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LaFille1 09-29-2018 01:02 PM

Considering in buying a VW EuroVan Camper...
Hello everyone!

I’ve been considering getting one of those “EuroVan camper built by VW? Have been looking around quite a few: online mostly, local and outside my own neck of the woods (NorCal) Now, it comes my question; most I’ve seen are well over 100k miles, and asking for an outrageous amount of money!

I am not looking to get a brand new, since by looking at used ones I’ve gotten pretty discouraged already. Does anyone have any idea why these kind of van are sooo expensive even the pretty oldie ones? And, are they worth to even thinking about getting one? :u

Thank you!


Mike Magee 09-29-2018 10:35 PM

They have a cult following. Fans are enamored with the cutesy look and VW cachet, and willingly pay extra.

Dave Fish 09-29-2018 11:00 PM


Originally Posted by Mike Magee (Post 718552)
They have a cult following. Fans are enamored with the cutesy look and VW cachet, and willingly pay extra.

Also supply and demand. My neighbor rebuilds them and gets a good price for them. He usually is working on a half dozen. He no longer works on the older air-cooled ones.

John in Santa Cruz 09-30-2018 03:12 AM

mmm. Everyone I've known with a Eurovan (T4) has had expensive problems with all sorts of aspects of the vehicle.

the T4 Eurovans have a LOT of technical issues, they are completely different than the older rear engine rear wheel drive VW vans, T1-T3... T4 is FWD using a audi/vw transverse engine/transaxle package. the couple US model Eurovans I test drove new had an odd choice of way too sporty suspension, with the powerful but fuel guzzling VR6 2.8L engine and a 5 spd stick shift.

the T4 campers are Winnebago not Westfalia.

my son has a older Westfalia Vanagon (T3) camper, he just put a new motor in and got running again, after he seized the old motor after we spent a $1000+ getting the fuel injection working right. he's selling it ASAP with the new motor. we also helped him buy a suspension upgrade to bigger wheels and fox shocks when he first got it... its surprisingly good at bouncing around dirt roads.

note, this van has a 'Tiico' conversion engine, which is a 2.0L VW/Audio inline 4, with the vanagon diesel oil pan and engine mounts. its got an odd VW non-crossflow head which was only used on one audi model back when, but if you get it all setup right, its california smogable, and it does pull the vanagon pretty darn strong, even through the stock 4-speed gearbox.

CindyL 09-30-2018 05:09 AM

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We had 2 Eurovans. They have a lot of storage space and we loved them, but we switched out to a Ford Expedition. Here is why:

Eurovan number 2: For 2 years in a row, and likely due to incompetent VW repairmen the first time, we had to have the gas tank replaced, an extremely expensive repair. Some sensor inside the tank blew, and because there was no way to get at it, the tank had to be replaced. It had to be ordered from Europe with a multiple week delay.

Eurovan number 1: We were towing our Uhaul VT among the WV mountains and the fans at the front shattered at the top of a mountain. Luckily, there was a roadside station there who recommended a tow person. He, in turn, recommended a place to be towed that was a car repair and vacation place along the Hatfield-McCoy ATV trail, all run by the same family. The car repair guy did not want to touch the Eurovan, but offered any of his tools to do it ourselves. While we stayed in their vacation cabin, I searched the Internet and found a way to repair the fans on a European forum. His mother, who was his parts person, found us a fan, loaned us her car, and Kevin replaced one fan, so we were able to get back home. Kevin replaced the second fan later. Still later the transmission went out on this one, a common problem with Eurovans, so we got the second one rather than trying to repair the first one.

After the second Eurovan's gas tank was repaired the second time and given our experience with the breakdown of the first Eurovan, I was nervous enough to insist on a different tow vehicle that might be easier and hopefully cheaper to repair. We now have the Ford Expedition. Buying that allowed us to buy the Bigfoot Silver Cloud.

We miss the storage space of our Eurovan, but not the fear of breaking down where repair folks don't know how to repair them nor the difficulty in finding parts for them the are very expensive.

If you do get one, I might recommend something I did. I bought some parts off German ebay. Their ebay pages are the same as ours, so even if you don't speak German (and most of them speak some English), you can figure out what the commands mean and order parts from there if they will ship here. I was able to replace a broken arm from one of the front chairs and replace a missing back shelf using German ebay. They are called Caravelles there when searching.


