Subaru engine at 200,000 miles.

Custom muffler at 200,000 miles.

Repaired sliding door "railing" 240,000 miles.

General Comments:

Wonderful people mover.

Bed and pop-up table are GREAT for camping.

Van is a bit noisy due to window noise (rubber needs replacing) ; otherwise, no rattles or noises - after 21 years and 242,000 miles!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th May, 2009

1988 Volkswagen Vanagon GL 2.1

Year of manufacture1988
First year of ownership2002
Most recent year of ownership2002
Engine and transmission 2.1 Automatic
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 acquired154000 miles
Most recent distance185000 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Vanagon


In for life...


Nothing, but I did buy the car with a fried engine.

General Comments:

This is my 4th Vanagon (I still have the 2nd) and I love it more than my previous three. I've been upgrading to newer and nicer models whenever I get the chance. This one is a '88 with all the options: power windows, mirrors, door locks, steering, club seating, mag wheels, wide moulding on the sides, and the ground effects bumpers.

She's a joy to drive. With the fresh engine I can easily pull hills and even surprise a few people off the line. Extremely comfortable seats, lots of legroom and storage make long drives a pleasure for everyone. The ground effects and slight lowering of this model have done wonders for its drive-ability in high wind situations.

A year or two in this model and I'll start looking for a 1991...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th October, 2002

7th Sep 2004, 13:31

How are you at getting up hill in your 88 Vanagon?

I have an 87, and it does well, but bought an 89, and it is slow going up hills. I can't figure it out.

Email weatherbill@comcast.net

8th Jun 2009, 20:11

Has anyone ever figured out the fuel economy (mpg) of these things? I kind of inherited a i988 Westphalia, original almost mint condition 4 speed with a 2.1 L motor and standard transmission. I was told that it was originally made for the German army, but when funding ran out it was sent to Kohner Westphalia werkes to be made into a camper, and I have to admit it seems to have a stouter stance than others I have seen in this area.

I was thinking of taking it on some long distance trips, but with a very small tank I can't seem to be able to drive more than 3 hours without having to re-fuel. I really like this vehicle and the fact that it was never driven in the winter makes it even more of a conversation piece. Appreciate any info.

Average review marks: 7.6 / 10, based on 2 reviews