1985 VW Vanagon Westfalia – Adventure Ready
MANY Mod’s / Love
Up for sale is a pristine 85 water-cooled Vanagon Westfalia which much MUCH love has gone into. Her name is Lacey, a well taken care of VW camper van whom my wife and I have called home for the last year while traveling the country. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to do this and could not have chosen a better vehicle/vessel. As with anything in life, there comes a time for change. At this point, we are looking to purchase a home (the stationary type) and would be using the funds from this sale for that purpose. It’s not been an easy decision to even consider selling this van which has become more like family than a vehicle.
We are the 2nd owner of this amazing machine/vessel/home. She was bone stock when we purchased her from the original owner in Northern VA. Lacey was garage kept for the vast majority of her life and only used for camping trips etc prior to us purchasing in 2016, thus the amazing body/cosmetic condition. There is virtually no rust to be found, a rare find for an east coast Westy. There is the smallest amount on the back window seam which we have since touched up, see photo. All of the major and minor service items have been done by us before & during our year-long adventure. Oil changes have been done every 5K miles using only high-quality Castrol synthetic (per the Bentley manual) and this van has been checked over thoroughly by several master mechanics over the course of our trip (we would have it serviced at local, well reviewed VW specialty shops in intervals during the last year as we traveled). There is one small dent on the rear passenger side corner which has been there since before we purchased the van. It’s very minor and never bothered us enough to warrant fixing. Photos below.
The upgrades/work that has been put into this van are far too much to list every little detail but we will hit the high points and as much as we can remember below. Please note that all of the below have been completed within the last 30K miles or less. We are not kidding when we say this van is Adventure Ready! This list will speak for itself and one would be hard pressed to find a more complete and iconic adventure mobile.
- Van is in near perfect running condition (all things considered for an 85 original vehicle, she has a few of her own ‘charms’ but for all intents and purposes runs perfectly)
- Totally adventure ready with Solar, Battery backup system, All Terrain tires/suspension, beefy RMW bumpers, grill guard, & ladder, ARB Awning/tent room attachment, Yakima Rack/basket system, Premium Audio system, upgraded fridge, new propane tank, thermostat controlled Propex heating system + Much more. Full details below!
- Low 155K original mileage on the motor and body
- Original Waterboxer running perfectly and recently had a major service done at 130K (new head gasket/top end rebuild. Mechanics have told me we will easily get another 100k+ out of this motor)
- New clutch/overhaul, including throw-out bearings, cable, both master & slave cylinder
- New complete Exhaust System (Bus Depot)
- New Steering Rack, seals, and steering fluid flush
- All new German fuel lines and gas tank reseal (no leaks whatsoever/major piece of mind replacement)
- All new shift linkage and gearbox (with extended reach shifter/knob, super cool mod that will save your back on long or stop/go drives)
- There have been a LARGE number of other misc engine upgrades including new starter, alternator, temp sensors (replaced both), new Air flow control unit, replaced all engine grounds, new relays, new German fuel pump/fuel regulator. I have a complete list/spreadsheet & mindmap file I will share to the buyer of all improvements done.
- 2×100 Watt flexible Renogy Solar Panels (custom designed system where you can either mount both panels to the roof or use a long 20ft extension cable to move the panels into a sunny spot while you park the van in the shade. We have been very creative with hanging the flexible panels on the side, front, or back of the van to get the most sun and they store perfectly between the top bunk out of the way when not in use)
- Solar/AC/Battery system wired to 180 amp hour battery backup back. (3 Deep cycle batteries wired together & contained under the front driver seat as well as a custom built box in the rear) (Renogy 20 amp MPPT charge controller which one could add more/bigger panels too if desired, accepts up to 400 Watts)
- 20amp Marine AC battery charger (mounted in the kitchen cabinet, wired to outside AC plug and battery system for shore power/charging batteries)
- 900Watt DC/AC power inverter (mounted behind driver seat)
- GoWesty combiner/isolator Alternator Relay-Solenoid mounted under the front seat. So when the van is running, alternator chargers accessory battery bank AND starter battery. When Key is turned off, accessory batteries are isolated from starter (so you can’t kill your starter battery, even if you drain the accessory. I’ve never once had to jump this van)
- Bigger 17″ Steel wheels and BFGKO2 All terrain tires (approx 50% tread still remaining)
- All new Bilstein re-valved shocks & zero lift springs with 1″ spacers in the rear to adjust for that typical westy rear end sag (actually has just a very slight life from stock)
- Rocky Mountain Westy Front/Rear bumpers (all options w/ D-rings, clevis, and front brush guard) towing package will hold up 500lbs. I’ve hauled small motorcycles on the rear trailer hitch.
