Camper Van Research Sustainable Free Housing

The following write-up is designed to clarify the years and terminology associated with Volkswagen Campers from 1968-2003. Included are some basic descriptions of their body styles, interior layout, power plants, and when VW made major changes. This is meant to be a helpful guide. It may contain minor errors and we may add or delete portions of it's text at any time.

68-79: Bus

80-91: Vanagon

92-03: Eurovan


1968-1979 VW campers were the Type 2 Bus: These models were also referred to as the "Bay Window Bus," or “Bread-Loaf Bus," or simply “VW Bus” Westfalia campers. A nice used example will run between $2500 and $4500. A totally restored one can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000. As compared to the Vanagon and Eurovan, the Bus camper is agruably the most charming camp of models. However, as you will read further on, it is by far the most antiquated and impractical of models. Compared to the Vanagon and Eurovan models, it is really just a vintage curiosity. Cool yes, practical no.

1968-1971: These are VW Buses fitted with a 1600cc VW "upright" type 1 engine. Year models 1968-1970 were basically the same. The 1971 is special because it has a "dual port" engine (about a whopping 58 hp instead of about 50 hp), and front power assisted disc brakes. You can spot this year right off the bat because they have the more common narrow 112mm bolt-pattern road wheel used all the way through 1991, that uses the more mdern, flatter hub cap. The earlier Buses (1970 and older) have the old VW wide-pattern 5-bolt wheel that accepts the taller, "baby moon" style hub cap. Other than that, and the shape of the side markers (round on earlier models, wrectangular on later models) they look pretty much the same as the 68-71.

1972-1979: You can spot a 1972 and newer Bus easily by the larger, tall narrow tail lights, as opposed to the small oval-like tail lights used from about 1960 to 1971. These years are fitted with the VW "pancake" type 4 engine. These Buses are commonly referred to as the "Porsche-powered" Bus because it has the same engine that was used in the Porsche 914 from 1970-1976. However, the truth is that the 914 Porsche was VW powered, not the other way around. Funny how rumors get started.... The 1972 and 1973 models were 1700cc with dual carburetors, the 1974 was 1800cc with dual carbs, the 1975 was 1800cc with "EFI" (Electronic Fuel Injection), and the 1976-1979 were 2000cc EFI's. The pop-top on the Bus Westy changed in 1974 from a front-tipping roof to a rear-flipping roof (like all Vanagon Westy’s have). As a rule of thumb, the newest Bus Westy is the best. The 1979 model is the best one. It is the only Bus that came with electronic fuel injection with Lambda (oxygen sensor) controlled mixture, electronic ignition, and hydraulic valves all in the same vehicle (California models only).


1980-1991 VW campers were Vanagon Westfalia campers. The interior layout in the Vanagon camper, unlike the VW Bus, which changed many times, stayed essentially the same throughout the years. The cabinets of the earliest Vanagon Westy’s were fake wood-grain, the seats were a funky striped design, and all the wall and ceiling covering was a thin contact paper-like material that would fall off. Around 1984 the cabinet finish changed to a soft tan color, the fabric changed to a more subdued and extremely durable tan fabric, and the funky and unreliable contact paper was replaced with a much more attractive and durable material. This interior scheme stayed in effect through 1986 and in 1987 the interior color changed to gray and remained a very high quality. All 87-91 camper interiors are almost identical. In 1989 the closet door was shortened so it could be open with the rear table in the stowed position. In 1990 the refrigerator was changed to an electric start type, but that’s about it. In 1985, 1986, and 1987 there was a special Westfalia Wolfsburg Weekender offered. These models have the same pop-top as the full camper, but instead of the frig/stove/sink assembly, it has a flip-up table instead and one rear-facing seat behind the driver. A very similar set-up was offered again in 1990 and 1991 and was called the Westfalia Multi-Van (later offered on the Eurovan platform as well). The inside set-up of the MV model was almost identical to the Wolfsburg Weekender, except it had two rear-facing seats behind each of the front seats, both of which were quick-release for easy removal. The 90/91 Multi-Vans (or “MV’s) are essentially a Carat seven-passenger Vanagon model with the Westfalia pop-top, and are probably most sought-after and valuable two wheel drive Vanagons ever made. Whereas the appearance of the Vanagon changed very little over the 12 years it was offered, mechanically they changed profoundly:

1980-1983: The Vanagon was introduced in 1980 with the same 2000cc EFI engine that was used in the last of the Buses. These air cooled Vanagons, although a great improvement over their Bus predecessors, are the worst of the Vanagons. The 2000cc air cooled engine was simply not up to the task of pushing around an even bigger, heavier box. Typical engine life is about 90,000 miles. Additionally, the first stab at the 4-speed shifter system was a complete failure and was totally re-designed with the introduction of the gasoline water-cooled model in late 1983. A good example of one of these Westy’s will run between $5000 and $7500

1982-1983 Diesel-powered Vanagon: VW offered the Vanagon with the VW Rabbit water-cooled diesel engine for two (thank god) short years. Now, we at GoWesty love diesel-powered vehicles don’t get me wrong. I own four diesel-powered vehicles, three of them VW’s. However, what the hell was VW thinking when they put a 48hp 1600cc non-turbo diesel engine into this vehicle? It is simply amazing. We have converted six of these vehicles to the larger, stouter 1900cc turbo-diesel power plant with great success. They are strong running, and produce about 30% better fuel economy than a typical gasoline powered Vanagon. However, these vehicles have many of the shortcomings of all the older Vanagons (the shifter system for example), and the cost and trouble of converting one of these to the newer turbo diesel power plant is formidable. A nice Diesel westy with a 1.9 turbo engine will run between $15,000 and $25,000

1983-1985: The Vanagon was introduced in year model 1983 with a water-cooled “Wasserboxer” or “Waterboxer” (for all of us English-speaking folk) engine in North America. These first water boxer engines were 1900cc and had “Digijet” EFI. The basic design of the Waterboxer is solid. It was the culmination of some 40 years of experience VW had with the horizontally opposed, four-cylinder engine design. The Waterboxer is basically made in the same external dimensions as a VW Type 1 engine, with the internal displacement and main bearing design of the Type 4 engine, and water (instead of air) cooled. The first Waterboxer Vanagons had many problems with the cooling system. First of all, VW didn't realize until about two years into production that there was a problem with the phosphate in the coolant they were using. The wrong coolant formula caused the cylinder heads to corrode rapidly at the area where the water-jacket rubber seal (often incorrectly referred to as the “head gasket”) and cylinder head come into contact. Most engines were leaking coolant within the first couple of years, or about 40,000 miles. This stigma has plagued the Waterboxer design ever since, even though the problem was essentially solved early on. With care given to using a non-phosphate coolant, and regular 2-year flushing of the system, there is absolutely no problem whatsoever. We have seen Waterboxer Vanagons with up to 290,000 miles come into our shop completely original, the engines never having been disassembled. The rest of the problems with the cooling system were solved with the introduction of the 1986 2100cc Vanagon. You can pick up a good used 83-85 Westy for between $5000 and $10,000.

1986-1991: These are the best of the Vanagons. They are easily identified by their rectangular (instead of round) headlights. The ‘86 and ‘87’s had smaller steel bumpers, the ‘88-‘91’s had larger fiberglass bumpers and an added ventilation duct at the rear of each of the rear side windows. Many people think that these Vanagons were better because of the increase in displacement from 1900cc to 2100cc, but in fact this was the least important change. Indeed, the two engines are essentially identical in construction and design, with the exception of a longer stroke crankshaft (74mm instead of 69mm, increasing displacement to 2110cc instead of 1915cc), and an improved #1 main bearing design. The more important changes were: Improved exhaust, ignition, fuel injection (Digifant), brakes, and (most importantly) COOLING systems. The cooling system was COMPLETELY re-worked for 1986 and stayed basically unchanged through the end of 1991 production. The new cooling system had fewer parts, and was much easier to bleed and maintain than the earlier system. Furthermore, the newer engine case with the better #1 main bearing design was also slightly bigger inside enabling the displacement to be increased even further than 2110cc. As a rule of thumb, I tell folks to stay away from Vanagons with round headlights. The price difference between a clean 1985 camper and a 1986 camper is usually small, whereas the later is a much better vehicle indeed. Nice ‘86-‘87 Westy’s run about $12-18k, ‘88-‘89’s run about $14-20k, and ‘90-‘91’s run about $16-24k

1986-1991 Syncro (4WD) Vanagon: VW offered the Vanagon in a full time all wheel drive version called the Syncro. It was offered in passenger van, Weekender, and Camper versions (but not the in MV). These models all command a much higher price tag. These all wheel drive Vanagons are way cool, but way expensive not only to purchase, but to maintain as well. They cost $5,000 and $10,000 more than the exact same non-syncro vehicle to purchase, and EVERYTHING about them is more difficult and expensive to repair. My advice is to stay away from the Syncro unless you REALLY want all wheel drive, and the word BUDGET is NOT part of your vocabulary.


1993-2003 VW vans are Eurovan models. Eurovan production started in 1992 in Europe. It was introduced in the USA as a 1993 model as a passenger van and weekender with and without the pop-top. All Eurovan full campers sold in the USA are Winnebago conversions, not Westfalia.

1993-1994: The only VW pop-top models offered in the USA in 1993 and 1994 was the Westfalia Weekender Multi-Van (MV). These vehicles were the same as the regular passenger vans, except they had an interior and pop-top installed by Westfalia. However, these were weekenders, without sink, frig, or stove. They had two rear-facing seats, one fixed seat behind the driver with a slide-out electric cooler under it on pop-top versions only, and the other behind the passenger seat that is easily removable (both removable on the non-pop-top version). The venerable VW/Audi inline 5-cylinder 140 hp engine powered all the 1993-1994 models. This is the same engine that was used in the Audi 5000 since about 1977. They were available in either 5-speed manual or 4 speed electronically controlled automatic. This set-up was discontinued in 1995 and re-introduced in 1997 with a V6 and made basically unchanged through end of production in 2003. The V6 was not offered as a 5-speed manual.

1995-1996: The first Eurovan full-campers (EVC's) were available in the USA starting in 1995, and were Winnebago camper conversions. Although there theoretically were 1996 models that were presumably the same as the 1995 models, all of the 5-cylinder EVC's we have seen at GoWesty have all been 1995 models. We have never seen a 1996 model. All EVC's are based on an extended delivery-van version which is 15.5 inches longer than the regular Eurovan CL, MV, and GLS models. They were delivered to Winnebago basically bare inside from the behind the front seats (the front seats are VW, everything back from there on the inside is Winnebago), but fully loaded with all creature comfort options (AC, cruise, power everything). Winnebago then converted them to a pop-top camper. These early Winnie campers had the same power plant as the 93/94 regular Eurovan models, the same VW/Audi 5-cylinder in-line engine that was used in the Audi 5000 and VW Quantum models. These 5-cylinder EVC's were available with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transaxles. In general, you want to stay away from the 95/96 models unless you HAVE TO have a stick-shift Eurovan. The manual trans options was only available in 1995/1996. If you don't HAVE TO have a manual trans, then get a V6 EVC FOR SURE.

