Volkswagen Camper Van Info Needed : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I am now entertaining the idea of getting a VW camper van...Westphalia or Vanagon or ??? I haven't had a VW since the '70's. Can anyone help me? How many people can it sleep? Bad engine problems? Resale? Pricing? How many people can it carrry when set up for camping? Anything else? I have tried mining the Web, but there's too much esoteric stuff for me to get started. HELP!

Thanks for your anticipated replies.

-- sheepish (, August 28, 2000


I had a pop-up VW camper (Westfalia) for a couple of years. Took a five week trip in it around the U.S. I really wouldn't recommend it. Primary reason is your legs are the first line of defense against a front end collision. Would sleep maybe four in two 3/4rds beds. Propane stove was OK. Had to use blocks of ice in the tiny frig. It was crowded, and I was by myself for all but a couple of days (and if one of you is that young lady bicycle rider who I carried from Oregon to Vancouver, I still fondly remember those days). Can't stand up in it without the top being opened. Jungle gym act to get to the top bunk. If I did it over again, I would look for a small RV. I would also start to worry about parts available and mechanical knowledge for break-downs. As far as I know there is only one place which repairs VWs in all of central TN.

-- Ken S. in TN (, August 28, 2000.


My best friend had two VW vans. Both went up in flames on the side of the road............

-- Mona (, August 28, 2000.

Let's try this again: if you wanted to go camping in a vehicle that WASN'T a VW campervan, what kind would you recommend? LOL

My husband is really stubborn about making ANY transition from our 4 season tent to anything "luxurious" (I love his Scots/Swedish frugality more than my own versions sometimes, but...) Anyway, I thought this VW might be the solution. Hmm...Okay, he's 6'5" and can't stand things around him...he's spatially inept!

Got ideas?

-- sheepish (, August 28, 2000.

6'5" and spatially inept? Sounds like someone I married!! How about a tipi, carried in the campershell of a pickup when not in use? Lots of head room, and the bottom (where things get kicked at) gets further away as it goes down. Or one of those fancy-shmancy jeep tents they're advertising "during the Jeep tent event"? Call a dealer for info and you can probably find similar items used.

In the book Blue Highways (brain dump vis a vis the author), the travelling writer fixes up a vehicle for the journey with (I think) flip down beds and other space saving doo dads. Good read if nothing else. Oh yeah, authors name is (last name) Least Heat Moon.

-- Soni (, August 28, 2000.

sheepish are you looking for what the song calls a vw micro bus sorry just couldn't reset the temptation. gail

-- gail missouri ozarks (, August 28, 2000.

Gail, you devil: is this a Country song?? Help me out here: I don't understand, but I bet it's funny!

-- sheepish (, August 28, 2000.

Sheepish: On the earlier air cooled campers(VW) the heaters suck big time. I'm talking about the regular vehicle heater that you use while driving. On the later ones they're much better because the engines are water cooled. The earlier ones were air cooled. I don't remember when they switched over but the earlier water pumpers engines were problematic as I understand but I think that's been taken care of. I like VW products myself. They're more or less mechanic friendly, and long lived. Living on the west coast I suspect there's lots of nice used ones around and service is readily available. Good Luck!

-- john leake (, August 29, 2000.

We have a nice big tent and all the gadjets that go along with it but it takes too long to set up for a couple of days or. one night stands. We ordered a Lance pickup camper over a month ago and were suppose to take delivery today but the order got screwed up and now it won't be here until Sept 14. We had to order it because we did not want all the frills, I have solar panels for it, (instead of a generator)gas oven instead of a microwave, winter package for cold weather camping, no AC, just a 10 blade fan in a hatch cover. This will be our second Lance, but you do have to have a good pickup for them. We met a couple on the AlCan highway a few years ago who were from Germany, they were driving a VW camper with a diesel engine, it had water tanks mounted on the roof, spare fuel tanks and tires, a little one burner stove and room to sleep. You could tell it was real close living but they were young and on an aroound the world trip. Pickup campers are not especially roomy but they take care of most of one needs, my biggest complaint is they give you a shower and toilet that takes up too much space, a Port-A-Potti would do and you take a shower somewhere else. There are pop up PU campers that have just that set up but they are too compact for me.

-- Hendo (OR) (, August 29, 2000.

The song was "Convoy". We got us a convoy heading through the night... Part of the convoy included eleven Friends of Jesus in a chartruse (spelling?) microbus.

Compromise with your husband and rent an RV for one trip. Some are quite roomy.

-- Ken S. in TN (, August 29, 2000.

Ken, he's leaning that way....John, you're right about them being more available around here...there's almost a cult of VW folk driving these vans.

