VW Camper Family

A camping forum for VW bus and camper owners.

Greetings!

My wife and I are in the market for a VW Camper.  We're weighing the pros and cons of older (more classic look) vs. newer (maybe more practical?).

I'm certain this is probably an old and frequent question, so I thank anyone in advance for being willing to offer any advice on this, point us to some prior posts we can read, other resources, etc.

Also wondering if there is anyone on this forum in the greater St. Louis area?  We live just across the river in Edwardsville, IL.

Kind regards,

Keith

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The AC is operated by the engine, so it's only for when you're driving. There are AC units you can buy that fit in the passenger window (only while camping not driving), and you must have shore power for that. There are heaters you can buy $$$$ that run on propane or diesel and use the Aux. battery for the blower and they are all the rage. I know the person personally that sells them, he lives in MD. They are just like the heaters in an RV, only smaller. They fit under the back seat and have a controler that mounts on the closet. They use outside air for the combustion and also exshaust outside and recirculate the inside air through the heater. They are called Propex Heaters, you can also look them up on line. Here is the ULR, http://westyventures.com/propex.html . I think power steering came out in 84. Mine doesn't have PS, or AC, just a few less things to worry about. If I was near you guys I would talk to her class, but living in Oregon it's a bit far. Thank you wife for helping people understand each other. I know that is a very stressful job, she needs to go camping.

Gary Marrs

Gary, my wife was really touched by your comment.  ;-)  She's a real "salt of the earth" sort, and loves what she does... has the right combination of compassion and being tough as nails to do this sort of work.  So thanks for that!  And yes, camping would be great... she loves the outdoors!

Follow-up question:  So the a/c that runs while the van is running/driving:  That can be an add-on that fits in a storage space?

This is somewhat important to me, because in addition to some of the reasons you suggest thinking in terms of a wedge for camping, one of the other reasons I'm in that "camp" too, is that I think a/c might be important to us, both while driving, and while camping... It gets pretty hot in the St. Louis area, and although it wouldn't be that hard to avoid the hottest 6-8 weeks of the year, even before and after those weeks it can be uncomfortable for a time.  And this is something that I might want to drive around town during the hotter (and colder) months so it doesn't sit for several months at a time.

The heater that you mention:  Is that just for camping, or can it also augment the heat from the air cooled engine while driving, as I recall from owning an old Beetle that the heat was pretty poor in the winter.

I'm just trying to nail down these final issues so that when we choose it will be for all the right reasons... If an "aftermarket" solution exists for heating and cooling (both while driving and while camping) that at least removes those concerns.  Sounds like there are options for this...

Thanks again, Gary,

Keith

The AC in the vanagon is a "comes from the factory", not an add on. The main part of it is located over the bed in the back. It takes up the space were if you didn't have the AC would be another cabinet, which I have. Finding a vanagon without the AC is harder to find, and you shouldn't have a problem finding one with the AC. If you check the interior pictures of the vans you will see it. There will be no door for the cabinet and you will see the vents for the AC. The unit I was talking about for camping with shore power in something you have to buy seperate. Here is a discussion that was on The Samba, http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=546789 . It shows pictures and people are talking about the portable AC unit. The propex type heaters can be used driving or camping. They do not need the engine to operate, just 12 VDC. I have seen them in use and know several people who have them and they love them, you don't have to get up to turn it on, just reach over and set the thermostat where you want it and wait until it warms up to get up. Myself I carry two heaters with me, as I don't have a propex, a small electric heater for when I have shore power and a Mr. Buddy Heater for when I don't have shore power.http://www.mrheater.com/ProductFamily.aspx?catid=41. The middle one is the best for the VW Camper. 4000-9000 BTU. These are safe for indoor use and run off the small propane canisters or you can hook them up to a large bottle.  Lots of us have these, we camp year around up here in PNW, nothing stops us. If you have any other questions don't be affaid to ask, if I don't have the answer, I'll find it. It looks like our wifes are somewhat the same type of person, Lucky Us !!!

Gary Marrs

Thanks so much, Gary... This helps answer a lot of questions for me that I've been pondering.