1997-2000: In 1997 VW switched to the 139 HP/172 ft-lb “VR6”, 12 valve V6 and dropped the 5-speed option. This new engine was more reliable than even the highly reliable 5-cylinder, and it DOES NOT have a timing belt to maintain! The interior fabric pattern although still basically gray, changed from a thin-stripped arrangement to little triangles. In 2000 the interior fabric changed again to a circular pattern, and all the interior ABS plastic changed to a lighter color gray. The interior stayed the same from 2000 through to the end of production in 2003. From 1997-on, dual air bags became standard. However, the glove box disappeared.

2001-2003: These were the best of the EVC's. In 2001 the VR6 was redesigned with all new engine management system, 4 valves per cylinder instead of 2 (24 valves total instead of 12), with variable cam timing and individual coils for each spark plug, eliminating the need for high tension "spark plug wires". The HP jumped an amazing 45% to 201HP, and the engine was even more reliable. It should be noted that the engine was not any larger in displacement but rather remained the same at 2.8 liters. Therefore the engine's torque output only increased to by 8 ft-lbs to 180, only 5%. So, the seat of the pants feel between the 1997-2000 models and the 2001-2003 models is not very much different, and in fact the lower HP engine is quite satisfactory. I once towed a Vanagon Westy on a tow dolly behind a 2000 EVC from Portland back to Los Osos, California. Without even shifting the transaxle manually I could travel the speed limit up and down all the grades and cruise at 90 on the flats! Now THAT'S PLENTY of power. With the introduction of the higher HP engine, the 15-inch road wheel was replaced with a 16-inch wheel to make room for larger brakes. Additionally, a rear sway bar was added and the rear suspension was raised about 2". Other than that, it didn’t change noticeably outwardly. Indeed, a 1997 EVC fitted with 16" wheels looks just like a 2003. All V6 Eurovans should have the original plastic impeller water pump replaced with one that has a steel impeller. That is pretty much the ONLY part on a VR6 engine that fails prematurely and suddenly, and can cause catastrophic overheating and engine melt down. A new water pump with steel impeller is only about $80!

The Achilles Heel of the Eurovan is the Automatic Transmission.

All years of the Eurovan with the Automatic have proven to be potentially problematic. Almost all automatic transmissions, foreign and domestic, are electronically controlled after about 1990, and the Eurovan is no exception. The term “electronically controlled” means there is a computer, wiring, and electric solenoids involved telling the transmission when to shift, and into which gear. Because of their complicated design, quality control is extremely critical. It is pitifully common to have the AT on a Eurovan completely fail at 70, 60, or even 50K miles! The design of the Eurovan AT is basically very solid. All of the failures that we have seen have been quality control related. A bad connection, a loose roll pin, something seemingly inconsequential “brings the whole house down”. Failures come often without warning, leaving folks stranded. Some of our customers have opted to have their transmission gone through before it fails as an extra measure of insurance, and save money and potential inconvenience. We have taken Eurovan automatic transmissions apart with over 100k miles that were working fine as a preemptive measure, only to find they were less than 50% worn! The bottom line is this: If a Eurovan automatic makes it past the first 100k miles or so without a failure, chances are it will go the distance. Eurovans with between 40 and 100k miles are in what we call the “danger zone”. A transmission failure is almost always preceded by debris in the oil pan, which is clearly evident during an oil change. That is why we recommend transmission oil changes every 15k miles until past the danger zone, and then every 30k miles thereafter. Even still, every Eurovan we sell with mileage in the “danger zone”, we strongly recommend to the buyer they also purchase an extended warranty that specifically covers the transmission. These can be had for under $1500, and can be well worth it. You can expect to pay $5,000 to $6,000 and have to wait a week for a rebuilt transmission installed in a Eurovan at a typical repair shop, in the middle of nowhere. Now the good news: GoWesty stocks rebuilt transmissions for $3995, and can ship anywhere in the country, usually the same day!

Volkswagen Pop-Top Camper Model Overview

The Eurovan 97 has dual airbags.

The Eurovan Winnebago is the best appointed that can still fit in a parking place

The Rialta is best for a mobile office platform.

The Westfalia is best for maximum wilderness access, as it has the best turning radius.

Here is the Van I have won on auction I still have to pay the balance and get it! 10.5k with a wierd 83 gti 1.6

Written by The Van Lover

Building a Conversion Camper Van for Cheap

Before I purchased my Airstream I had owned several different vans... none of them were true camper vans, but they were pretty close. The hardest and most expensive thing to add to a conversion van that is going to be made into a camper van is a complete running water system with grey and black water tanks.

My first experience creating a camper van was with a 1987 1 ton Chevy Van that had been used by a local school. I thought I had found a great deal until I ripped up the carpeting and realized the van had been used to transport long distances back and forth between the school and a ski resort! Yikes! There was very little rust on the outside of the van but once I pulled up the carpet the entire floor boards were rusted. The ski boots and all the melt water had soaked through the carpeting destroying the floor. Lesson learned... if you can find out what a van was used for before you make a commitment to buy it may help you make a better decision.

So I sand blasted the floor, painted it, threw in some new carpet and put it back up for sale.

My next attempt at creating a Conversion Camper Van was much more successful and I'd suggest if you are building your own "Weekender" Van that you follow this simple advice. Buy a recent model with a raised roof and captains chairs and all the amenities... you are going to tear some of it out, but it's much easier to remove than to add. Plus it's so much cheaper.

So I purchased and upscale conversion van with windows and carpeting and 2 stereos... just about everything. And the crazy thing is it cost me less than $5,000! The van market has just collapsed so you can find some really good deals if you shop around. Be sure to check for rust.

Now the conversion from a luxury custom van to one suitable for camping is quite easy. Remove the extra captains chairs. Go to an RV or Trailer Supply company and purchase a ready build sink/stove unit. You can use the existing seat holes to mount your sink/stove combination down one site of the van. Depending on your preference for sleeping (lengthwise or across) you'll need to decide which side to mount it on.

Next thing I did was go to the local Bed Bath store and purchased a couple of expanding shower rods. These are lightweight and can be stretched across any width. I then purchased cafe curtains. This is a very simple way to add privacy to your rig. Simply expand the curtains across the sides of the van just behind or in front of the drivers and passenger seats. Whenyou drive you take them down when you park you put them up. Quick, cheap and easy privacy.

I chose not to put full time grey or black water tanks in my van, because I did not plan on spending more than weekends in it. I can't advise you on the best way to do that as it will require welding and additional planning. But for cheap you can get a portapotty at the Trailer supply place and build a very simple divider wall or again take advantage of how easy it is to move the curtains front to back. When someone needs to use the facilities the other people simply exit the van. If you buy an existing conversion van you'll save a ton because window treatmens and curtains that are custom made for vans are expensive, you want to get these with your rig.

To summarize my Conversion Camper Van Project:

    • Buy an existing Conversion Van

    • Remove what you don't want

    • Add back a sink/stove unit self contained

    • Purchase Curtain Rods and Curtains

    • Make sure to get a raised roof

    • Plan your layout for Cross or Lengthwise sleeping.

I actually built a lengthwise twin bed into my van, that was high enough so one person could sleep on top and the other on the floor and still have room to move around the sink. You don't have to spend a ton of money to make a nice rig. I did my entire rig for about $7,000 complete. And it's great. Compare that to a RoadTrek or a Pleasure Way and you may not have every cool little feature, but you'll still be camping in style! And with the money saved you can get a hotel room over and over, for those longer trips when you want a little more room and need a shower. I still have and use my weekender... but I also kept my eyes open and picked up a sweet Airstream Class B for the longer trips. Something about having a shower and a refrigerator on long trips really appealed to me.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 10:14

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Driving the 1980 Volkswagen Bus

Driving the 1980 Volkswagen Bus, which was officially marketed as the Vanagon, was a lot like experiencing a familiar flavor in a new and different wrapper.

Driving the 1980 Volkswagen Bus started with the realization that with curb weights up by about 250 pounds over the 1979 version, to around 3,300 pounds for the basic Vanagon, acceleration was still not a strong suit.

Road & Track tried a four-speed seven seater, which had a test weight of 3,510 pounds, and clocked it at 21.2 seconds 0-60 mph and at 21.5 seconds at 60.5 mph in the quarter-mile. Top speed was 88 mph.

"Clearly, this is not acceleration that will elicit gasps of glee," Road & Track admitted, "but it does permit the Vanagon to keep up with everyday, around-town traffic."

Car and Driver wrung out a 17.9-second 0-60 mph time, turning 20.7 seconds at 63 mph in the quarter, but its top speed was only 75 mph. Fuel economy averaged about 17 mpg in most tests.

Nobody ever purchased a Volkswagen Bus for its power and that wasn't going to change with the Vanagon. But sensitive drivers would be rewarded by the Vanagon's road manners.

Unladened weight distribution was now 50/50 and though the breadbox-on-wheels was still top heavy, the new suspension and wider track allowed it to circle the skidpad at a car like 0.79 lateral g forces, compared to the previous bus's 0.63 g's.

Resistance to crosswinds was better than ever, but much attention was again required of the driver in gusty conditions. The Vanagon's ride was firm, but overall control was far superior to that of domestic vans, which still used solid rear axles.

"Once you get used to being seated a couple of stories above the pavement, you can slice through twisty roads with abandon," Car and Driver said in its first test of the new Vanagon.

"Its steering is amply quick, and even has plenty of road feel and a strong sense of center, " the magazine continued. "Bumps, even in the middle of corners, don't have a prayer of deflecting the Vanagon off course. But like many a German car, it thrums its way across tar strips and surface imperfections."

All this goodness came at a price. Vanagons started at around $9,500 for 1980, and with options such as the $290 AM/FM cassette system and auxiliary heater, the cost of a VW bus could top $10,200. Most reviewers found it worth the money, however.

"All in all, the Vanagon is a major improvement over its predecessors and, in our opinion, maintains VW's position as the manufacturer of the world's leading van," said Road & Track.

Motor Trend liked the new Vanagon so much it named it 1980 Truck of the Year. "The Vanagon is one of the best utilitarian vehicles ever to take to the highway," the editors said. "Its efficient use of space, attention to ride comfort and sedan-like handling position it as the new high mark the industry must strive to equal."

"Some things, it's nice to see, just never change," concluded Car and Driver. "The VW bus stood apart from the crowd when the children of the Sixties were dropping out, and it's still a vehicle for the alternative-minded now that they've dropped back in. Of course, these days the VW bus's special attractiveness results from engineering refinement rather than counterculture appeal."

That "engineering refinement" would soon include a water-cooled engine. Would it be enough to stave off yet another batch of competitors? Find out beginning on the next page.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:

1981-1985 Volkswagen Bus

The 1981-1985 Volkswagen Bus benefited from an accelerated rate of change, but its basic rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive design was about to be eclipsed by a new sort of minivan.

