Subaru Swapped: 1986 Volkswagen Westfalia – SOLD!

Jan 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Free For All Friday

February 10, 2021 Update – we confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

If there’s one vehicle you can be assured an owner will spend far too much money on, it’s any generation of the classic Volkswagen camper van. Vanagons, Eurovans, Westfalias, you name it – the passionate following prompts owners to go to excessive lengths to preserve and enhance their home on wheels. This 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon first appeared in January 2021 on Craigslist in Providence, Rhode Island with a Subaru engine swap, clean interior, and an asking price of $26,000. Comparing this price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller isn’t too far off, with an “Excellent” model valued at $27,600, and a “Good” example rated at $15,600.

There was a time when I would read the listings for various Volkswagen campers and wonder just why the owners were going through such great lengths to either keep the van on the road or enhance it with fairly significant improvements, from Subaru engine transplants like this example to converting a front-driver to four-wheel-drive. Having purchased a 2003 Eurovan in September, I can tell you this: I get it. They are truly impressive vehicles, with incredibly well-thought-out interiors and loads of personality. The Vanagon came to the states with optional four-wheel-drive in addition to the Westfalia camper package, making it an enormously capable vehicle for camping, road trips, and even just in-town errand running.

The description for this particular Vanagon is extensive, with the seller detailing numerous improvements that total up to a likely eye-watering amount. The engine swap is just one line item among numerous others, including a rebuild of the manual transmission, new brakes, new air conditioning system, new shocks, and the whole list of “while you’re in there” improvements that accompanied the Subaru engine transplant. You have to read the description to truly appreciate the scale of work done, as it feels like no stone was left unturned. There is some minor rust repair to address, which is captured in the gallery photos. The seller points to a lifestyle that doesn’t allow for road trips anymore, as free time is devoted to caring for aging parents. A sad tale for sure, but the best part about camper vans like this? The next owner will want to create some memories of their own, ensuring the Vanagon’s history will remain as colorful as ever. Good luck with the purchase if you decide to take this Vanagon home!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1986 Vanagon full camper (86 chassis, 87 grey interior). The van has a Vanaru Subaru engine conversion done professionally in 2016. Tons of upgrades and I have all the receipts from my mechanics, including the engine conversion. I have the title of the van.

Manual transmission.

About the 2016 Subaru engine conversion ($12,000):

– Used 2011 Subaru 2.5 L engine (38,000 miles with power steering pump).
– Vanaru engine system with wiring, exhaust, brackets, shields, air filter, hoses, etc.
– Installation done by Complete Auto Repair & Sales in Virginia with the help of Hans Achter, owner of Vanaru
– New alternator and belt.
– New timing belt and idlers.
– New radiator and hoses.
– New radiator fan switch.
– New oil filter and spark plugs.
– New clutch kit
– 5 gallons of coolant
– New fuel lines
– New speedometer cable

Comes with (2015-2017):

– Transaxel rebuilt by AA in 2016 with new ring and pinion ($3,620).
– New A/C system and hoses ($2,000), installed by Complete Auto Repair & Sales during engine conversion. Works great.
– New ignition coil.
– New starter.
– New tire rods and boots.
– New rear break drums.
– New front brake lines.
– New front shock absorbers.
– New pop top tent.
– New ARB awning
– New auxiliary/house battery installed in 2016.
– New Go Westy awning mounting brackets.
– New Rubbertite matts throughout, grey.
– Radio toggle switch from Go Westy.
– New Blaupunkt pullout radio with bluetooth and mats in excellent shape.
– New Blaupunkt front speakers.
– New sliding windows metal screens.
– Very clean upholstery with NO tears, stains or odors.
– Additional foam pad for pop top mattress.
– New LP- Gas tank with regulator/valves.
– New glove box lock with key.
– New Jack Bombay pop-top shocks, installed.
– New relay and high power headlight kit upgrade from Go Westy.
– New LED Terrapodz DLRs.
– New LEDs for maps lights, overhead dome and camper light.
– New LEDs in odometer and speedometer.
– Frank Condelli VW grill inserts.
– New USB port replacing cigaret lighter.
– New wooden utensil drawer organizer insert from Go Westy.
– 2 New spare ignition switches I had them (just in case!)
– The 2 original swing tables in great shape (front and rear).
– New rear table guide so it won’t wobble.
– New shift lever extension (not installed).
– New stainless steel hardware (bolts for pop top, luggage rack cleats and other).
– Luggage rack drain hole screens.
– New over the sink cutting board from Go Westy.
– New skylight with stainless steel hardware.
– New screen and cover for skylight.
– New skylight seals.
– New pop top latch hardware.
– New aisle trim piece kit from Go Westy, grey.
– 2 extra new wipers.
– New drain cap for for fresh water tank.
– New hoses for fresh water tank.
– New pedal pad.
– New blank VW key (in case you want to make a new copy)
– New telescoping ladder from Go Westy.
– New removable seat covers (front bucket seats and bench). Very clean, no stains or odors.
– Original Westfalia curtain set.
– Original Vanagon manual.
– And lots more in terms of gear (camping hoses for water tank, adapters, pop top cover, etc…)”

Do you have a Volkswagen Vanagon story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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