1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia from North America - Comments

25th Dec 2003, 23:12

Clutch cable? I thought they had hydraulic clutches, maybe only the diesel had it, I wish my gas air cooled Vanagon had a cable operated clutch, I've had to change the slave cylinder three times and all the weird sized hydraulic lines because they rusted through. A word to the wise, don't drive your Vanagon in the winter, the road salt will kill it.

18th Feb 2004, 16:48

I have a '90 Westfalia full camper, with 109,000 miles. I service and take care of the vehicle, and it will get 20-22+ MPG on average country road driving 45-65 MPH. I drive the unit on vacation trips when I am not in the hurry - enjoying the scenery. The only one thing will destroy your engine if you push high speeds!! This vehicle can go 215,000 miles if you drive no faster than 70 MPH. May be I am lucky, but so far I had no problems. I agree, it is the best utility vehicle if you are not in the hurry.

28th May 2008, 15:57

I'm the guy who put up the original post, and to this day (May 2008) I STILL have my Westy (its been 9 years now)! Thanks for the corrections, there's no clutch cable, it was hydraulic; I also just had a fuel line that was not securely attached, so I would leak gas; Another correction is I could use regular unleaded (87 octane), I got the "91" from looking at my owner's manual, which was the German equivalent of 87 unleaded, basically. Awesome van, I intend to keep it as long as possible.. If the engine dies, I'll upgrade to a Subaru 2.2 liter boxer engine and convert it to water-cooled! For those that never had the experience of a 2.2 (Legacy) or 3.3 liter(SVX) Subaru-powered Westfalia Vanagon, THAT is the way to go. From a true, die-hard Vanagon owner...

6th Feb 2009, 11:22

Greetings from Portland,

We have 3 VW’s, including a 1982 Westfalia Camper. Up and down the West coast from Portland to Las Vegas, and side trips to Boise and Salt Lake we usually get at least 18 miles to the gallon and closer to 20 on an average. And yes, we do take the grades at 40mph, but it is the journey and not the destination, right? We could go faster in our 84 Wolfsburg Vanagon, or even faster in the 1996 Jetta Trek, but pulling off and camping is such a breeze when you just have to pop the top!

12th Feb 2009, 21:42

I have a 1982 Westfalia and love it. Yes it is a little slow on acceleration, but it will easily do 60-65 mph, but I prefer to keep it closer to 55 to conserve gas.

But my solution for a power upgrade in the future will be a TYPE 4 Jake Raby camper special engine, which will bump the HP above 90 and increase the torque. This keeps it air-cooled and will cost less than doing a conversion.

Otherwise these vehicles are great and I love the simplicity of the air cooled engine.

17th Apr 2009, 13:35

I restored my 1980 Westy with the air-cooled, 2.0L (67HP) engine 6 years ago. Mine has the added inconvenience of having the fuel injection unit swapped-out for a 2bbl Weber set-up at some point prior to when I found it. Other than a couple standard mods, it is completely stock including CA spec exhaust. I take it on a 1500 mile (round-trip) drive from my home in New Jersey to a small town in Maine every year. Two of us, each with luggage and lots of 'stuff' still average 18-20MPG running at 65MPH depending on weather/traffic. Not so fun on the big highways where the current trend is to run monuments to modern excess SUV's at 80-85+MPH, but on the two-laners, a soulful and very satisfying ride. Mine has over 215,000 miles, original engine that I only rebuilt once (added solid lifters, oil cooler/filter) - I never tire of hearing it's 'small-but-fierce' engine notes and really wouldn't change much. SMM.

16th Jun 2009, 01:00

I have owned my 1984 VW Vanagon Country Homes Camper for the last year and absolutely love it. I wish I bought one sooner! It has the original manual tranny and 1.9 fuel injected engine. True, it is underpowered on hills or big climbs, but average highway driving is no problem at all. My average Mpg are between 18-21 between highway and town. Over all, for a 25 year old vehicle, I have had little problems with it and it has not left me stranded. If you like to go on trips and don't mind taking your time, the Vanagon is a good van. Parts are still easy to find, but mechanics who know the Vanagon are few and far between. If you get one, be prepared to learn your own basic maintenance.

13th Aug 2009, 20:37

I just bought an 82 Vanagon, I love it, but the only thing is a strong smell of gas, making it unbearable to drive or sleep in. Any ideas of what's going on?

Also, any ideas on how many years you should go before replacing the gas lines?

3rd Sep 2009, 15:31

Regarding the gas odor, we had that with our 87 Wesphalia. It was pinhole leaks in the gas tank right under our noses. Had to have the tank drained and resealed in Montana. I've heard it's relatively common with Westies. Wayne.

27th Jul 2010, 22:26

I just recently purchased a 1982 Vanagon Camper because I missed the days of yore in my old 1979 bus camper. The Vanagon is definitely more gutless! But it more than makes up for its lack of power in the roominess and ride departments. I have also owned a diesel Vanagon. It was the most gutless pathetic contraption I have ever owned! One was lucky to achieve 60 MPH with a tailwind and it rattled its exhaust system apart several times.

1st Mar 2011, 23:49

Is there anyone that can give comments on what a TDI in a Vanagon would deliver in real time i.e. MPH, or real time speed? Problems that pop up after the swap?

3rd Mar 2011, 06:55

Check on the Internet, I believe there is a site devoted to putting TDI's into the vans.

However, can't agree with your comment about the best van ever made. Hardly, it did the job. But just barely compares to the standard US vans of the day.

27th Aug 2011, 15:24

I have an 82 Westfalia Camper that gets between 9 and 11 mpg. Very underpowered, but runs well. I am currently building a 164 ci (2.6L) 110hp Corvair air cooled engine to put in the van. Will go in with the Corvair Powerglide auto transmission.

I have the axle adapters and the transmission mount adapter. Will have to fabricate a rear mount.

4th Sep 2011, 01:38

I just purchased a 1982 Westphalia that the engine caught on fire, and I love this Westphalia. Can you provide me with pictures of the engine to see what parts I need in order to get it running?

Thanks.

13th Jul 2012, 14:32

Hi, just discovered this thread. I'm the owner of an 83 air cooled Vanagon Westfalia, and had the engine rebuilt when I bought it a few years back. I love the van, but it is definitely underpowered. Would love to hear more about your Corvair engine conversion. Have you done it and how is it going? I once owned a Corvair Greenbrier camper, and drove it across the country and back.

Thanks for your response. Jim Haskins.

3rd Sep 2012, 17:00

I'm really interested in learning more about the VW Westfilia vans. I live in Central Maine, and am interested in finding one close by... Any luck??? Where do I start?? I went onto the Autocar site and found one in Calif. If you have any ideas, let me know...

4th Sep 2012, 16:32

Well, try spelling it right first: Westfalia, not "Westfilia"; then look on cars.com or autotrader.com for ones available in your area.

That was easy.

7th Jul 2014, 19:20

I had the same problem with my 87 Vanagon. These buses have a gas fumes recycling system, and a couple of plastic tanks that go just over the front wheels. The problem is that the fuel/fumes lines get cracked over the years, and then you can smell it from the inside.

You can simple cancel both tanks and seal the lines.

Hope this works for you.

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