1990 VW Vanagon Syncro Adventure Wagon – $19k in San Rafael, CA

1990 VW Vanagon Syncro Adventure Wagon - $19k in San Rafael, CA

1990 VW Vanagon Syncro Adventure Wagon – $19k in San Rafael, CA

Updated 4/22/15See comments below post.

Strikingly similar to this syncro I wrote about a while back in the same region, this one looks like a sweet deal sans some rust and dings.  Posted on The Samba yesterday is this 1990 VW Vanagon Syncro Adventure Wagon high top with likely stock 2.1L engine, stock manual transmission (4+low) and a low 123k miles.  The seller doesn’t state many specifics, though they do claim it features a propane or gas heater and 2 extra house batteries with a solar panel set up, along with a new bosch starter.  The pictures do show some rust that was attended to, and it may also come with a full length awning. No VIN or additional mechanical details were provided, though it does appear to have a rear locker knob on the dash, and the interior looks to be in good shape as well.  If the mileage is accurate, the syncro all wheel drive works, the locker works, it doesn’t leak or get to hot, this rig will sell very soon, if it hasn’t already.  Find it listed for sale on The Samba Classifieds in San Rafael, California with an asking price of $19,000. The Samba Link

One thing I like about this Adventure Wagon is the insulated high top roof + propane/gas heater.  While a standard pop top Westy can sleep 4 with the roof up, there’s no way to keep the upstairs warm, and a popped Westy draws significant attention of you’re trying to stealth camp.  With this rig, you can sleep 4, in sub zero temps, and not be as conspicuous as there’s no roof to pop, it’s already up!  These are a great alternative to Syncro Pop Top Westys mainly due to price, as for whatever reason Adventure Wagon Syncros are usually about 20%-30% easier on the wallet.

Some things I would check out.  Definitely get the VIN and do a title check on CarFax or similar to confirm mileage and title status are accurate.  Get a good look at the drivers side exterior, and the undercarriage,  as there are no pictures of these.  Take it for spin, do some sharp turns in water or slick surfaces to see if the syncro works or makes any weird noises.

Got any thoughts to share? Have you seen this Westy? Going to check it out? Feel like bantering? Leave your comments below or head on over to the individual posts about this van on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+.  The Samba Link

  1. I saw this van yesterday and it had been inspected independently at the BusLab over in Berkley. The good: the interior needs some TLC but it’s all there. The conversion includes 2 cell batteries that power heat, fridge, water. The stove is tatty but functional. The problem that I have with these rigs is the lack of storage space (and this one has no exception). The downstairs bed takes up all the trunk space. The upstairs is significantly lower than a pop top, and ends up being used (as in this case) for storage. If you’re at all claustrophobic, sleeping up there won’t work. It’s got some issues that are annotated in the inspection report. The major problem here is that the Synchro (2nd – 1st gear) does not work. The exhaust / muffler is noted as being “wrong(change it out for $$). The tie rod ends, CV joints, CV boots are shot, and so the whole front suspension really needs going through immediately ($$). There are some “leaks” noted in the engine bay (not explained). It has some damage at the rear end, and some patch work throughout the body. Amazingly, it still sits on 14 inch wheels – and those just don’t cut it (in my opinion). I’d get it on 16’s as soon as poss with some good high wall tires ($1,500). This rig weighs 5500lbs! It’s slow, (all that internal wood in the conversion and the insulated top / heavy AC unit over the Cab) all weighs alot. I’d want to Subaru this thing immediately – another $10,000, just to heave all that weight around.
    All in all – I think that the synchro issue is a deal killer unless it could be fixed for less than about $2,000 (Is that possible?).

    • Thanks for the heads up Chris! Yeah, sounds like it would need an unknown amount of work to get it up to reasonable working, shifting, driving, non-leaking condition. I agree on the weight and the wheels for sure. I’d say at least $5k for a superior transmission, clutch overhaul, not to mention what may or may not be wrong the the AWD and rear locker. However, if the title is clean, it’s rust free and you can get it for $15k, that would likely be a steal.

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