Even as Wolfsburg was planning changes to roll into the 1981-1985 Volkswagen Bus, Chrysler was already at work on its front-engine, front-wheel-drive minivans. As the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager, they would revolutionize the market pioneered by the Volkswagen Bus.

As those rivals were under development, Volkswagen bolstered the Vanagon with a quieter, quicker, and more-fuel efficient engine. It was introduced during 1983 and called the Wasserboxer. That was the German way of saying that the Volkswagen Bus flat-four had gotten water cooling.

Added to engine were passages for cylinder heads and piston sleeves through which liquid now flowed. On the nose of the Volkswagen Bus, below the false "grille," appeared a genuine one and behind it was a radiator. Coolant circulating from the radiator to the engine passed through a real heater beneath the dashboard and another optional unit under the rear seat, finally providing the Volkswagen Bus with bona fide cold-weather comfort.

The engine's new water jackets further isolated engine noise, and while the engineers were at it, they refined the boxer's pistons, valves, camshaft, and fuel-injection system and gave it a higher compression ratio, 8.6:1 compared to 7.3:1.

Displacement actually decreased by 55 cc, but horsepower increased by 15, to 82 at 4800. Torque grew by five pounds/feet, to 106, and now peaked at 2600 rpm, 400 rpm sooner than before. Zero-60 mph times fell into the low-18-second range, and overall fuel economy climbed to around 19 mph.

The downside was a price that kept escalating, with the average passenger Vanagon now listing for around $12,250. It was still worth paying, though, according to the professional testers.

"In our initial Vanagon road test...we said that the VW van is clearly

the leader in technological development in its class," Road & Track asserted in its May 1983 report on the water boxer Volkswagen Bus. "That's still true, as we discovered driving the standard shift and automatic Wasserboxers. The new engine's power, flexibility, economy and quietness are delightful and give the VW van a level of performance that is commensurate with its design."

This would be the final time most Americans would agree that Volkswagen could claim a clear design advantage in the small-van field.

Vanagon sales had enjoyed a modest increase in 1983, climbing to 15,193 from 12,847 the previous year, and sales advanced again in 1984, to an all-time high of 17,985.

But the Chrysler minivans, which were built on the company's front-drive K-car platform and were much more car like than the larger Vanagon, took the market by storm from their launch in early 1984.

Ford and Chevy weighed in for 1985 with the more conventional truck-based front-engine/rear-drive Aerostar and Astro, respectively. And the Japanese were now aboard with odd little home-market transplants. But it was the Caravan and Voyager that dominated, with combined sales of more than 160,000 in 1985, their first full year. Vanagon sales for 1985 fell to 16,803.

How did VW respond to declining Volkswagen Bus sales? With more power and a new way to deliver it. Find out on the next page.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:

1986-1991 Volkswagen Bus

The 1986-1991 Volkswagen Bus spanned a time during which VW thought more power and availability of all-wheel-drive might entice buyers back to its people-mover fold. The new features pleased Volkswagen Bus loyalists, but didn't hold much appeal to those for whom minivan now meant the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager.

The 1986 Volkswagen Bus, still marketed as the VW Vanagon, debuted both a larger engine and high-tech traction-enhancing all-wheel drive option.

The engine was again the horizontally opposed water-cooled four-cylinder, but displacement grew to 2.1 liters (2,109cc, 129 cubic inches), compression rose to 9.0:1, and horsepower increased by 16 percent, to 95 at 4800. Torque jumped to 117 pounds/feet at 3200 rpm.

A new grille with rectangular headlamps dressed up the nose of the1986 Volkswagen Bus, and power windows, central locking, and heated power mirrors were new options.

The 1986 Volkswagen Bus Vanagon Syncro model was the first all-wheel-drive passenger van sold in the U.S. It was available as a passenger model or a Camper. Its all-wheel-drive system was less-complicated than the center-differential setup VW was offering in Europe on its Quattro passenger car.

Under normal driving conditions, the Syncro sent 95 percent of the engine's power through the rear wheels. But power was fed to the front wheels whenever the speed differential between the front and rear wheels exceeded six percent, meaning rear-wheel traction was being lost.

The speed differential acted upon a gooey silicon fluid trapped in a viscous coupling integrated into the front-axle differential. Interconnected plates within the case were engaged by the fluid action and in turn transferred power to the front axles.

The amount of power transferred depended on road conditions and was infinitely variable, continuous, and undetectable by the driver. For maximum traction, an optional locking rear differential could be engaged via a dashboard knob.

Syncro models rode 1.2 inches higher than rear-wheel-drive Vanagons, had about one additional inch of suspension travel, and rode on 205/70R14 tires, two sizes wider than on regular Vanagons. Syncro models were available only with manual transmission, but they got a "creeper" 6.0:1 low gear, for five forward speeds.

VW fitted Syncro models with an 18.4-gallon fuel tank, but mounted it in back, nestled around the gearbox. The spare tire also moved to a new aft location.

The Syncro was marketed not as a off-road vehicle but an all-weather van. VW demonstrated the system's mechanical reliability by driving a Vanagon Syncro around the world, covering 27,000 miles in a record 131 days in conditions that ranged from minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit in Canada to a roasting 123 degrees in Australia.

Though Syncro hardware, which included a front skid plate, added 330 pounds to the 3,270-pound Vanagon or 3,670-pound Camper, it did not seriously affect acceleration.

Car and Driver tested a Camper Syncro, which tipped the scales at 4,000 pounds, and recorded a respectable 0-60 mph time of 18.3 seconds. The feature wasn't cheap, however, adding $2,175 to the cost of a Volkswagen Bus.

So 1986 Volkswagen Vanagons now started at $13,140, with a Camper Syncro topping the line at a listed $19,335. Popular options were air conditioning ($990) and an AM/FM cassette radio ($575).

Syncros accounted for only small fraction of Vanagon sales, which continued to shrink in the U.S. The Vanagon was doing well in other markets and each day, the Hanover factory turned out nearly 500 of all types to satisfy worldwide demand.

In 1986, VW built its six-millionth Volkswagen Bus. In the U.S. that year, Vanagon sales sunk to 12,669. It was a slide that seemed to have no end, as you'll discover on the next page.

America was entranced by the Chrysler brands, which sold more than 220,000 units for 1986 and would soon be averaging 500,000 or more annually.

Sales of the 1987 Volkswagen Bus slumped to 10,656, then to 5,416 for the 1988 Volkswagen Bus. There they hovered for the balance of the decade.

As the Vanagon played out its string, VW gave it some minor exterior styling changes and introduced plush Wolfsburg and Carat editions. It even briefly offered an inline four-cylinder 1.6-liter diesel engine, but with only 48 horsepower, it wasn't popular.

Once again VW needed something new to get back in the van game. This time, mere powertrain alterations wouldn't do. Find out on the next page about the redesigned, and renamed, 1993 Volkswagen Bus.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:

For 1986, all Volkswagen Buses got a 2.1-liter engine with 95 horsepower. Horizontal headlamps were new, too, as seen on this Camper model.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The 1983, the 2.0-liter flat four-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen Bus was re-engineered, going from air-cooled to water-cooled. It had 82 horsepower.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

1993-2003 VOL

1993 Volkswagen Bus: The EuroVan

VW put an all-new people mover on the market and introduced yet another new name. Here was the 1993 Volkswagen Bus: the EuroVan.

VW had not offered a Vanagon-generation Volkswagen Bus for the 1992 model year; dealers had enough leftover 1991 versions. Clearly something different was needed.

The1993 Volkswagen Bus, the EuroVan, arrived in April 1992 as a fourth-generation design with an entirely new powertrain layout. The 1993 EuroVan exchanged the time-honored rear-engine/rear-drive configuration for front-engine/front-wheel drive.

VW pitched it not as a "minivan" rival to the Chrysler brands, but as a "midsize" van capable of taking on the Astro and Aerostar.

Indeed, with a wheelbase of 115 inches and an overall length of 186.6, it was larger than the Vanagon. And it looked different. But the big news was the new powertrain.

The only engine offered in U.S.-market EuroVans was a 2.5-liter overhead-cam inline five-cylinder. It made 109 horsepower at 4500 rpm and 140 pounds/feet of torque at a low 2200 rpm. The new five-cylinder drove the front wheels through a standard five-speed manual transaxle or an optional four-speed automatic. Base curb weight was 3,806 pounds, about 340 more than the comparable Vanagon.

Acceleration was a little better than that of the last Vanagons, whose 2.1-liter boxer had ended its run at 90 horsepower. But a EuroVan still wouldn't zip in and out of traffic or pass on a two-lane road without a lot of advanced planning. And maintaining speed on a long uphill grade still required downshifting from fifth gear to third.

EuroVan's body was sleeker than the Vanagon's, with a longer nose and chiseled contours. It could not be called handsome, but then VW's vans had lost a big chunk of charm with each succeeding redesign. None was more spacious that the EuroVan, however. Few vans were.

VW's desire to maximize interior volume led to a new, more-compact suspension. In front was a double-wishbone design that reverted to torsion bars instead of coil springs. In back was a semi-trailing arm and coil-spring setup.

In width and height, the EuroVan was within fractions of an inch of the Vanagon, but managed to furnish a full 201 cubic feet of space with the rear seats removed. It could swallow a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Buyers had to go to a full-size domestic van to equal such capacity.

When they did choose a EuroVan, what was it like to drive? Find out on the next page.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:

Driving the 1993 Volkswagen Bus

Driving the 1993 Volkswagen Bus gave some clue about why it was now called the EuroVan. Despite its now minivan-conventional front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout, driving the 1993 Volkswagen Bus was a distinctly European experience.

The longer wheelbase took the front doors off the wheel arches, so it was easier to climb into the front buckets than before, but getting into or out of a EuroVan still was not as easy as in most rival minvians. Once aboard, the cabin was more luxurious than ever and the seats were more supportive, but the interior was still teutonically austere compared with that of competitors.

EuroVan's German character also came through in a suspension that noticed most every pavement flaw but provided a relatively flat ride and fine overall control. Noise from engine and road were quite evident, though wind rush at highway speeds was surprisingly low.

Gauges and controls were unobstructed, but the additional controls necessitated by the standard front and rear air conditioning on uplevel models made for a confusing array of climate buttons, levers, and dials.

Compared to the car like driving positions of rival minivans, EuroVan's steering wheel was still fixed at a bus like horizontal angle. Visibility was nearly panoramic, though as many as five headrests could be visible through the rearview mirror, confusing the view aft.

Braking was by ventilated front discs and rear drums, with an anti-lock system--unavailable on Vanagon--a new option. A driver-side air bag, which had become standard on most other minivans by 1993, was not available, however.

The only EuroVan model offered in the U.S. was the seven-seat passenger version. The Camper was superseded by an optional Weekender Package that included a pop-up roof with an integral double bed plus a refrigerated cooler and window curtains and screens. The usual assortment of commercial and utility models, as well as a 130.7-inch wheelbase camper, were offered in other markets.

Volkswagen Bus loyalists could see that EuroVan was true to traditional VW-van virtues of lots of room and utility in a manageably sized package. But the world had changed. High style, car like comfort, and sport-sedan acceleration were the fashion now.