I had a '66 bug (which was maybe 12 years old at the time...had the 6V system; crummy heater, no back seat and there were times when I had to open my window to "help" the windshield wipers manually! We also had an '80 Rabbit for about 10 years b4 getting the Volvo. I'm actually not that hot on VW products.

I know someone who has a small (I think it's really only 17') motor home (I think by Toyota?). I am going to ask her about it, too.

I love camping in my tent, but I'm thinking about the future a bit! This weekend, we crawled out in the morning feeling like a couple of old dogs...uggghhh...

-- sheepish (, August 29, 2000.

Sheepish, Hubby & I had an old vw van with even the tent that went out side of the doors/ What memories!!!! Her name was "Clamidy Jane" she had a peace sign on the side of her--does that tell ya how long ago? ha We have had tents, vans, campers, trailors, minihomes, motorhomes---but right now we have a pu camper (slide in unit) on a four wheel trailor. We like to be able to run around in the blazer when we set up camp---so we got a nice pu camper (used) that is just the size we needed & liked & hubby mounted it on the 4-wheel trailor-- we use the rest of the trailor for storage as we have a much bigger trailor than the camper is long--I sound like a "girl", describeing it don't I? But I hope you get the picture. My pu camper has furnace, air conditioner, stove, oven, microwave, everything we need & lots of times more than we use! But the cost & insurance & taxes are much less this way also! Sonda in Ks.

-- Sonda (, August 29, 2000.

sheepish i have a 1976 chev.van camper. a merry miler. has a tall top so i can stand up heat,air stool shower ever thing you need. i pull a 14 ft.triler to haul my jerky sellin stuff in also my motorcycle.gets about 10 mpg average. Bob in s.e.ks.

-- Bob Condry (, August 29, 2000.

Hendo, why a Lance, particularly? And how big a pickup? thx

-- sheepish (, August 30, 2000.

what is " roughing it " ??? if you ask my ex-wife, its when the holiday inn does NOT have room service. if you ask my brother in law, its when the holiday inn ice-maker is not working :)

when i was young, i loved to tent camp. nowadays i want a small rv or trailer, with a real mattress and no bugs or creepycrawlies trying to sleep with me

have a great day, everybody gene

-- gene ward (, August 30, 2000.

Gene, LOL!!! Ah yes! The Ice Machine....

In my earlier days, roughing it was forgetting to bring a bivy sack to sleep in. No sleeping bags allowed! Too much weight. Same practically with food...counted calories and brought only what one needed...same with water. Man, I can't believe I used to live like that. I mentioned on an earlier post that I traveled in Europe for a couple of months with a rucksack smaller than I have now for carrying school books. These days I take more luggage for a weekend...

To me now, roughing it is not getting a shower for 10 or so days (like on river trips), but other than that, I still expect to eat well and sleep well. However, I can tell you that sleeping on the ground in a tent....well those days are numbered.

I also think having a van or something will perhaps make it easier to get out on the road faster (maybe not?) because most of the stuff will always be packed and ready to I dreaming???? And maybe we could make the icecubes while we are scootin' down the road!

-- sheepish (, August 30, 2000.

Sheepish -

We have had VW buses for about 9 years, now. The first one, which we paid $150 for, didn't have any amenities other than a bed below and a cot above. It was cramped for the five of us, but we had some pretty good times. You just can't plan on spending a lot of time inside.

About four years ago, we bought Kermit, a 1978 green (ugh!) bus. He's air-cooled, so, true to form, the heater (what's that?) really doesn't do the job, especially since the pop-top gasket is gone so the wind blows in. But he's very reliable, gets about 20 MPG, and will go just about anywhere - good traction and ground clearance, and good torque in the bottom end. Also, surprisingly, a nice, low center of gravity. We slid on ice and hit a curb going sideways at about 20 mph and didn't roll, just bumped up onto the curb. No damage. Boy, was I surprised!

We've been on many road trips lasting several days. We call Kermit a safari vehicle, because, honest, that's what we saw being used in the older National Geographic specials on Africa. An air-cooled VW camper-van. Anyway, Kermit has a pop-top, and sleeps 4 (two couples) comfortably, with a small-child hammock available for a 5th. For general use, though, 2 to 3 would be my preference. Changing clothes is cozy, and mostly done on the honor system, e.g. "I'm naked now, don't look." There's a stove, some cabinetry, a table, and an excellent, though small, icebox. A bag of ice will keep food well chilled for about three days.

Anyway, for ease of driving, convenience in parking, gas mileage and general comfort, I really like an air-cooled VW. I just bring extra sweaters.

-- Laura Jensen (, August 31, 2000.