- Rocky Mountain Westy Side ladder
- New propane tank and regulator (added T to pipe in Propex heater system, new lines, and fittings)
- Undercarriage mounted Propex heater, thermostat wired and installed in upper cabinetry for convenience. You don’t see many Propex under mountings but this option saves a ton of much-needed space inside the van, super cool option.
- New pop top canvas, with 3 zipper windows opposed to the 1 on stock
- Pop top & luggage rack seals, all new/no leaks. Poptop hydraulic struts for easy lifting
- Yakima 2 bar rack system with roof basket (also has lock/key)
- ROTOPAX – 2×2 gallon white water packs, 1×3 gallon red gasoline pack (custom mounted on the roof rack).
- ARB Awning as well as ARB attachable tent system for an extra room
- South African Grill / Headlight upgrade Kit (H4 bulbs & Includes matching radiator cover)
- Custom Raptor black Undercarriage liner sprayed professionally at an auto body shop and goes around the whole bottom section of the van (gives it a cool 2 toned look as well as some protection from the elements)
- LED lights all around. Blinkers, running, turn signals, & tail lights.
- Truck Mirrors (One of the best mods… now the mirrors no longer move, which happened ALL the time with the stock ones while driving)
- New mud flaps all around (with VW LOGO)
- Custom Window tinting all around. Darker in the rear but not too dark (30% rear, 50% driver/passenger) perfect and essential in my opinion
- collapsible solar shower
- Storage Bags – 1x large black roof bag to fit on roof basket, 1x campervanculture black bag and storage box system for front storage area (this bag is super cool, you can actually get to it when you have the top popped by unzipping the front opening and reaching through to the bag) PLENTY of storage options.
- Custom Interior LED lighting with 3 adjustable dimmer switches. Cabin lighting, floor lighting, and lights in all cabinets
- TF-49 Truck fridge to replace the original not-so-reliable fridge (custom install with extra storage area on top)
- Fridge door relocation mod. Moved door from fridge to back cabinetry, makes it much more easy to get to items in the back closet
- Kenwood/Infinity Audio system (includes, Bluetooth/smart receiver, 4 front/back new speakers, and custom mounted power subwoofer behind passenger seat)
- All electronics wired to the accessory battery bank, new fuse panel added in the cabinet where everything terminates. Blue Seas USB/12v charging outlets throughout
- FatMat sound deadening applied to all door panels and inner walls
- All new ECO insulation (replaced old fiberglass insulation throughout)
- Hardwood floors (beautiful natural finish & custom trim), Premium/heavy-duty black rubber floor mats in front/center console (Go Westy)
- New sliding windows/screens all around
- Includes both adjustable kitchen tables + outdoor cooking stand
- I have all of the window screens to open up the back door, side door, & front windows. You can open it all up and let fresh air in without the bugs!
- Many many homey touches throughout the van (need to experience to really appreciate them all)
- Custom handmade/dyed fabric curtain with magnetic clips for added privacy between cabin and living space.
- Kreztel handmade leather behind-the-seat organizer (EXTREMELY cool and useful, everyone asks me about this)
- magnetic strips/hangers for holding the things you use most
- misc organizers/trays, Paper towel rack, all new curtain clips
- Extra storage space created in the old AC cabinet area above the back seat
These are the main items worth calling out, however, there are many other small touches around the van. I even have spare parts (like belts, sensors, fuel pump, common failure items) & parts I never got around to installing (louder horn, LED instrument cluster lights), as well as specific tools/useful items I am adding along to the purchase. The van also comes with the Bentley manual ($100 Vanagon ‘Bible’ Extremely useful and is always kept in the van).