John in Santa Cruz 09-30-2018 05:23 AM

here in the US of A, you'd be much better off with something like an Sportsmobile built from a Ford or Dodge van. I also would seriously avoid any Mercedes Sprinter of the Bluetec generation, although the pre-Bluetec 5-cyl diesels are quite robust albeit underpowered.

If you do get a used Ford van, try and avoid the 6.0 and 6.4L Ford Powerstroke diesels, these are both very prone to expensive problems. The pre-2003 Ford 7.3 diesels OTOH are very reliable, althought he 4R100 automatic transmission can be a weak spot...... I've heard the new Ford 6.7's are good too, but they are seriously expensive.

The Ford gas V8s are generally quite reliable but get lousy gas mileage.

trainman 09-30-2018 06:31 AM

Your idea is a good one for those who want a van type of vehicle, for me not so good the way we like to camp. As the cost of these VW's are going to be high and most likely need repairs just because of age and condition I would look into one of today's van type vehicles on the market today. There are many in all shapes and sizes to choose from, but you would have to do the interior and where it might be easy for some, others may not be able to do it.


Jon in AZ 09-30-2018 07:36 AM

Personally, I prefer a towable RV. It allows me to update the vehicle as needed for safe and reliable motive power without having to buy a whole new camper. Molded fiberglass trailers in particular can outlast multiple tow vehicles. I also like being able to make a grocery run or day trip without breaking camp.

The pop-top VW's are compact and clever. But there's no way I'd commit to maintaining one. And frankly, in this age of distracted driving, the safety aspect concerns me. John, the Sportsmobiles with pop-tops are nice, but hard to find and pricey used.

Tom 72 09-30-2018 08:30 AM

I owned a 1985 VW Westfalia, T3 I guess. Wonderful memories, with relatives that are gone. One of my strongest memories was that it handled like an outboard motor boat, dipping bobbing and weaving. I my be exagerating slightly, and I suspect new VWs have much tighter suspensions.

I now own a pre 2007 Sprinter with a 2.7 liter 5 cyl. diesel. Bought new, it has very low 42,000 miles. VW produced a van in Europe sharing the Sprinter body. Favorite features: High top; I can get 25 mpg if I drive gently; & with turbo, it will accelerate climbing I-70 west out of Denver. I find power very adequate, some may not. It has dramatically more power than the Vanagon, & drives, handles and parks like a car/SUV. It is quiet, clean and starts on very cold days. I would do considerable reasearch before buying some new diesels. I am drawn to the Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon twin with diesels. I prefer the diesels around 3 liters. Some don't, choice is good.

Behind the driver's seat, tall vans about equal the space in a Scamp 13. Include rotating seats and you add 2-3 feet. Extended vans add nearly another 3 feet.

If a tall van suits you, there are also Dodges & Fords. It appears Chevy has a new tall van for 2019. Nissan is a possibility.

PS, I carry a RAD eBike for local day trips.

Gordon in Idaho 09-30-2018 09:54 AM

I had a '79 westy almost identical to this one:
On the positive side, it handled mountain roads really well, and being able to look down at the road right in front of you was a real advantage on blind switch-backs and dodging pot holes and rocks. And, I could park it almost anywhere.
On the negative side, it needed a LOT of attention. Living with an old air-cooled VW was kind of a Zen thing, I guess. Also, I'd always heard that they were dangerous in a head-on crash. Unfortunately, I proved that true in totaling the bus and nearly totaling myself.

Sprinter vans and the like seem to be really growing in popularity, especially with young professionals. They're everywhere.

Happy Hunting!

LaFille1 09-30-2018 10:25 AM

To all of you out there who shared their thoughts/ ideas with my own thoughts/ideas...from the bottom of my heart; thank you so much for taking the time to share your great, and not so great past camping adventures.

...and after reading each and every one of them, I’ve made my mind, I will definitely stay away from buying a EuroVan, or anything German-made.

To all of you happy trails!

—“If you can remember why you started, then you will know
why you most continue”. —Chris Burkmenn

Wayne Collins 09-30-2018 12:31 PM

Eurovan or Vanagon
We were long time VW van people, had 6 of them, beginning with a 1969 camper van. Our last one was a 1991 Vanagon. All rear engine. the last 3 water cooled.
When VW went to the Front Engine Front Wheel Drive EUROVAN It was the end of an era. From what others have said about the poor reliability, I guess we made the right decision.
Winnebego Industries was using a Eurovan chassis to build their Rialta camper vans. A very nice low and wide unit. But… expensive.

