1980 VW Westfalia Vanagon - needs engine work

Price: US $7,000.00 Item location: Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States
  • Condition: Used
  • Make: Volkswagen
  • Model: Bus/Vanagon
  • Type: Van Camper
  • Year: 1980
  • Mileage: 87,790
  • VIN: 25A0109707
  • Color: Yellow
  • Engine size: 75 Bus
  • Number of cylinders: 4
  • Fuel: Gasoline
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Drive type: RWD
  • Interior color: Brown
  • Drive side: Left-hand drive
  • Options: CD Player
  • Vehicle Title: Clear
  • Want to buy? Contact seller!

1980 Volkswagen Bus/Vanagon

I bought this as a restoration project before two kids came along, and after a few years of work and close to ten thousand dollars put into it (I have receipts), I just don't have the time to give her the attention she deserves for the remaining work that needs to be done. My pain is your gain. This is a really great-looking camper inside and out that just needs someone to take the baton and finish out the punch list, at the top of which is the engine. It starts and runs, but dies when it gets up to temperature and has trouble restarting. As always with these rigs, I'm sure it's something simple but I don't have the time right now to chase it down. Search for it on the Seattle CL for more pictures. I'm very much open to offers. I'll respond to all offers through email, but I'll choose the highest offer at the very end of the listing out of those who have made contact with me and are confirmed as still interested.

Brand new tires all around. Rims are in great shape.
Refurbished gas tank lines.
Complete new $2,000 brake job - discs, pads, cables, the whole enchilada.
Starting chain: Brand new custom gear-reduction starter from GoWesty - $300. Super strong cranking power - and also included is the original Bosch starter (which still works).
New battery and alternator - and comes with extra deep-cycle battery and brand new inverter unit to wire up as an aux battery behind the driver's seat. When I bought this there was a current leak in the alternator, necessitating a constant connection to a battery charger. Put in a new alternator and it now holds a charge forever. Also new fuel and oil filters, spark plugs and fuel injectors.
Kitchen: Sink and stove both work great and shine like new. Pretty sure the fridge doesn't work - I haven't tested all three modes of operation - DC/AC/propane. This hasn't been a focus because honestly, the stock fridge is ridiculously too small for camping. It's more of a novelty. I'm including the fridge's technical repair manual as reproduced and sold by GoWesty if you want to tackle this. Could be something simple or just user error.
Interior adds: Replaced the main carpeted floor in front of the kitchen with laminate wood flooring which is much easier to clean. Also from GoWesty: new interior front door grab handles, interior rear view mirror, driver's side rear view mirror, rear hatch struts.Gutted the interior cabinets/kitchen unit and replaced all the peeling white-paper paneling (also yours if you want it as a future template) with flexible wood-grain paneling. Comes with all the original curtains, even the mosquito net for the rear hatch which is in amazingly perfect shape. New seat covers on the front seats. Upholstery on rear seat/bed and upper bunk is in almost new condition - no visible rips/stains.
Stereo: New Sony 4-speaker stereo with remote control (volume up from the campfire?), USB power output and aux input for your iPhone tunes. Still have the old radio if you want it as well.
Engine: this came to me with a '75 Bus engine installed. The miles on that are unknown as are the total miles on the Westy itself, as the odometer needs a new white gear on the main spindle. It currently reads 87,790 miles, same as when I bought it a few years ago in Oregon. I've put maybe 500 miles on it. It's recently developed an intermittent starting and dying problem. You will need to tow this home and troubleshoot the issue. It needs either a patient mechanic's support or a new engine. Again - I'm considering all offers.
Accessories: ORIGINAL owner's manuals and paperwork, including John Muir's "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive" and 3-inch thick Bentley technician's manual for the 1980 Vanagon. Brand new fresh water hose for campsite water hookup. Tow strap (never used!). Tow ball and hitch. Oil filter wrench and funnel, 5-gallon emergency gas can.