We literally have everything one needs to live the “van-life” in this vehicle and have used it as such. Under the rear seat where we have the custom box containing the accessory battery, one can perfectly store tools and other useful things. We even store 2 little folding chairs and table along with my entire toolkit. The same toolkit I used for most of the mods you see as well as the engine work will all fit under the rear seat along with extra oil, coolant, and camping accessories (extra lights, heavy-duty AC power cable, expandable hose, and many many misc things). Tools are not included but I will throw in the other mentioned camping accessories.
We mention this space and how it’s packed to highlight that one can travel in this van with everything they need. Not only to live relatively comfortable but to fix something if needed. To be honest I didn’t have to use the tools much while on the road but it was a great piece of mind and super useful for doing regular maintenance and the occasional mod/tweak/upgrade here and there.
These vans and their motors are solid and so easy to work on. That’s one of the pluses of the original waterboxer motor. They are straightforward and designed well. You keep up with the maintenance and they will serve you. We had considered upgrading the motor and I have a ton of information I will share with the next owner if interested on options in that front but we simply couldn’t justify getting rid of a perfectly good motor that has so much life left in it. Every mechanic we worked with totally agreed. The biggest plus of the motor upgrade would be to increase horsepower. Which yes would be nice for hills and highway driving but we never really minded the fact that these vans are slow as is. “Slow Car, Fast House”. You’re not supposed to be in a hurry in one of these. We typically take backroads but she also does just fine on the interstate and while there isn’t all that much power, we climbed countless mountains and backcountry roads in this van No Problem. She just goes and goes! When I mentioned Lacey has her own “charms” before, I feel it’s worth noting and to be as transparent as possible that the only very occasional issue we ever have with this motor is the notorious “Vanagon syndrome”. Which happens in almost any of these waterboxer’s from the 80’s (VW acknowledge this and corrected it within the later models to some degree). Basically what happens is once in a blue moon (I would say no more than a total of 10 times within the last 3 years we’ve owned this van) you will be driving along, usually shortly after you just stopped the van for some time and started again, and it will do this hiccup (they call them highway hiccups) and start to try and stall out. Usually, you just pump the gas pedal a few times and be on your way normal again but if it doesn’t clear itself then I’ll pull over and turn it off, wait a few moments and start it back up. This has always worked and we were back on our again. This issue happens so randomly and infrequently that it is hard to troubleshoot (since you can’t reproduce it, we will literally drive fine for months at a times before it happens again). I’ve had folks look at it in the shop as well as spent MUCH time/cost with replacement parts. At this point, I’ve basically ruled out everything except the fuel computer. I never had a spare to replace when the issue was occurring and I’ve been told that can sometimes be the culprit. Go Westy has been designing a new fule computer system to address just this issue so I have been patiently awaiting that unit to simply upgrade that whole system. It’s going to be a complete kit with everything from the computer to the fuel injectors, harnesses and all. Again this issue is so infrequent and it always clears itself up that we’ve just learned to accept it as part of Lacey’s character 🙂
These vans hold their value well and very sought after. MUCH Much work/love/expense/experience has been put into this van and the price is set accordingly. I am entertaining offers but take in all of what this van has to offer when considering your offer. NO LOW BALLS. I have seen these vans sell for much more than this and not in as good as a condition or with as many extras.
Please feel free to message me with any questions or comments. Or if you’re in the central VA area to come to check her out. Would be happy to talk to you more about this awesome van and share tips from experience.
Pickup/Shipping/Delivery – Buyer is welcome to pick up the van in person or we can plan on a possible meetup location if you are not near VA. I am willing to deliver the van and show you everything about it in person, just cover expenses (mainly gas and some time). It would likely be cheaper than shipping it and probably more safe although there are some good Samba forum posts out there about shipping these vans if you’d rather go that route. Contact me directly and we’ll figure it out. Bottom line, the buyer is responsible for extra costs for shipping/delivery.