For once, EuroVan prices were in line with rivals, starting in the mid $16,000s to about $22,000, though options such as automatic transmission ($895) anti-lock brakes ($853), power windows and locks, and cruise control ($765) could push up the price. The Weekender Package was a hefty $2,530.

The American public was unenthusiastic. EuroVan sales in the U.S. totaled just 5,634 for 1993. VW didn't formally introduce a 1994 Volkswagen Bus, instead selling off some 4,675 leftover 1993 EuroVans.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:

1995-2003 Volkswagen Bus

The 1995-2003 Volkswagen Bus story was an on-again, off-again affair, and it effectively ended the Volkswagen Bus's European connection.

VW didn't even offer a EuroVan at all in the U.S. for 1995, though buyers could order a version of the 130.7-inch wheelbase Camper. A small number of these campers were built with the help of the U.S. firm, Winnebago Industries Inc. of Forest City, Iowa.

The $30,000 Camper, which included sleeping accommodations for four, plus the usual cooking and storage equipment, was sold through an even smaller number of Volkswagen dealers who had signed up for this temporary venture. The camper was the only Volkswagen Bus available in the U.S. through 1998.

Again, VW was at a crossroads. It had produced the Sharan, a sleek front-wheel-drive minivan for Europe in cooperation with Ford. Ford's version was called the Galaxy. The significance of the Sharan for American buyers was that it could be had with VW's unique narrow-angle V-6 engine, an engine that provided the impetus for a revised and relaunched 1999 Volkswagen Bus.

Still badged the EuroVan, the 1999 Volkswagen Bus had slightly revised front-end styling and, with 140 horsepower, was the most-powerful Volkswagen Bus yet. The power came from VW's VR6, its first new engine since the 1970s.

The VR6 name was a combination of "V" and Reihe, the German word for an inline design. The engine came to the U.S. first in the 1993 Passat GLX sedan and wagon, where it was rated at 174 horsepower.

The VR6 was a unique powerplant that packed 2.8 liters of V-6 engine into the space of a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine. It's cylinder banks were set at a 15-degree vee, rather than the conventional 60 or 90 degrees.

The narrow angle allowed use of a single cylinder head for both banks. There were two valves per cylinder and, despite the "DOHC" stamping on the engine cover, one overhead cam per cylinder bank.

The EuroVan used the VR6 to power a GLS passenger model, a recreation-oriented MV (Multi-Van), and the long-wheelbase Camper. While most minivan rivals now had sliding doors on both sides, the Volkswagen Bus persisted with a single, right-side sliding door.

The VR6 was a smooth runner, but the 1999 Volkswagen Bus still took about 12 seconds 0-60 mph; that compared with 8.9 seconds for a contemporary Toyota Sienna minivan with a conventional 3.0-liter V-6 of 194 horsepower. The Volkswagen Bus was expensive, too, with the GLS starting at around $30,000 and the Camper now around $35,000.

The VR6-powered Volkswagen Bus soldiered on through the 2003 model year, sales sinking consistently.

Even as sport-utility vehicles took over from minivans as the American family wagon of choice, the minivan market in the U.S. was still the world's largest, with sales steady at about 1 million units annually.

But starting in 2004, in a category of vehicle that it invented -- one in which it had stood alone, inspiring imitators and generating a cult following - Volkswagen was without an entry.

Find out on the next page what VW planned to do to re-enter the minivan market.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:

2009 Volkswagen Bus

The 2009 Volkswagen Bus is VW's way of saying, "If you can't beat 'me, join 'me." After decades of swimming upstream, the 2009 Volkswagen Bus places VW in the minivan mainstream.

The 2009 Volkswagen Bus is built, literally, on the most successful minivan heritage of all time. It uses the chassis, running gear, powertrains, and general structure of the newest Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, but with a VW twist to styling and materials.

The 2009 Volkswagen Bus was scheduled to go on sale during 2008. No pictures of the 2009 Volkswagen Bus were available in time for this report, but it is not likely to look much like the boxy Dodge and Chrysler minivans that were redesigned for the 2008 model year

"When I saw the styling of the vehicle it is quite distinctive and Volkswageny," Trevor Creed, Chrysler group senior vice president of design told the trade paper Automotive News. "And they have done their own interior as well."

Added Creed: "All of their sheet metal is unique. All of their glass is the same. That is the big economy of scale in doing it."

To control costs, the 2009 Volkswagen Bus will almost certainly retain the Grand Caravan's 121.1-inch wheelbase, among the longest in the minivan class. The Dodge and Chrysler minivans come only with front-wheel drive and a choice of three V-6 engines, ranging from 175 to 251 horsepower. VW was mum on the engine lineup for the 2009 Volkswagen Bus, and also on whether it would offer all-wheel drive.

Volkswagen sources said the 2009 Volkswagen Bus would have seven seats, but would not confirm whether it would also offer the Stow 'n Go or the Swivel 'n Go setups available on the Dodge and Chrysler, at least not initially.

Stow 'n Go enables the second and third-row seats to fold into the floor, and the Swivel 'n Go allows face-to-face seating for the second and third rows, with a fold-out table in between. Swivel 'n Go, in fact, harkens back to seating available on Vanagon and EuroVan versions of the Volkswagen Bus. VW sources did confirm that cabin materials would be more upscale than those on the Chrysler models.

Basing the 2009 Volkswagen Bus on a Chrysler platform might rankle the most committed Volkswagen Bus loyalists. But at least it insures Americans will be able to buy a 2009 Volkswagen Bus.

Any future for the Volkswagen Bus was quite uncertain after VW shelved plans to offer American buyers anything like the charming Microbus concept unveiled at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

That retro design captured the rounded forms of the beloved pre-1980 Volkswagen Bus, and seemed destined for production. VW deflated that plan in May 2004, announcing that something like the Microbus might be offered for European and Asian markets, but not for the U.S.

The flip-flop seemed typical of the twists and turns that make up the story of the Volkswagen Bus. The original people mover was always easy to like, but seldom had it easy in a world too busy to appreciate its laid-back approach to moving people.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:


VW re-entered the U.S. passenger-van market for 1999 with a revised EuroVan packing the innovative narrow-angle VR6 engine and slightly revised styling.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

A roomy cabin with supportive seats was a highlight, but the EuroVan still seemed out of step with minivan trends, and U.S. sales slowed to a trickle.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

A modern dashboard layout helped, but the EuoVan driving position still was not as car-like as most Americans would have desired.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The EuroVan was the fourth-generation Volkswagen Bus. Base prices were in a reasonable $16,000-$22,000 range, but it was still soundly outsold by American minivans.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

With demand low, VW of America offered just a camper version of the Volkswagen Bus for 1995. It was a Winnebago conversion of a long-wheelbase European model.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The 1993 Volkswagen Bus had a 109-horsepower 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine, but at 3,800 pounds, it was not enough to move the Bus with much verve.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.


By 1989, when this plush $19,000 Wolfsburg Limited Edition was offered, Vanagon sales were suffering at the hands of the car-based Chrysler and Dodge minivans.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Note Floor Plugs can be used to bolt down seating : For dimensions of vanagon westfalia's and the VW Transporter T3

The last EuroVans were the most mainstream Volkswagen Buses ever, but high prices and slow sales doomed them, and U.S. imports were halted after the 2003 model year.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

VW teased Volkswagen Bus loyalists with the Microbus concept at the 2001 Detroit auto show. It captured the retro flavor of early VW buses.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The 1986-1991 Volkswagen Bus still appealed for features like this friendly seating arrangement. And the 1986 Syncro model was the first all-wheel-drive passenger van.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

VW announced in 2004 that it would not offer the U.S. a production version of the Microbus concept shown here. Instead, it would tap Chrysler for its next U.S. van.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

With the redesigned 1993 Volkswagen Bus, the EuroVan, VW exchanged rear-engine, rear-wheel drive, for a modern front-engine, front-drive layout.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Whether the Chrysler-minivan-based 2009 Volkswagen Bus will look anything like the Microbus concept pictured was a closely held secret in 2007.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.


Driver space

Seating Comfort

    • Two full-swiveling front captain seats with adjustable armrests

    • Two-person rear bench*

    • Optional two-person center bench that faces forward or rearward*

Standing/Sleeping Room

    • Pop-up roof raises to create up to 7' of floor-to-ceiling room*

    • Canvas side-walls with screened windows on three sides*

    • 74"x43"bed for two in the pop-up roof*

    • Rear bench unfolds in to a second 74"(84")x43" bed*

Storage Areas

    • Wardrobe closet with sliding door access (37" tall, 28" wide, 15" deep)*

    • 15 cu. ft. of enclosed cabinet space (including wardrobe)*

    • 20 cu. ft. of storage behind and under the rear bench*

    • Driver and passenger door storage pockets

    • Netted storage pockets in rear hatch area*

    • Silverware drawer*

    • Roof-top luggage carrier with tie-down bars*

    • Center and rear benches are removable without tools*

Camping Supplies

    • Front seats swivel 360 degrees

    • AC/DC/LP gas refrigerator (2 cu. ft.)*

    • Two-burner LP gas stove with stainless steel splatter shield*

    • Stainless steel sink and counter top*

    • Two multi-adjustable dining/utility tables*

    • Auxiliary deep cycle coach battery (130 amp/hour rating)*

    • AC-to DC power converter with coach battery charger*

    • Two 110-volt outlets, two 12-volt outlets*

    • LED monitor panel for water tanks, LP gas and coach battery

    • Fluorescent lights over gallery and lower bed*

    • Incandescent light for upper bed

    • Driver-side tip-out screened window

    • Passenger-side sliding screened window

    • Room darkening, pleated blinds for side windows

    • Privacy curtains for front cab and rear hatch windows*

    • Tip-out roof vent*

    • Auxiliary water sprayer at rear hatch*

    • Marine grade vinyl flooring rear of driver's cab

    • Optional 12,000 BTU forced air furnace*

      • I have read that the camper convertion adds 900# of weight to the van.

Storage Tanks

    • 21.1-gallon gasoline tank

      • 126.6#

    • 12-gallon fresh water tank

      • 96.0#

    • 8-gallon "gray" water tank*

      • 64.0#

    • 5.9-gallon LP gas tank*

      • 25.0#

Automotive Equipment

    • In-dash air conditioning (CFC-free)

    • Front and rear heating systems

    • Power front windows with one-touch-down feature

    • Power door locks (including side door and rear hatch)

    • Cruise control with resume

    • AM/FM/Cassette stereo with six speakers**

    • Inetermittent windshield wipers

    • Beverage holders

    • Interior lighting, front cab area and side entrance

    • Power outside mirrors with electric defrost feature

    • Rear hatch wiper and defroster

2003 Volkswagen EuroVan

CG Rating


out of 100

About our Road Test



    • Price Range: $0 - $13,400

Learn about the year-to-year changes and reliability for the 1993-2003 Volkswagen EuroVan and our price chart details a range of prices based on vehicle mileage and condition.