The Punch List: At the end of the day this is a 38-year-old car with a 43-year-old engine, so the laws of thermodynamics are working against us. I've put about $9,000 into it not counting my time, so if you're passionate about these rigs you've got a huge head start on making it really awesome and probably worth a lot more. I'm taking a huge loss on it but the wife wants it gone and I just don't have time to work on it with a 5-year-old and 2-year-old and a stay-at-home mom who needs a break on weekends. One thing I forgot to mention in the ad is that I had Peace Vans in Seattle put a new clutch in. It was impossible to shift and now it shifts easily. Going clockwise around the camper:

Windshield has a ding and a crack of about 8 inches in the bottom middle. I got a quote of about $200 from a auto glass shop to replace it.
Windshield wipers/fluid sprayer not working – might just be a fuse but I haven’t taken the ten seconds to check it out!
Right-side mirror needs the tension bolt tightened just a smidge so it stays in position. No big deal.
I never got the key to the locking gas cap, but of course it’s unlocked.
Main sliding door needs to be greased and there’s one inside part of the door that’s starting to protrude and rub on the exterior body when you close it, which makes opening/closing sticky. I’m guessing it’s an easy fix (like a loose nut) but I just haven’t checked it out. Also, that door has a different lock and I never got the key to that. But it's no big deal to just unlock the front passenger door and reach around to the interior lock.
Wouldn’t hurt to replace the rear hatch seal to keep fumes out, but it’s okay. Just a minor tear.
Rear hatch window seal is leaking and some rust is developing. Classic problem that’s another DIY project.
Small dent on the rear hatch body panel.
Pictures show that the rear bumper is obviously not the original – but other than its brutishness it will definitely keep you and the camper okay in a rear-ender!
Could definitely use a new muffler at some point. The current one isn’t attached as tight as it should be due to rusty u-bolts, so the gas doesn’t fully burn off going downhill and you get a little bit of backfiring when coasting. Not bad though.
Driver’s side middle window seal is also leaking.
Utility hookups – I don’t have the key for the exterior water fillup and the other water attachment has a leak. So the whole kitchen assembly needs to be pulled out and the hose and fillup replaced. But you can easily fill the water tank from the inside/top with a hose and then run the sink no problem. This is definitely DIY, but there are quite a few steps – all in the Bentley manual that’s included. I pulled it all out when I replaced the interior paneling. Electrical attachment works fine. You can get the whole triple pack of attachments with the new cover plates for about $130 from GoWesty.
Broken odometer – needs the little white gear on the main spindle. If you can find somebody to sell you this part it would be really cheap. Otherwise you can usually find the whole odometer for a couple hundred bucks.
Emergency brake light doesn’t come on when the key's on and the emergency brake handle is pulled up. Either the switch, wiring or light bulb. Should be a pretty easy mini-project.
Gas gauge doesn’t go all the way up to full when you fill it up. Combined with the odometer issue, you really need to pay attention to your gas. I believe the issue is with the gauge itself because the paperwork from Peace Vans says they replaced the sending unit when I had them work on the gas tank lines.
Right-side passenger window is pretty hard to crank. This is typical for the car. May just need grease in the roller assembly. Otherwise a new roller assembly can be had for about $175 I believe.
Needs a new right-side passenger window crank (the plastic knob is broken off).
I’ve put seat covers on for good reason. The driver’s seat is torn up pretty bad. Passenger seat is much better.
Tent canvas – the door and its zipper are in pretty rough shape. One of the very next things I wanted to do was follow the instructions for taking the top off and the tent out, using it as a pattern and just buying some new fabric and sewing up a replacement. But you can also buy them new for about $400 from GoWesty. This will really add a lot of resale value down the road.
Heat – this might be a biggie, might not. The stock ’75 Bus engine had a blower unit that sat on top and pushed air through the heat exchangers. Inside the Vanagon engine compartment, there’s not enough room for it. So one of the prior owners disconnected the heating ducts. I reconnected them and also replaced a missing section of duct. But it still needs some kind of 12V blower to be put into the engine compartment and get wired up to a switch in the cab. The other issue is that the right-side flapper cable, which opens the right flapper to let the engine heat into the duct, is bound up and either needs to be pulled out and cleaned or just replaced. For now I just used zipties to keep them permanently open. I think those cables are about $70 (you just need one) – another mini-project and I've seen instructions online on how to do it.
A couple minor interior light issues - the dome light above the driver’s seat. Seems like one of the three switch settings should make it turn on when you open the door and off when you close it. But two settings are just on all the time and the third is off all the time. Probably a bad door switch or the wiring to it is my best guess. Also there's a light in the bed area that looks like somebody added and the wiring for it ends - unattached - in the engine compartment. That just needs to find a 12V home.
Please let me know if you have any other questions!