VW Vanagon – A Great Choice for a VW Camper

The Volkswagen Vanagon was one of the most popular VW’s to hit the American market. Even though they were discontinued in 1993 the VW Vanagon remains one of the most popular camper vans. In this review we’ll take a look at the standard and optional features found on a Vanagon as well as the features found on the Westfalia versions. If you’re in the market for a used camper van, the VW Vanagon is a solid choice.

T3 VW Camper Features

  • Rear mounted engine
  • Very large disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in the rear
  • Air cooled from 1979 – 1982
  • Water cooled from 1983 onwards

Optional features included:

  • Power door locks
  • Power steering
  • Air conditioning (It’s worth mentioning that the  a/c available in the T3’s prior to 1986 was of the “hanging” variety which means that the portion of the a/c inside the vehicle hung from the ceiling. These systems frequently cracked and even fell down.)
  • Heated mirrors
  • Vanity mirrors with lights
  • Lit glove compartment
  • Diesel engines

Westfalia Camper Van Features
In addition to the T3 features listed above, the Westfalia conversions also sported the following:

  • Pop-top
  • Integrated kitchen including a propane stove, sink and refrigerator
  • Sleeping area and bedding

Tips for Buying a Used VW Vanagon
The T3 is a big step up from the original VW Bus. The updated interior and upgraded features make for a more relaxing and enjoyable ride. Since T3’s are so popular, finding one in good condition can be a challenge. Here are a few tips for finding a great Vanagon:

  • Look in a wide variety of places for listings. Check online sites such as Craigslist as well as VW specialty sites. Also contact camper van dealers as some take used VW Vanagon’s in on trade.
  • Decide how much work you’re willing to do in advance. If you’re willing to put in time and effort on refurbishment, you’re likely to find more Vanagon’s that will suit you. That said, there’s nothing wrong with knowing your limitations and waiting for a Vanagon in good condition to come along.
  • Have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle. A mechanic evaluation will help you determine how much work will need to be done. You can use this information to negotiate with the seller or just for your own reference.
  • Investigate ongoing costs such as insurance and maintenance before you purchase. Call several VW shops and see what typical repairs run on T3’s. Also find out from your insurance agent what you can expect to pay for insurance.

VW Vanagon’s, particularly the Westfalia models are wonderful camper vans. With a bit of perseverance you may be fortunate enough to find one that fits the bill for you and your family.