    • Visibility

    • Passenger room

    • Cargo room

    • Antilock brakes


    • Acceleration

    • Road noise

    • Ride

    • Entry/exit

    • Control layout

    • Steering/handling


Introduced in spring of 1992, as a 1993 model, Volkswagen's EuroVan replaced the rear-engined, rear-drive Vanagon, which left the lineup in fall 1991. EuroVan had its 109-horsepower, 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine up front, driving the front wheels. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard, with 4-speed automatic optional. EuroVan came in CL and GL trim, along with a camper-oriented MV model. All versions rode a 115.0-inch wheelbase and measured 186.6 inches long overall, compared to 97 and 180 inches for the Vanagon. Base CL and midlevel GL models seated seven, with a 2-seat center bench and a 3-place rear bench. The MV also seated seven but had a pair of rear-facing middle buckets, a swing-up middle table, and a rear bench that folded into a bed. An optional Weekender Package for the MV included a pop-up roof with an integral double bed, plus a refrigerated cooler and screened, curtained windows. Front and rear air conditioning were standard on GL and MV models, optional on CL. Antilock brakes were optional, but a driver's airbag was not available.

EXPERT RATINGS SUMMARY (view detailed report)

Learn about the year-to-year changes of the 1993-2003 Volkswagen EuroVan. Get full details of the styling and performance changes throughout the history of the 1993-2003 Volkswagen EuroVan.


1994 Volkswagen EuroVan: No 1994 EuroVans were issued, as Volkswagen planned to launch a revised version in the spring of that year, as an early '95 model.

1995 Volkswagen EuroVan: Volkswagen had planned to introduce a revised EuroVan with dual airbags for 1995, but retreated from that intention. No regular 1995 EuroVans were marketed, but a small number of EuroVan Campers, built with the assistance of Winnebago Industries, went on sale through certain VW dealerships. Campers rode a stretched wheelbase, measuring 130.7 inches instead of the usual 115-inch. Seating for four was standard. An optional 2-place middle bench increased seating capacity to six. The middle and 2-place rear bench seats were removable, and the middle seat could also face rearward. Front bucket seats pivoted 360 degrees. A 2-person sleeping room popped out of the roof, and a wardrobe closet sat behind a sliding door. The built-in kitchen includes a 2-burner LP gas range, a refrigerator, stainless-steel sink, cabinets, and a 12-gallon water tank.

1996 Volkswagen EuroVan: Once again, Campers were the only EuroVans on the market.

1997 Volkswagen EuroVan: For the third year in a row, only Campers were marketed.

1998 Volkswagen EuroVan: Campers again were the only EuroVans to be found in the U.S. market.

1999 Volkswagen EuroVan: Volkswagen revived the regular EuroVan for 1999, modifying the basic 1993 design, freshening the interior and installing a V6 engine, as well as dual airbags. GLS and MV (Multivan) models went on sale. Rated at 140 horsepower, the 2.8-liter VR6 was modified to yield more torque in the EuroVan than it did in other Volkswagen models. A 4-speed automatic was the only transmission. A EuroVan could tow a 4400-pound trailer (if equipped with brakes), and had a cargo capacity of half a ton. Low-speed traction control was standard. EuroVans had fully independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and antilock braking. The body was strengthened, with reinforced floor panels and stronger B/C pillars. Daytime running lights were installed, as well as a child safety lock for the sliding door. Standard GLS equipment included power windows, a pollen/dust filter, air conditioning, power locks, cruise control, 6-speaker cassette stereo, intermittent wipers, heated windshield-washer nozzles, rear wiper/washer, and power mirrors. Seating seven, the GLS had a forward-facing center bench and a 3-place rear bench. The MV also seated seven, but had two separate rear-facing seats and a triple rear bench. An optional Weekender Package for the MV included a pop-up roof with 2-person bed, full-swiveling captain's chairs, window screens for two side sliding windows, a second battery, and a fixed left rear-facing seat with a refrigerator stowed beneath its lift-up seat bottom. Extended-wheelbase Camper versions remained on sale.

2000 Volkswagen EuroVan: Second-row bucket seats became available for the GLS model this year. New features included rear-seat reading lights, tinted rear glass, and remote central locking.

2001 Volkswagen EuroVan: EuroVan's engine was substantially revised and gained 61 horsepower. Antiskid system and rear child-seat anchors were also added.

2002 Volkswagen EuroVan: There were no significant changes for 2002.

2003 Volkswagen EuroVan: Unchanged for the second straight year. Due to slow sales the EuroVan was dropped at the end of 2003.

Our road test for the 1993-2003 Volkswagen EuroVan includes a full evaluation from the inside out. We've evaluated every aspect of the 1993-2003 Volkswagen EuroVan and highlighted the vehicle's performance with pros and cons. Use our comprehensive road test ratings to decide if this generation 1993-2003 Volkswagen EuroVan is right for you.


Far more modern than the old rear-drive Vanagon, EuroVan retained Volkswagen's traditional virtues of mammoth interior room and utility. What it lacked was contemporary styling and carlike comfort. Though acceleration with the 5-cylinder engine is adequate for most tasks, you cannot easily merge into freeway traffic or pass at will on 2-lane roads, without planning ahead. Ride quality is much firmer than on most minivans, too. The suspension notices nearly every pavement flaw, even if it provides a relatively flat ride and fine overall quality. Engine noise is prominent at all speeds. Road and engine noise are intrusive at highway speeds. European character is evident in the very firm but supportive chair-like seats, and in absence of interior ornamentation. The rear bench folds down for more space, or can be unbolted to create room for a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Step-up into the interior is higher than in most competitors. Gauges are unobstructed, but the driving position is buslike, with the steering wheel fixed at an awkward horizontal angle. It's a long reach to the stubby floor-mounted shift lever. Climate controls are confusing. Visibility is almost panoramic, though the driver sees too many headrests in the mirror. The VR6 engine of 1999-00 adds some welcome power, but it's still sluggish. A test model took a leisurely 12.2 seconds to reach 60 mph and averaged only 16 mpg, including plenty of highway driving. Nimble at freeway speeds, the latest EuroVan is highly maneuverable in snug spaces. Still, it feels somewhat "tippy" in tight turns and the front end tends to plow severely in aggressive cornering. Seats are firm and comfortable. No minivan has more passenger or cargo room, but entry into the front seat is tricky.

Value for the Money

For shoppers who favor strictly practical virtues, a EuroVan might be worth the price, though not many are on the used-car market. Those who seek stylishness, performance, or car-like comfort will have to look elsewhere.


Price Range:

Technical Information

    • 2.5-liter, five-cylinder Broad Torque engine

      • Peak horsepower, 109 @ 4,500 RPM

      • Peak ft./lbs. torque, 140 @ 2,200 RPM

      • Towing capacity, maximum 4,400 lb. braked-trailer

    • 2.8-liter, 6-cylinder VR6 engine

      • Peak horsepower: 140 @ 4,500 RPM

      • Peak Ft/lb. torque: 177 @ 3,200 RPM

      • Towing capacity: max. 4,400 lb. braked trailer

      • 4-wheel disk anti-lock braking system

      • Daytime running lights

    • Front-wheel drive

    • Fully independent suspension, front and rear

    • 4-speed automatic transmission

    • Low-speed Traction Control System

    • New engine and transmission mounts (3)

    • Additional engine compartment sound deadeners

    • Additional interior sound-deadening measures

    • Increased torsional and longitudinal body rigidity

    • Reinforced floor panels, B and C pillars

    • Height-adjustable head restraints for each passenger

    • Side impact beams in front doors and sliding door

    • Child safty lock for sliding door

    • LP gas and carbon monoxide detectors

      • Curb weight - 4850 lb

    • fuel-tank capacity/EPA city mpg - 21.1 gal/17

    • 1997 EPA estimates: 18mpg highway, 14mpg city

    • wheelbase - 130.7in

    • Track, F/R - 62.0/60.6 in

    • Length/Width - 202.0/72.4 in

    • Height - 80.0 in

    • Interior volume F/M/R/cargo (cu.ft): 52/50/50/35 (est)

    • Maximum cargo volume (cu. ft): 140 (est)

    • The camper convertion kit adds some 900#

    • @4850 #/140 hp = 34.6 #/hp

    • Front-wheel drive with 15" all-season tires

    • Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering

    • Fully independent suspension, front and rear

    • Power-assisted brakes with load-sensor

    • Five-speed manual transmission

    • Optional four-speed automatic transmission

    • Optional four-wheel anti-lock braking system

    • 1995 EPA estimates, 18 highway, 16 city

Safety Features

    • Height-adjustable three-point belts for front seats

    • Height-adjustable head restraints for each passenger

    • Energy-abosrbing steel frame with additional deformation element

    • Energy-absorbing steel body panels welded to a steel "safety cage"

    • Side impact beams in front doors and sliding side door

    • Dual diagonal braking circuits with Load-sensitive Braking System

    • High-mounted brake light

    • Child safety lock for sliding side door

    • Shift Lock III (automatic transmission)

    • Safety fuel tank

    • LP gas and Carbon Monoxide detectors*

    • Ground Fault Interrupt (GFI) protection on 110-volt outlets*

*Equipment/feature supplied by Winnebago Industries.

**Volkswagen supplies radio prep package, including four front cab speakers. Sony® radio and rear speakers supplied by Winnebago Industries

Here is the original: here is the original link:

for camper conversion www.Camper-Van.Co

Each vehicle report contains one rating chart for representative model. Consumer Guide® rates in ten key areas: Performance, Fuel Economy, Ride Comfort, Steering and Handling, Interior Noise, Controls and Materials, Driver Room, Passenger Room, Cargo Capacity, and Insurance Costs. These ratings compare the particular vehicle rated to ALL other vehicles, not a vehicle's standing in a particular class. In the ratings table, "1" is the lowest rating and "10" is the highest rating.

Our reliability study for this generation Volkswagen EuroVan includes details on average repair costs, manufacturer recalls, and everything you need to know to gauge the long-term reliability of this generation Volkswagen EuroVan .


Consumer Guide's® Auto Editors have scoured repair bulletins and questioned mechanics to search for commonly occurring problems for a particular vehicle. In some cases we also give possible manufacturer-suggested solutions. In many instances these trouble spots are Technical Service Bulletins posted by the manufacturer, however, we have our own expert looking at additional vehicle problems.

Audio system: The CD player skips if the vertical/horizontal switch is out of adjustment. (1995-2000)

Battery: The Premium-V radio drains the battery if the technician's test equipment is removed before the entire test sequence is finished. (1999)

Horn: Water gets into the horn and distorts the sound unless a splash shield is installed. (1997)

Transmission leak: The final drive unit was factory filled with automatic-transmission fluid that leaks from the vent. Later models were filled with final drive oil which will also fix the leak problem on these models. (1994-96)


This table lists costs of likely repairs for comparison with other vehicles. The dollar amount includes the cost of the part(s) and labor (based on $50 per hour) for the typical repair without extras or add-ons. Like the pricing information, replacement costs can vary widely depending on region. Expect charges at a new-car dealership to be slightly higher.