Here's an interesting development:  Our daughter and her boyfriend live in San Diego, and she lives around the corner from a guy who has refurbished and sold a few VW's.  She sent me pics of two he recently had for sale, an old bay (1970, I believe), and a 1968 splitty that looked like new from the one pic from her cell phone... I called him because my daughter and her boyfriend have talked with him on a few occasions and he seems like a nice guy... and they thought his two vehicles might still be for sale.  They aren't.  He told me he sold the splitty for $17,500, which seems really low.  He says he's starting up some sort of store front business and won't be refurbishing VW's anymore, but has a 1968 Splitty that he says is his daily driver... says he'd drive it anywhere.  He wasn't planning on selling it, according to what he said, but might be willing to part with it.  (I think he's likely needing capital for his new business venture.)  He's going to send me some pics... said he'd take $17,000 for it.... states it is in excellent condition, no rust anywhere, new tires, runs at 70mph, and that at most all it would need is fresh paint if one was so inclined.  He's already ordered a new canvas for the pop top which is on the way.  It's the camper setup with no stove... but has sink and icebox.

Although this is a real departure from anything I've seriously been considering, if it's what he says it is, isn't that a steal?  He's got some stuff in it and wants to clean it up, and so says to give him a week to send pics.  The good news, too, is that I can have my daughter and her boyfriend have it checked out for me if the deal looks good.  Am I now being crazy??  ;-)  This does fit with our hope to find something that we can love and pamper for many years to come.  On the other hand...??

And yes, I'd say we are indeed lucky!

Best,

Keith

To start with, the 68 can't be a splitty, they ended in 67, and the Bay's started in 68. So if it is a 68 it would have to be a Bay. If it is in really great shape, it would be worth the asking price, I paid that for my 70. But it was in great shape and had a brand new engine, a 1776 CC with dual weber 44's, which is to say it's got two 2's, which is basically like having 4 carbs. Even with that I had to replace the floor and side panel and redo the wood ceiling. A stock 68 isn't going to cruise at 70 mph down the highway all day, and you wouldn't really want to, so he must have something else in it, and there's nothing bad about that.  The older bays didn't have a stove, and had an icebox not a fridge. The mid year bays have a stove, but an icebox. The newer bays have a stove and fridge, but the fridge only runs on 12 vdc or 110 vac., and you can't run it on 12 vdc while camping, only while you are driving, it'll kill the battery in about 1 hr or less once you stop. Generally speaking all the VW Campers are underpowered, you will have to down shift while pulling a grade even with the auto tranny, you should down shift into 2nd under 50 mph and try and maintain it around 45 mph. This is something you just have to get used to and getting there is just as much fun as being there. That is of course unless you want to put in a subaru or bostic or other conversion which is major $$$$. I know lots of people who have done this and they are very happy with the results, myself my vanagon has a GoWesty 2.2 and has severed me well, but is still underpowered, but I'm in no hurry. You have to learn how to drive and care for these things, they become your "Baby" and babies need special care, and the older they are the more babying they need. In "my" opinion they are worth it. The splitties are smaller inside than the Bay's and the Bay's are smaller inside than vanagons, as well as useablity and the driving goes about the same, not to say it's all that bad, it's like other car's, they get better with time and better design. Would I like a splittty ?? OH YEAH !! I would love to drive one around and baby it, but once again $$$, and if I did that I would have to start thinking about some kind of VW rehab, as I also have new Beetle. The engines in the splitties and early bays have solid lifters and you must adjust them every 3,000 miles, you can shift them over to electronic ignition to get away from the points. Also the splitties' pop up is a small square in the middle of the van, no hammock or bed, just able to stand up inside. The old bays have a hammock the newer ones and vanagons have a double bed. The Bays and Splitties also have a hammock that fits over the front seats for  a child, which also is great for the dog. I made one for the vanagon for just that. So......... once again it's going to come down to what you and your wife want, different strokes for different folks they are all good, it's just what you want. If you can find a local campout or some kind or vw show, go, you will find that VW Camper people are very friendly and would just love to show you their Buses, and talk about them and their adventures in them. Look at all the different ones and don't rush into picking one until you check out all different types, unless you just have one those instant bondings.

Gary Marrs

Keith my friend, Don't over think this!! If you like it and you think that it will fill some of your needs I think this could be a great deal! My repair guy has one sitting in the shop that needs a lot of work and he gets offers of $20,000 all day long. San Diego and Southeren California is where many of the buses seem to be and the climent is good for keeping them in good shape. The split windows are very cool and sought after. Having a stove inside is nice but a camp stove works great you just have to get up and out to make coffee in the morning. To be honest, the ice boxes in my opinion are better then the  electric fridges and from what I've seen have more room. I took my fridge out because it was really to small and convereted it to storage. The older ones are not as confortable but you are not required to die in the thing, just enjoy it and if it's not what you want get something else. I think you can't go wrong on this if it's nice the price is right for sure and they are very cool looking! As they said in the bus movie, they have a real nice rear end!! Besides you would get to come pick it up and see yout daughter enjoy "84 and sunny" the theme in San Diego but once you come to Cali, bus a VW bus, and sit on the beach, you may not want to go back!!     