CindyL 09-30-2018 01:17 PM


Originally Posted by LaFille1 (Post 718600)
To all of you out there who shared their thoughts/ ideas with my own thoughts/ideas...from the bottom of my heart; thank you so much for taking the time to share your great, and not so great past camping adventures.

...and after reading each and every one of them, I’ve made my mind, I will definitely stay away from buying a EuroVan, or anything German-made.

To all of you happy trails!

—“If you can remember why you started, then you will know
why you most continue”. —Chris Burkmenn

Probably a wise choice. We are not anti-VW. I own a VW convertible, and we have a '69 VW Beetle and go to VW shows, but we don't camp in either of these, so they are generally within a distance from people who can repair these (hopefully better than the repairman did for our second Eurovan).


John in Santa Cruz 09-30-2018 01:37 PM

Hey, I didn't mean to sound like I was knocking the T3 aka "Vanagon"... those were much more reliable than the later T4 Eurovans, my son put a bajillion adventure miles on his T3, the motor died due to a bad oil pump and he hadn't gotten around to sort out some previous-owner-botched wiring in the dash board, so the idiot lights were unreliable, so they got ignored. With the offroad suspension upgrade (from GoWesty), it handled really good on 15" wheels with BF Goodrich KO tires. If it was a 'synchro' (4x4) and had some towing capabilties, he'd still be driving it, but he's moved on to 4x4 diesel trucks and his current camper is a former ambulance.

redbarron55 09-30-2018 03:34 PM

Don't buy a VW unless you can work on it yourself, just my opinion.
If you od get one and can work on it yourself spend the money and get the VAGCOM diagnostic cable so you can read the error codes from the proprietary VW computer.

ZachO 09-30-2018 04:10 PM

I think that to talk honestly about VW is to talk about problems. It's not knocking them at all. People who love them the most will tell you all the problems they have. To love a VW is to know that it's a labor of love.

My first year of college I met a group who had an old VW bus, all painted up (including in large letters on the sliding door "we've come for your daughters"). It was so much fun to travel around the west in that thing. Including 4 or 5 of us outside pushing it most mornings so he could pop the clutch. If possible, he always parked facing down a hill. Sometimes it would stall at stoplights and we'd all get out and push.

It's just the way they are, especially the old ones. They got better over the years but even the Eurovans have a lot of little issues you're always dealing with.

Owning a VW reminds me of a documentary I watched about people who built custom motorcycles. Not the street-rod type, just cool custom bikes. Being builders, obviously a lot of them also really appreciated a lot of different old manufactured bikes.

One of the segments was, I think, in Spain. One of the guys in a group was talking about the fun and adventure and romance of taking trips on old bikes. He said something along the lines of "sure, you could buy a BMW and take a road trip, and you know you're going to get there. What fun is that? With these bikes, there's a good chance you'll need to make a repair on the road, and you'll have to pull into some town and get to know the local shop and spend time". That's kind of the attitude you need to have with a VW. It's not knocking them, it's just honest.

redbarron55 09-30-2018 05:39 PM

If you want a mechanical adventure shun the reliability of the VW and German cars and go straight to old Alfa Romeos and perhaps a step up to Fiats.
Wonderful to drive to the point where they quit. I am not talking about a long romance, but rather an attempted trip across town.
That being said to show you my level of masochism, I owned several in my youth and attribute my skill in fixing things directly to working to get back home in my Alfas

Mike_L 09-30-2018 06:04 PM

I don't know much about the newer ones but did have several rear engine, rear wheel drive Westies. Not a lot of power but good on fuel and dependable. Ran forever.

Glenn Baglo 09-30-2018 06:09 PM

Had a VW bus and haven't missed it.
I had no mechanical problems, but driving it in rush hour traffic was painful. It had a manual transmission and the clutch had to be pressed straight down into the floor, not forward to the firewall.

Always wondering if ( or when ) the gasoline heater was going to explode.
Traded it in on a Fiat 128 Sport Coupe. Pain moved from my leg to my wallet.

John in Santa Cruz 09-30-2018 06:29 PM

I drove this through a good part of the 70s...

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