Our price chart for this generation Volkswagen EuroVan details a range of prices in year-by-year listings based on vehicle mileage and condition.

February 20th, 2012

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campervan conversion kits

campervan conversion kits,You’ve seen many tradesmen drive by in a Mercedes Sprinter cargo van, and you’ve realized that it would make a great small Sprinter camper van or Sprinter RV conversion. What now? There are many smaller custom conversion companies in the US which can convert Sprinters for you into a custom Sprinter RV conversion at a price lower than the typical class “B” Sprinter RV. However, even these small companies will charge at least US$70,000 for a fully-converted Sprinter RV, which is far above what the typical camper van used to cost.

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campervan conversion kits

If you are mechanically apt, you might consider the option of building your own custom Sprinter RV conversion. You can contract others to do some of the more specialized work, and do the simpler work yourself. By building your own, you can guarantee that the configuration matches your needs, at a price that you can afford. Since Mercedes Sprinter vans have been in widespread use in North America now for almost a decade, it’s easy to find used Mercedes Sprinter cargo vans on eBay, Craigslist or other online auto trading/auto sales sites.Camper equipment for your conversion is also easy to find from many retailers online.


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One note of caution – Though you will probably have no problem registering your DIY Sprinter conversion with the county motor vehicles department as an RV, many insurance companies will not insure a do-it-yourself conversion of a Sprinter van as a recreational vehicle. You may want to contact your insurance company to see if this is an issue – if it is, another option is to design your conversion yourself, and find a local conversion company who can build the conversion for you, and invoice you accordingly. The invoice may be sufficient for the “proof of value” that many insurance companies require to value an RV.

This chart details a range of prices in year-by-year listings for vehicles in three condition levels:

Good: a clean low-mileage, solid-running vehicle that needs little or no repair.

Average: a car with normal miles on the odometer, perhaps a few scrapes or dings; engine might need a minor repair or two, but runs acceptably well.

Poor: might have potentially dangerous problems with the engine and/or body, or abnormally high mileage; definitely in need of mechanical attention. Valuations reflect wholesale prices paid by dealers at auction, and retail prices on used-car lots. Each range covers all trim levels and engine types for a vehicle with a typical amount of equipment--usually an automatic transmission, air conditioning, stereo, etc. Fully loaded vehicles may cost more. Average mileage is 12,000 miles per year. Keep in mind that these are guidelines only. Actual selling prices vary- especially from region to region.

*Transaction prices for this vehicle typically fall below $1,000 and vary widely based on condition and location.

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Buying a New or Used Mercedes Sprinter

If you are looking to buy a new or used Mercedes Sprinter as the base vehicle for your Mercedes Sprinter camper van, you have several choices to make:

New or used? A new van will come with a steeper price tag, but also a full warranty. However, many older used vans can be had for a good price, if you know what to look for, and what to avoid. When buying used, have a certified mechanic check out your Mercedes Sprinter before you buy, and look up any mechanical issues for that year. Also, remember that a vehicle as large as a Sprinter may cost US$500-2000 to ship cross-country.What size? Used Mercedes Sprinters may come in 118-inch, 140-inch, 144-inch, 158-inch and 170-inch wheelbases. The longer the wheelbase, the heavier the vehicle – 170-inch wheelbase vans often weigh almost 11,000 lbs. If you want to spend any time off-road in your Mercedes Sprinter camper van, consider the smaller wheelbase sizes. If you want a shower and/or toilet in your camper, then you may need large hot water and wastewater tanks, as well as the space for the shower and toilet themselves, which may drive you to choose a larger-wheelbase model.What year? 2002-2010 Mercedes Sprinters are all widely available, each with slightly different features and engine choices. It may be worth paying more up front for a lower-mileage Mercedes Sprinter than paying later for new brakes, tires, transmissions, etc.Negotiating tactics – There are plenty of Mercedes Sprinters for sale. Narrow in on a year, model and price that you want, then contact dealers and private individuals all across North America. When they respond, ask each of them if they can match the price of your lowest offer.

Specs for this generation Volkswagen EuroVan include everything from fuel mileage to seating capacity to options availability.


campervan conversion kits

Design Considerations for Your Mercedes Sprinter RV Conversion

So you made your plans to build your own custom Sprinter RV conversion, and now you are the proud owner of a new or used Mercedes Sprinter cargo van, just waiting for you to make some decisions about how to convert it into a Sprinter camper van. First there are the major decisions to make:

How many will it sleep? 2, 3, 4? How will the sleeping berths be arranged? There are several layouts that make sleeping 4 possible – for example, you can have a rear dinette with bench seats on each side that converts into a 2-person bed, and a bench seat up front that folds down flat into another 2-person bed. Or, you might want to have just fold-down panels/bunks or folding slats for one or both of the beds, so the beds can be easily stowed or removed.Will you camp in campgrounds, or “dry-camp” in the woods (“boondocking”)? If you’ll be camping in campgrounds or RV parks, you might want AC electrical hookups (for “shore power” provided by the campground or RV park). If you intend to be mostly boondocking, you might want to have a 12-volt DC electrical system powered by solar panels, and run your appliances off the power that provides.How much food storage do you need, both for dry food and refrigerator space?What do you want to use for fuel, especially for cooking and heating? The Mercedes Sprinter is a turbodiesel van, so it uses only diesel (and/or biodiesel) fuel, and it is possible to use a diesel cooktop, and 12-volt diesel-powered air heaters, rather than have a propane system, including a huge propane tank, propane cooktop and propane furnace – this can save you a lot of weight in your conversion.Do you plan to go off-road much, or on rough roads? If so, you should consider changing the stock tires out for some beefier versions with a tread designed for off-road traction. You should also make sure not to have running boards on your conversion, as these will reduce your ground clearance.A small solar system may be more convenient than a generator as backup power. It may also cost less, weigh less, and it’s definitely quieter! One to four solar panels will easily fit on the roof of the Sprinter, and with an RV solar charge controller and some deep-cycle AGM batteries, you have a portable power system that can provide you with plenty of electric power, especially in the sunnier states and provinces.


In its initial form, the 5-cylinder engine developed 109 horsepower. Either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission might be installed. When EuroVan reentered the market in 1999, they were fitted with a 2.8-liter V6 engine, developing 140 horsepower. The V6 gained 61 horsepower in 2001, bringing it up to 201 hp.

Built In: Germany, USA

Drive Wheels: transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Detailed safety information for this generation Volkswagen EuroVan include detailed crash test scores from the NHTSA.



Front Impact, Driver

Front Impact, Passenger

1994 EuroVan



The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests a vehicle's worthiness in front- and side-impact collisions and rates its resistance to rollovers. Front-impact crash-test numbers indicate the chance of serious injury: 5 = 10% or less; 4 = 10-20%; 3 = 20-35%; 2 = 35-45%; 1 = More than 45%. Sideimpact crash-test numbers indicate: 5 = 5% or less; 4 = 6-10%; 3 = 11-20%; 2 = 21-25%; 1 = More than 26%. Rollover resistance numbers indicate the chance for rollover when the vehicle leaves the roadway: 5 = Less than 10%; 4 = 10-20%; 3 = 20-30%; 2 = 30-40%; 1 = More than 40%.

campervan conversion kits

Learn about official auto recalls, reliability issues, and vehicle problems for the 1993-2003 Volkswagen EuroVan directly from the NHTSA and manufacturers.


1993: Connecting ends of fuel feed and return hoses in engine compartment can "settle" over time, which could cause clamps to lose their tight fit and permit fuel seepage.

1993: Improperly installed torsion spring can cause emergency brake to release.

1993: Upper locking bolt holding steering assembly's universal joint can loosen, rendering steering system inoperative.

1997 Camper: During installation of camping equipment on some vans, an improperly adjusted power-tool drill bit punctured the fuel-tank vapor container, which will allow fuel vapors to escape.

2001: Instructions for child-restraint anchorage system are incorrect.

When you’ve made these major decisions, these can lead you to make more choices about the following items of camping equipment that you might want for your Mercedes Sprinter camper van:

Refrigerator (3-way, 2-way, DC-only?)Stove/cooktop (Diesel, propane, magnetic induction?)Air heater (Diesel air heater, propane furnace?)Beds (Bunks, fold-down, pop-top, folding bench seat/sofa bed?)Insulation (Spray foam, fiberglass batts, rigid foam?)Flooring (Hardwood, laminate, vinyl?)RV windows (Fixed, opening with screens & shades, skylights?)Window coverings (Blinds, shades, curtains, stick-on, button-on?)Ventilation (Screened windows, powered fans?)

Hopefully, when all this equipment is installed and your Sprinter camper van is finished, you’ll be more than satisfied with the results. A custom Sprinter RV conversion you built yourself!

Volkswagen Bus

by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide

Browse the article Volkswagen Bus

Introduction to the Volkswagen Bus

The Volkswagen Bus was the first minivan, invented by the same logical minds that brought the world the Volkswagen Beetle. In fact, the Volkswagen Bus was for years really a big, boxy body on a Beetle chassis. The Volkswagen Bus even used the Beetle's air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, and mounted it in the tail, just like the Bug did.

And much like the beloved Beetle, the Volkswagen Bus came to symbolize liberty and unconventionality for a whole generation of Americans.

Variously called the Transporter, Station Wagon, Kombi, and Micro Bus, later the Vanagon and EuroVan, this picture-paced article covers ever version of the Volkswagen Bus, and even looks ahead to the vehicle's future.

So strong was the original 1950 design that it survived until 1967, and by the time Chrysler launched its Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager in 1984, the VW Bus was already into its third generation.

Despite its steady success over the years, the 1990s and 2000s were not kind to the Volkswagen Bus. VW offered it in camper form only through much of the 1990s, and when it brought it back with more power than ever, that version lasted only from 1999 through 2003.

Even the very cool, German-engineered retro Microbus concept that raised hopes in 2001 was shelved. However, the Volkswagen Bus appears on track to return in 2008 using the underpinnings of the latest Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, but with a VW-designed body and interior.

The inaugural Volkswagen Bus was officially called the Transporter or VW Type 2 -- the VW Beetle being the Type 1. The Type 2 was born of VW chief Heinz Nordhoff's growing confidence in the still-young Volkswagen enterprise, which traced its origins to 1930s Nazi Germany, but really didn't begin volume production of customer cars - all Beetle sedans -- until 1947.

Introduction of the convertible version of the Beetle in 1949 showed that Nordoff was amenable to carefully considered variations on VW's one-note Beetle sedan theme. By 1950, Nordhoff had determined that the Volkswagen was healthy enough to support a second model range, and that was the Volkswagen Bus.

Nordhoff took particular pride in the Type 2, noting that it was developed without input from Porsche, the engineering and design firm named after Ferdinand Porsche, the engineer - later of sports-car fame - who designed the original Beetle.

The genesis of the Volkswagen Bus was instead a 1947 pencil sketch by Ben Pon, the importer who introduced the Beetle to the U.S. in 1949.

Numerous commercial versions of the Beetle had already been built, typically by entrepreneurs who cut, chopped, and added to the little Bug to produce a variety of open-bed and station wagon-type delivery vans.