You guys are all the greatest!  Thanks a million for the sound data, advice, thoughts on options, etc.  I can't tell you all how much I appreciate it... 

Below is the one he recently sold for $17,500.  I must have misspoken about the year.  The one that he is thinking about selling that is his current daily driver is a 1967... he said it's really a nice one, except might need paint... 

My daughter's boyfriend (hopefully future son-in-law!) is going over there shortly to talk with this guy and take some pics of his current one... I'll send them along when I get them.

And yes, always love a reason to go see our daughter Ali, and her bf Joe!  Ali's studying for the CA bar right now, and could use a little propping up!  ;-)

Thanks so very much,

Keith

Hmmm... the pic didn't load, even though it was in the body of my reply before I hit "send..." I'll work with it a bit.

k


Keith Byler said:

You guys are all the greatest!  Thanks a million for the sound data, advice, thoughts on options, etc.  I can't tell you all how much I appreciate it... 

Below is the one he recently sold for $17,500.  I must have misspoken about the year.  The one that he is thinking about selling that is his current daily driver is a 1967... he said it's really a nice one, except might need paint... 

My daughter's boyfriend (hopefully future son-in-law!) is going over there shortly to talk with this guy and take some pics of his current one... I'll send them along when I get them.

And yes, always love a reason to go see our daughter Ali, and her bf Joe!  Ali's studying for the CA bar right now, and could use a little propping up!  ;-)

Thanks so very much,

Keith



Keith Byler said:

Hmmm... the pic didn't load, even though it was in the body of my reply before I hit "send..." I'll work with it a bit.

k


Keith Byler said:

You guys are all the greatest!  Thanks a million for the sound data, advice, thoughts on options, etc.  I can't tell you all how much I appreciate it... 

Below is the one he recently sold for $17,500.  I must have misspoken about the year.  The one that he is thinking about selling that is his current daily driver is a 1967... he said it's really a nice one, except might need paint... 

My daughter's boyfriend (hopefully future son-in-law!) is going over there shortly to talk with this guy and take some pics of his current one... I'll send them along when I get them.

And yes, always love a reason to go see our daughter Ali, and her bf Joe!  Ali's studying for the CA bar right now, and could use a little propping up!  ;-)

Thanks so very much,

Keith

Attachments:

Was able to attach above... I'll send more of the one for sale now when I get them...

So, here's an update:

The weird news:  Went to see a 1976 bay this evening... looked sweet in the advertisement on a classic cars site... Got there, no battery, so unable to start it, lots of rust (not mentioned), interior fair to poor, and the pop-top canvas looked like orange pantyhose with runners... at a classic car dealership.  Definitely a fixer upper with potential, but at $9995, decided to pass.  Was still a nice day... road trip. nice lunch at an out of town find, time with Dear Wife.  No worries.

The maybe better news:  We're thinking seriously about this one:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=1386036

Interesting (and sad) history:  Nice lady in Dayton has this for sale... She and her husband bought it in Sept. 2010 (third owners).... and he died in March 2011.  They hadn't used it much, and since he died it's pretty much sat in her driveway, although she says a friend would come over and drive it a few miles a couple times a year just to keep things going.  Last time it was driven: Sept. 2012.  I asked her if she'd be willing to take it to a shop to at least have the belts looked at, tires aired properly, maybe have them give it a once over to see if it is roadworthy for a six hour trip back home... She gladly did so, put a new battery and belts on it, and they told her it was good to go.

She doesn't know a lot about the van, because it was her late husband's thing, but she thinks everything works well.  No A/C.  States pop-top and everything else is fine... no rust.  "About 88,000 miles..."  Odometer quit work at 80K, but they were able to piece together from prior titles, other info, etc., that it should have about 8K more miles than when it stopped working.

She advertised at $11,000, which I gather is what her husband paid for it.  I asked her her bottom price, telling her if we came to terms I'd bring her a bank check for the agreed upon amount with no further haggling, assuming no major deviations in person from phone, ad, etc.  She replied she'd like to get $10K from it, but would take $9,500.  I didn't negotiate further at that point, but didn't agree to her price, either.  (When I have to drive 11 hours round trip for something, I like to have the haggling done on the phone, and then you get there, if no major deviations, I bring whatever it is home with no further haggling... I'm not that great a negotiator in situations such as this, anyway, although my wife is... <s>.

This nice lady also offered to put me in touch with the gentleman she and her husband bought it from, who was aware after the sale that her husband had died, and has been very kind to her with answering needed questions since then, etc.  He agreed to correspond with me by email, so I've emailed him some questions.

