1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia Camper w/ New 1.9L Diesel – $20k in Santa Cruz, CA

1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia Camper w/ New 1.9L Diesel - $20k in Sa

1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia Camper w/ New 1.9L Diesel – $20k in Santa Cruz, CA

Just because fuel/oil is getting a bit cheaper doesn’t mean it won’t be on it’s way back up again soon.  As an owner of a 1.9L gas 1985 Westy, I only dream of high 20 MPGs instead of my reality, high teen MPGs, so that brings us to this fresh  eBay listing I noticed this morning.  This van is a 1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia camper with a new 1.9L Diesel engine, manual transmission and a reported 84k miles.  Now these diesels do vibrate a lot more, and the seller states in the listing that “harmonic balance added”, which I’m not quite sure about, though I know there are no hydraulic motor mounts that can be used to help here.  I’m going to take a wild guess and say a freshly rebuilt AAZ (likely 1.9L engine used) would probably cost at least $8k installed at a decent shop.  The interior appears to be almost all original, with no serious mods except for the engine, a laminate floor and nice 16″ wheels. The original tent canvas looks fantastic for a 32 year old van, though I’m curious what is under the covers on the front seats. The seller states that everything is there and implies it should all work, including the sink, stove, fridge, propane tank, etc.  The oddity here is the Auto Check report, which shows a great score with no issues, however this van is a ghost, with no registration history found to verify it’s previous regions of residence, # of owners, mileage records, etc.  Maybe worth doing your own Car Fax too?  I think $20k is a little steep for an 82, however if it’s only had one owner, has – rust, runs and drives great, doesn’t leak, etc, someone in this region will likely pay $18k-$20k for it.  Find it for sale on eBay in Santa Cruz, California with a ‘make offer’ option available. eBay Link – Craigslist Link

Notes for potential buyers: Find out where the engine swap was done, get details, costs, etc.  Make sure to check the undercarridge for rust.  The body looks great in the pictures, but this van could have been a Santa Cruz resident to date, lots of salt on the air/roads there.

Notes for the seller: If you’re selling a rig like this with a fresh engine swap, provide the details.  Who did it? How much did it cost? What is the actual engine code? This looks like a standard VW AAZ, though not sure. Also, why is the vehicle history not available? Are you the original owner?  What does the under carriage look like?

  1. I own a mint condition 1982 Vanagon Westfalia diesel with 66K miles. Everything is in perfect working order. The sink pump, faucet, refrigerator (works on all three power sources), click lights are all perfect. The seats, cushions, top and windshield are all original and in great shape. I rebuilt the 1.6 liter engine with the best pistons. I had the diesel pump and injectors rebuilt as well. I could’ve easily changed engines in her but why molest something that was built with so much thought in mind?
    I owned a 1979 Westy and it had a fuel injected water cooled gasoline engine. It wasn’t much faster than my diesel which is getting 28 mpg.
    Go ahead and dog it out; meanwhile, I’ll be using my van and you won’t.

  2. Any idea what kind of work they’ve had to put into that cute orange diesel? I’m trying to gauge if a lower priced diesel is worth considering over a minimum 85 model. Or just as much maintenance and repair with less get up and go. 🙂

    • I think at that point it all depends on the actual prospects. If you live in California, buying an old diesel with plans to rebuild/replace the engine later on means that if you’re careful, you can likely put in any gas engine you want, since the van is titled as a diesel, you won’t need to smog it.

  3. What do you think the value of one of these, good tires, new canvas top, no to little rust, with a recently rebuilt orig 1.6 liter with a pretty okay interior should be valued at?

    • The average would be $8k – $15k depending on region, title, mileage, suspension, year, kitchen status. Some friends of my mine got this van a while back and it’s awesome, though it has the 1.6 L Turbo diesel from the Quantam.

      • How has the Vanagon Diesel treated them? I am curious. I hear the rebuilds are fairly inexpensive, but not necessarily any less frequent than the needs of a well maintained WBX engine.

        • They’ve had to put some money into it, but I don’t think more than $1k at this point. The biggest issues was that they had never driven another diesel vanagon until that one, turns out the turbo wasn’t even hooked up properly. They also had to put new tires on it.

  4. I have to be honest. The diesel is a serious “niche”. Even the 1.9 is dangerously slow. Like no better, and a little worse than the air cooled 0-82 level of slow.

    Only way to make these worth it is if you are guaranteed to never hit a hill of any consequence, and it is under 10k in fab shape, like really excellent running condition and no rust at all.

    Under 50 hp on the 1.6 liter and and 3k lbs.. SCARY. The 1.9 is slightly better, but still frighteningly slow.

    Recently a 50k origmile diesel Westy in SD CA sold for 9k. I was looking at it, but I knew realistically that it would be a miserable ownership.

    Plus they have no PS and that cheap plastic like wall covering with the awful stick shift that plagued the 80-82.


    • I agree on the stick shift for sure. The 1.6 NA Diesel is, well…. But a fresh 1.9 NA Diesel is just enough better that I would be ok with it, but I have a stock 1.9L gas for reference. If you’re not in a hurry, or don’t live in big city, then maybe the 1.9L Diesel is ok. But yeah, starting to get niche.

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