The Type 2, however, was a purpose-built factory design and there was nothing like it on the automotive landscape. Other manufacturers offered various commercial vans, mostly tall bread-truck-like delivery vehicles, but no other maker thought to scale down the design to suit passenger duty.

Go to the next page to learn more about the design of the very first Volkswagen Bus.

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1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus

The story of the 1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus is one of a vehicle that created its own niche. VW had in fact invented a new automotive category that wouldn't have a name until decades later: the minivan.

The 1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus kicked off with a model officially called the Transporter. It debuted in March 1950. It used the Beetle floorpan and 94.5-inch wheelbase, but at 53.5 inches, its track was wider than the sedan's by 2.7 inches in front and a significant 4.3 inches in back.

It retained the Beetle's standard, rear-mounted air-cooled boxer engine and four-speed transaxle, though a steep 5.13:1 final-drive ratio gave it impressive low-gear grunt.

Using reduction gears in the rear wheel hubs provided a full 9.5 inches of ground clearance, which, along with the traction advantages of having the engine over the drive wheels, was an important plus in back-road duty.

At 168.5 inches, its brick-shaped body was 8.5 inches longer than the Beetle's, and it had vastly more interior room than any conventional station wagon. Because the engine was so low and was set so far back, and because the driver sat well forward in a bus-like position, the new Transporter was a very space-efficient machine.

Passenger versions could carry up to nine occupants on three rows of bench seats; there also were enclosed cargo vans, flatbed haulers, double cab pick-ups, mattress-equipped campers, ambulances, and even a dump-truck variant.

The first-generation Volkswagen Bus debuted in Europe with a 25-horsepower Beetle 1200 (1,131-cc) air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine. This Transporter weighed 2,300 pounds (53 percent over the rear wheels) and had a maximum payload capacity of 1,650 pounds.

It was not a fast machine. It never would be, despite increases in engine displacement and horsepower. But it was maneuverable, roomy, reliable, and like all VWs, it was cheap to buy, fuel, and maintain. It was the "people's van."

The Transporter was available in the U.S. shortly after its introduction, but few were imported before 1954. VW offered these early U.S. versions with an engine rated at 30 horsepower at 3400 rpm.

Three models were available: the base Kombi, which was painted blue and retailed for about $2,200; the slightly better-outfitted Micro Bus, which was painted green and started at about $2,365; and the deluxe Micro Bus, which came in red-and-black two-tone and listed for about $2,500.

The deluxe model's body was one inch longer overall than the other models. From the start, VW also offered the camper version with foldout bedding for four, a built-in table and cupboard, window curtains, and an opening roof-panel "transom."

All Transporters had two front doors, a pair of swing-open side doors, and a small tailgate. Intrusive front wheel arches hampered ingress through the front doors, and the tall engine box floor made it difficult to load cargo through the small rear hatch.

But by taking a couple of minutes to remove the middle and rear bench seats, the owner of a passenger model could have 170 cubic feet of cargo room at his or her disposal.

What was it like to drive the 1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus? Find out on the next page.

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Driving the 1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus

Driving the 1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus was a new and unique experience, especially Americans unaccustomed to highly space-efficient and severely underpowered vehicles.

Tom McCahill, dean of American automotive journalists, tested a Kombi for the January 1955 issue of Mechanix Illustrated. "Uncle Tom" was astonished at its spaciousness. "It is as versatile as a steamship con man and twice as useful," he wrote.

McCahill rationalized the Kombi's sloth like acceleration by explaining that it was a vehicle born and bred in Europe, where drivers presumably were accustomed to taking most of a day to drive up a mountain road. "It will climb anything but not fast," he said. "When the grade gets real grim the Kombi speed is not much better than a fast walk but it will get there."

Indeed, Road & Track clocked its 1956 Micro Bus at a sleep-inducing 75 seconds 0-60 mph. That in fact was the test vehicle's top speed, and it actually took less time, 27 seconds, to cover a standing-start quarter-mile.

Curiously, VW placed a sticker on the dashboard that read, "The allowable top speed of this vehicle is 50 miles per hour," though R&T noted that with a tailwind, a Micro Bus was perfectly capable of cruising at 70 mph on a level highway.

The 1956 model was rated at 36 horsepower at 3700 rpm and 56 pounds/feet of torque at 2000. The one tested by R&T weighed 2,300 pounds.

"The Micro Bus is very easy to drive, has wonderful visibility and easy steering requiring only 3.5 turns lock to lock for a 39-foot turning circle," R&T said. A tall center of gravity kept cornering speeds to a minimum, so "handling" wasn't much of an issue.

The bus like driving position was deemed comfortable. Ride quality was firm for occupants of the front seat, which was directly above the front axle, but better in the other seats.

From the start, Transporter campers were recognized as the unique vehicles they were. No other manufacturer offered such a versatile package as part of its regular lineup. Germany's Westfalia Werke did the majority of the factory conversions, with such companies as Dormobile, Devon, and Danbury performing aftermarket work as well.

Motor Trend recognized these special properties as early as October 1956, when it tested a "Volkswagen Kamper." It wrote: "More a way of life than just another car, the VW bus, when completely equipped with the ingenious German-made Kamper kit, can open up new vistas of freedom (or escape) from a humdrum life."

So popular was the Volkswagen Bus -- demand was outstripping production two to one -- that in 1956, VW opened a new factory in Hanover to built it.

Go to the next page to find out what changes VW would make to its popular Transporter.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:

1960-1967 Volkswagen Bus

The 1960-1967 Volkswagen Bus gained new features and more power, and also some competition.

In 1960, the bus got real split front seats to create a narrow aisle that allowed movement though the interior, and front-seat riders began to enter and exit through the side door rather than climbing over those high wheel arches.

By 1961, the 1200 engine had 40 horsepower and VW had some competition. Ford introduced the Econoline, a compact van based on the Falcon platform, and Chevrolet used its air-cooled rear-engine Corvair as the basis for the Greenbrier Sports Wagon.

Car Life magazine compared the VW to these newcomers in its September 1961 issue. It said the VW Station Wagon had far superior build quality than the others inside and out. The VW had better overall handling, too, though it and the Greenbrier, which used a similar swing-axle rear suspension, suffered directional instability in crosswinds.

No rival had more-efficient fresh-air ventilation, but the editors noted that the VW's heating system was "virtually ineffectual. Hot air from the engine cooling fan must travel through long, uninsulated ducts before reaching the driver."

The Transporter averaged 20 mpg, about three mpg more than the others and nearly double the average of full-size automobile station wagons of the day.

The VW weighed 2,310 pounds, yet its 25.6-second time in the quarter-mile was only about a half-second slower than the Chevy's, which had 80 horsepower but weighed 3,560 pounds. The 85-horsepower, 3,230-pound Ford turned a 23.3-second quarter-mile.

The editors did not list a 0-60 mph time for the VW because it would go no faster than 59 mph for them.

VW built the one-millionth Type 2 Volkswagen Bus during 1962. Changes in specification were slow, but for 1963, VW installed the 1500-series engine, which at its most powerful, made 53 horsepower at 4200 rpm in the bus.

For 1967, a dual-circuit braking system was introduced in which front and rear brakes were independently pressurized in case either hydraulic circuit failed. As production approached two million in 1967, VW had a redesigned station wagon ready.

The new 1968 model was obviously a lineal descendent of the original, but also was clearly a more-modern design.

Learn about the second-generation Volkswagen Bus beginning on the next page.

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1968 Volkswagen Bus, The Second Generation

The 1968 Volkswagen Bus, the second generation of VW's versatile people mover was larger, sleeker, and more powerful than its predecessor. It did, however remained based on VW's Beetle, and even retained the little Bug's 94.5-inch wheelbase.

The body of the 1968 Volkswagen Bus grew in length by nearly five inches, to 174 inches overall, and height was up by about one inch, but width, turning circle, and front track hardly changed. Nearly three inches was added to the rear track, however.

Gone was the eight-window design, taking with it the charming available skylights. In its place was a body with three long windows on either side and a one-piece windshield that was 27-percent larger than the two-pane unit it replaced.

Passenger versions dumped the double side doors in favor of an industry first: a single right-side sliding door. Exterior door hinges were gone, so there was less to catch wind and dirt. Sacrificed also was the widow's-peak nose of the first-generation; the new bus had a flatter brow with less character but stronger bumpers and better headlamps.

Interior volume with the rear seats removed expanded by about six cubic feet, fuel capacity was 15.8 gallons, up from 10.6, and curb weight increased by about 400 pounds, to 2,723.

Two passenger models were offered. The Kombi was now the base model and started at $2,211. The base Station Wagon cost $2,495 with seven seats, and $2,517 for the nine-seater.

The basic 1968 Campmobile listed for just $2,110, but for an additional $655, buyers could purchase purpose-designed camping equipment that included bedding and curtains, plus an icebox, stove, and sink with a 4.5-gallon water supply. Adding a pop-up roof cost another $280. The pop-up roof section was much larger than before and was hinged at the front. For $1,075, buyers could get the camping gear, the pop-top, and a custom tent that mated to the sliding-door opening.

Commercial models included panel vans and pick-up trucks with base prices ranging from $2,295 to $2,455.

All second-generation Type 2 models used the latest Beetle's 1600 engine (1,584cc, 96.6 cubic inches), here rated at 57 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 82 pounds/feet of torque at 3000. Horsepower was up over the first-generation, but so was curb weight, so the 1968 Volkswagen Bus really wasn't much faster than the last of the first-generation 1967s.

Zero-60 mph still took about 37 seconds and top speed remained 65 mph. VW calculated fuel consumption with the vehicle traveling at 75 percent of top speed, which worked out to 23 mpg at 53 mph. At 65 mph, where most real-world buses cruised, weather and road conditions permitting, owners saw about 19 mpg.

A four-speed manual with a 5.37:1 final drive ratio remained the sole transmission. Eliminating the wheel-hub reduction gears shed some unsprung weight and along with the new double-jointed rear axle, ball-joint front suspension, and wider track, improved both ride and handling. Some reviewers went so far as to call it car like.

Safety features included a deep-dish steering wheel--now mounted at a less bus like angle--a new padded dashboard, nonreflecting interior surfaces, safety belts for each seat, plus shoulder belts for all outboard positions.

Sales continued strong. The two-millionth Type 2 Volkswagen Bus left VW Hanover's factory in 1968.

Go to the next page to learn about how the Volkswagen Bus continued to evolve, and how it stacked up to a new crop of rivals.

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1969-1971 Volkswagen Bus

By the era of the 1969-1971 Volkswagen Bus, VW's lovable, adaptable rear-engine box had become an iconic on America's highways and in its driveways.

The Volkswagen Bus had gained acceptance among suburban families, car poolers, and of course, counterculture types. The passenger-carrying Station Wagon model of the Volkswagen Bus had long been a favorite of the young and young-at-heart, and "hippy vans" painted up in psychedelic designs were a fixture of the 1960s.