Well, that's all the news that's fit to print!  I'll keep y'all posted, and if you have any thoughts/comments re. the above, let me know...

And one more thing:  I emailed a gentleman last week sometime who has a Splittie for sale.. 1965... Needs quite a bit of cosmetic work, but he says it runs strong and is willing to drive it here from Colorado... I had decided to pass on it, but mentioned to him my 1956 Airstream ( which is really in fine 95% restored  shape)... and at the time he passed on the offer for a possible trade, but tonight wrote asking me to send him pictures... So who knows??  I could find myself with two VW's... Doubtful, but not totally out of the realm of possibility... I'd have my brother-in-law do the work on the Splittie... He's a good mechanic, and a pretty good body man on his own stuff... Restored the body and painted his vintage pickup truck as well as his dune buggy, and both actually turned out really fine.  He works pretty cheap on the side, especially if it's not something with time constraints tied to it.

Anyway, thanks!

Keith

I'm thinking you made a good decision about that 76 Bay. Sounds like it would have been nothing but work and money. That 85 in Ohio sounds like a good deal. At $9500 and only 88K on it, well that is rare, this could be it. And in my opinion that fact that it doesn't have AC is a plus. One less thing to worry about and more storage, which really comes in handy as you will find out. The odometer can be replaced, and it's pretty easy. I would go and look at this one and take a check with you.

Gary Marrs

Keith Byler said:

So, here's an update:

The weird news:  Went to see a 1976 bay this evening... looked sweet in the advertisement on a classic cars site... Got there, no battery, so unable to start it, lots of rust (not mentioned), interior fair to poor, and the pop-top canvas looked like orange pantyhose with runners... at a classic car dealership.  Definitely a fixer upper with potential, but at $9995, decided to pass.  Was still a nice day... road trip. nice lunch at an out of town find, time with Dear Wife.  No worries.

The maybe better news:  We're thinking seriously about this one:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=1386036

Interesting (and sad) history:  Nice lady in Dayton has this for sale... She and her husband bought it in Sept. 2010 (third owners).... and he died in March 2011.  They hadn't used it much, and since he died it's pretty much sat in her driveway, although she says a friend would come over and drive it a few miles a couple times a year just to keep things going.  Last time it was driven: Sept. 2012.  I asked her if she'd be willing to take it to a shop to at least have the belts looked at, tires aired properly, maybe have them give it a once over to see if it is roadworthy for a six hour trip back home... She gladly did so, put a new battery and belts on it, and they told her it was good to go.

She doesn't know a lot about the van, because it was her late husband's thing, but she thinks everything works well.  No A/C.  States pop-top and everything else is fine... no rust.  "About 88,000 miles..."  Odometer quit work at 80K, but they were able to piece together from prior titles, other info, etc., that it should have about 8K more miles than when it stopped working.

She advertised at $11,000, which I gather is what her husband paid for it.  I asked her her bottom price, telling her if we came to terms I'd bring her a bank check for the agreed upon amount with no further haggling, assuming no major deviations in person from phone, ad, etc.  She replied she'd like to get $10K from it, but would take $9,500.  I didn't negotiate further at that point, but didn't agree to her price, either.  (When I have to drive 11 hours round trip for something, I like to have the haggling done on the phone, and then you get there, if no major deviations, I bring whatever it is home with no further haggling... I'm not that great a negotiator in situations such as this, anyway, although my wife is... <s>.

This nice lady also offered to put me in touch with the gentleman she and her husband bought it from, who was aware after the sale that her husband had died, and has been very kind to her with answering needed questions since then, etc.  He agreed to correspond with me by email, so I've emailed him some questions.

Well, that's all the news that's fit to print!  I'll keep y'all posted, and if you have any thoughts/comments re. the above, let me know...

And one more thing:  I emailed a gentleman last week sometime who has a Splittie for sale.. 1965... Needs quite a bit of cosmetic work, but he says it runs strong and is willing to drive it here from Colorado... I had decided to pass on it, but mentioned to him my 1956 Airstream ( which is really in fine 95% restored  shape)... and at the time he passed on the offer for a possible trade, but tonight wrote asking me to send him pictures... So who knows??  I could find myself with two VW's... Doubtful, but not totally out of the realm of possibility... I'd have my brother-in-law do the work on the Splittie... He's a good mechanic, and a pretty good body man on his own stuff... Restored the body and painted his vintage pickup truck as well as his dune buggy, and both actually turned out really fine.  He works pretty cheap on the side, especially if it's not something with time constraints tied to it.

Anyway, thanks!

Keith

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