Hi!!! i'm home i'll tell you we have an old 72 dodge with a 318 and it just runs runs and runs two trips to your area and one too portsmith va. and who knows how many camping trips it's only 18 foot fits in all parking spots i call it my escape pod good luck and gods speed happy birthday Amber!!! I know you'll read this


-- shaun&terri (shaun-terri@juno.con), September 02, 2000.

I have also been thinking about an old VW van. I just like them, and my ex had a bug, so I know about the importance of learning your way around the engine and being to operate at a moment's notice. My concern is being able to get hold of parts. Do they still manufacture spare parts for old VW products and if so how easy are they to get? And how expensive? Or does everything have to be mined from scrapyards? Or are there other alternatives?

And why do VWs seem to overheat so much? I once knew a guy whos carmen ghia burst into f

-- Rhonda Jones (, July 08, 2001.

Old VWs have somewhat of a "cult" following. There are many aftermarker suppliers of new parts, performance parts, and used parts... but they're scattered across the country. I believe there are also magazines devoted entirely to old VWs. I had many bugs, not one caught fire. Unless you are a VW enthusiast, I'd avoid VW vans for camping... they're simply too small. Some of the full size American made conversion vans may be an option... or a small motor home. These American made units are far easier to find parts/service.


-- Max (, July 08, 2001.

We have a 1970 vw bug totally redone------it is sharp!!!!!!!! Been redone inside & out-------it has fiberglass fenders----we have not found it hard to find parts----but we belong to a vw group----from a larger town about an hour from us----& we do bug runs all the time & car shows!!!! We have decided to sell our bug-----not because of it being hard to find parts--or anything else----but we own several cars & trucks & there is only two of us at home anymore-----so we don't need all we have to pay /for taxes /tags & insurance & not have the time anymore to really enjoy it!!!!!There are hundreds of bug clubs across the USA---- and all will put you in contact with someone who has parts----etc------we haven't put out the word yet that we are ready to sell our baby---as she won't last long when we do----as many have tried to buy her over the time we have owned her-----we have had people chase us down & want to know if we would sell her!!!!! It seems lots of people like bugs!!!! I always get lots of people giveing me the peace sign when I drive her---or you can see them playing slug bug inside their own car!!!! ha---

-- Sonda in Ks. (, July 08, 2001.

i have had 7 vw's from bugs to campers 100 engines to the one i have now and it is 2.0 enghine.i'll say buy one and buy a vw book on the type of vw you have ..learn learn as the older one are very very easy to work can pull the engine buy your self and put it back in youself.BUY ONE and you'll be very happy after you get use to itGOOD LUCK MY FRIEND a vw owner and happy with it..

-- everettcoppock (, January 18, 2002.

i have a 77 westphalia, i spent a few bucks on the engine, parts were no problem getting, just dont get any parts from mexico they suck, brazil makes good 6 foot 4 and i dont find it crampped at all. read vw trends and hot vw's those two mags will get you started, if you live in the U,S buy one from canada bc, one U,S $ is worth 1.60, good luck.

-- juan (, February 27, 2002.

hey evryone, me and 3 other friends are planning our gap year and we had a completely mad idea of doing some travelling in a VW campervan! i was just wondering if this is a realy stupid idea and would you recomend a VW campervan or not?

-- nutty student (, March 13, 2002.

I've just had the same idea, I'm actually in the middle of phoning around trying to get insurance for a VW camper. I'm a student hoping to travel as far around Europe as it will take me. And getting insurance for it (in the UK at least) is very hard. Of course, it's a well known fact that any driver under 21 in the UK is satan on wheels therefore has to pay far more than the cost of a new car just to have it covered. But still I try...

-- N Clark (, March 25, 2002.

I hate my 1987 vanagon that threw a rod. my husand likes it. he wants to replace/convert the engine to a subaru. I might consider it if we add a pop top, but can't find any after market conversions for campers. (anyone know of any?)

I want to buy a little RV with a little kitchen and a little shower and a bed or two that will neatly hold me and my dh and my children. I'm tired of spending all day friday getting ready to go camping and all day monday cleaning up afterwards so I just want to have everything intact. An extended cab or crew cab truck with a camper top would make me happy too.

I don't know why my husband likes the darned thing. It's too small, we still have to set up the tent, still have to take the kids to the scary outhouse,- maybe my clue should be that he is happy using our one burner backpacking stove for camping with our little children. :=O

-- kate hallberg (, May 02, 2002.

I use to have a VW van (air cooled) and it was fun but they require a lot of tinkering. They are easy to work on and parts are cheap and plentiful.

My choice is a truck with a cab over camper. When you aren't going camping you can still use the truck as your everyday vehicle.

You can usually find used truck campers for very cheap. I even have a set of plans to build your own cabover camper. I doubt I will ever build one (buying used is less money) but it is fun to just look them over every now and then.

-- sean parker (, May 03, 2002.

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