Road Test magazine contrasted the Volkswagen Bus with the era's muscle cars in its review of a 1970 VW Station Wagon model: "[E]scape via a bus is far less expensive and more promising in terms of birds and bees than being encumbered with a bucket-seated, thirsty-engine GTO or Scat-Pack Dodge. Admittedly, however, flower symbols and curtained windows seem to attract the police as readily as racing stripes."

The Volkswagen Bus's stopping ability got a boost for 1971 with the introduction of front discs and a 20-percent increase in the lining thickness of the rear drums. VW also installed a regulator in the rear brake circuit that functioned like an early anti-lock system to help prevent premature wheel locking in hard stops. Wheel width also increased by half-an inch, to 5.5 inches.

By 1971, Detroit had responded to the Volkswagen Bus with a new crop of competitors. Unlike the compact-car based vans that Ford and Chevy offered in the early 1960s, these were true trucks with front-mounted engines and optional V-8s that allowed them to pull heavy trailers.

These American vans the Volkswagen Bus in size and in price. The new Chevrolet Beauville Sportvan, for example, was nearly 17 feet long, had a 250-horsepower 350-cubic-inch V-8, weighed 4,600 pounds, and cost $4,775. A 1971 Volkswagen Bus passenger model with the optional radio and sliding steel sunroof listed for $3,164 and weighed 2,900 pounds.

In its April 1971 issue, Motor Trend compared a Volkswagen Bus Station Wagon model against just such a Sportvan, plus a Dodge Royal Sportsman B300, and a Ford Chateau Club Wagon.

"The Volkswagen Station Wagon came out best in terms of size, finish, quality and ease of handling," the magazine said. "But, for sheer load space, the VW couldn't hope to match the Ford, Dodge or Chevy Vans. VW was also at a distinct power disadvantage, with an engine less than one-third the size of the optional V-8s available in the Detroit-made vans."

But, Motor Trend concluded, "For everyday driving, though, our staff still preferred the VW van over the rest of the group."

So did many buyers, enabling total production of the Volkswagen Bus to hit the three-million mark during 1971.

New features, more power (including a Porsche engine!) were among changes in store for the Volkswagen Bus as the 1970s rolled along. Learn about them beginning on the next page.

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1972-1979 Volkswagen Bus

The 1972-1979 Volkswagen Bus kicked off a four-year advance on the powertrain front, and concluded with VW planning for the third-generation Volkswagen Bus.

The 1972 Volkswagen Bus gained the 1700-series engine from Volkswagen's model-411 passenger car. It had 72 horsepower and cut 0-60 mph times from over 30 seconds to a more-acceptable 22 seconds. Quarter-mile times fell to 23 seconds, and official top speed increased to 75 mph.

For 1973, the Volkswagen Bus was offered for the first time with automatic transmission. It was a $235 option and had three speeds. It was thoughtfully matched to the 1700 engine, maintaining each gear until well up in the rev range and downshifting promptly for good passing response. At about 23.6 seconds 0-60 mph, overall acceleration with automatic transmission was little different from that with the four-speed manual gearbox.

The automatic did not have an overdrive fourth gear, but its 4.45:1 final-drive ratio allowed the engine to turn at about the same rpm on the highway as the 5.37:1 ratio of the manual transmission. Fuel economy was not as good with the automatic, however, and could dip to around 16-17 mph.

The automatic arrived the same year VW stopped listing gross horsepower ratings and, like many manufacturers, switched to net ratings. Gross ratings were taken under optimum laboratory conditions. Net ratings were designed to reflect output with the engine installed in the vehicle and with power-sapping accessories and drive belts in place.

Thus the 1700 was rerated at 63 horsepower at 4800 rpm with manual transmission and at 59 at 4200 with automatic. Automatic-transmission models enjoyed more torque, though, 83 pounds/feet to 81, at the same 3200 rpm, which helped account for their similar acceleration.

The bus regained some of the lost power for 1974. It borrowed the 1.8-liter boxer from Volkswagen's 412 passenger car range and also added electronic fuel injection. Horsepower was now 67, and a manual-transmission van could run 0-60 mph in 20 seconds flat.

The 20-second barrier fell in 1976, when the Volkswagen Bus borrowed yet another engine, this time the 2.0-liter flat-four from the Porsche 914 sports car. Horsepower remained 67 at 4200 rpm, but torque climbed to a relatively robust 101 pounds/feet at 3000. Even with automatic, VW buses could now run 0-60 mph in 19.9 seconds.

Evolution of the second-generation bus slowed dramatically after this. About the only major change was in price, which by 1979, had climbed to $7,595 for the seven-seat model.

Driven by the escalation of the German currency, price increases were helping accelerate a sales decline that had been in progress for several years. VW sold 23,322 buses in the U.S. in 1978, but only 15,990 in 1979.

Worldwide, however, the Volkswagen Bus was still outselling all competitors and the company knew it had to update the design to protect its market share. Discover on the next page how Volkswagen did it.

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1980 Volkswagen Bus: The Vanagon

A new model name debuted with the 1980 Volkswagen Bus: the Vanagon. It graced the third-generation Volkswagen Bus, which ushered in the biggest changes in the big box since the original version of three decades earlier.

Wolfsburg had long been planning the third-generation Volkswagen Bus. It had been considering a dozen proposed configurations, from front-engine/front-wheel drive, to a front-engine/ rear-drive set-up, to a mid-engine/ rear-drive configuration.

In the end, it decided the original rear-engine/rear-drive layout would provide the most-efficient packaging and the best traction. Thus was the layout of the third-generation bus decided. It debuted for 1980, called the Transporter in Europe and the Vanagon in the U.S.

Other than the powertrain arrangement, the Vanagon was a clean-sheet design. It had a new platform, fresh sheetmetal, and a redesigned interior. Wheelbase was stretched 2.4 inches, to 96.8, and the body shell was widened by 3.3 inches.

The platform's floor was lowered by 2.4 inches, the spare tire moved to beneath the nose on a drop-down cradle, and the fuel tank, now at 16 gallons, was relocated to under the front seats. (Oil could be checked and filled from behind the hinged rear license plate cover.)

The suspension was completely new and qualified as a truly all-independent design. In front, trailing arms and torsion bars were discarded in favor of unequal-length A-arms, variable-rate coil springs, tube shocks, and an anti-roll bar.

In back, the torsion bars were banished and replaced by a semi-trailing-arm design with progressive-rate coil springs and tube shocks. The track was wider by 6.9 inches in front and 4.5 inches in the rear.

As before, overseas markets were offered a variety of body styles, including commercial vans and pickup trucks, but Americans got only seven- and nine-seat passenger models, a stripper Kombi with just two front seats, and the Westfalia Camper.

About half of all VW vans were purchased for personal use, so designers concentrated on making the Vanagon user-friendly inside and out.

Overall, there was a 15-percent increase in interior volume. The center aisle between the front seats was wider by 15 percent. The rear floor over the engine box was lowered 7.9 inches, increasing luggage space in the rearmost compartment by 40 percent, to 36.6 cubic feet.

The sliding side door was bigger, the rear hatch increased in size by a full 75 percent, and the rear window was enlarged by 50 percent. Total glass area was up by 22 percent.

The interior featured upscale trim, full carpeting, and door map pockets. The angle of the steering wheel was a little less bus like than before, and the dashboard was as up to date as in most passenger cars.

Heating and fresh-air ventilation were as good as ever with the Vanagon underway, but VW still didn't furnish a fan as standard; buyers had to pay extra for a three-speed blower. A another wise option was the gasoline-fired auxiliary heater, which cost $370.

The body contours were actually less rounded than before, though the windshield had more rake. On the safety front, three inches of sheetmetal had been added ahead of the front wheels to serve as a crush zone. Side-door beams and structural reinforcements satisfied all U.S. safety standards for cars, even though the Vanagon didn't have to meet them because it was classified a truck.

Though the new nose had what looked like a black plastic grille, the Vanagon was the only German-built VW product to retain an air-cooled engine. In the U.S., the only engine was again the all-alloy 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four with electronic fuel injection. It remained at 67 horsepower and 101 pounds/feet of torque.

The standard four-speed manual transmission had a final-drive ratio of 4.57:1, but for the first time it had an 0.88:1 overdrive top gear. A three-speed automatic was optional at about $350 and had a 4.09:1 final drive.

What was this third-generation Volkswagen Bus like from behind it's still quite bus-like wheel? Go to the next page.

For more on new, used, and classic Volkswagens, check out:

In addition to passenger and camper models, the Volkswagen Bus was available in a variety of cargo versions, including this pickup truck.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The 1979 Campmobile listed for nearly $8,000, but featured sleeping space for four, plus a stove, refrigerator, table, closets, and louvered side windows.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The second-generation VW bus introduced to the van world the sliding side door. It was on the right side.

© Vince Manocchi

This VW illustration shows the eight-passenger seating arrangement. Seven seats were standard, and there was a camper model that seated five and slept four.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The second-generation VW Bus retained an upright driving position, but gained some front crush space for better crash protection.

© Vince Manocchi

This is a 1967 base passenger version of the Volkswagen Bus. Called the Kombi model, it cost $2,150 and had 53 horsepower.

© Vince Manocchi

Skylight windows and rollback sunroof were among the most alluring features of early Volkswagen Bus passenger models.

© Vince Manocchi

Early VW Buses, like this 1951 delivery model, were good on bad roads because traction was enhanced by low gearing and weight over the rear wheels.

© Vince Manocchi

Passenger versions of the 1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus could carry up to nine on three rows of seats, as this floor plan shows.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The 1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus borrowed its flat-four air-cooled engine from the Beetle. Early versions had 25 horsepower.

© Vince Manocchi

The earliest Volkswagen Buses won renown as both passenger models and as slow but handy utility vehicles such as this.

© Vince Manocchi

Debuting for 1980, the third-generation Volkswagen Bus was renamed the Vanagon. It retained an air-cooled rear-engine layout but for the first time did not share its chassis with the Beetle.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The 1972-1979 Volkswagen Buses averaged around 70 horsepower, not enough to keep them from feeling slow. That was especially true with heavier versions, such as this 1979 Campmobile model.

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This Titian Red and Cloud White 1970 Station Wagon model retailed for $2,772. Its rear-mounted air-cooled four-cylinder engine had 57 horsepower.

© Vince Manocchi

The second-generation Volkswagen Bus launched for 1968 and lasted through 1971. It retained the Beetle-based chassis, but had a new, larger body.

© Vince Manocchi

This 1963 Deluxe Station Wagon model Volkswagen Bus started at $2,665. It had 50 horsepower.

© Vince Manocchi

A simple layout and a steering-wheel angle that was, well, bus like, greeted early Volkswagen Bus drivers.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The 1950-1959 Volkswagen Bus was basically a big box atop the VW Beetle chassis. Note the rear engine location.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The first Volkswagen Bus, seen here in an early brochure, debuted in 1950 and was called the Transporter, or VW Type 2.

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Gone, finally, was the overt bus-like driving position, but driving the tall, roomy, power-challenged 1980 Volkswagen Bus was still far from a car-like experience.

© Volkswagen of America, Inc.