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  #1  
Old 06-07-2004, 02:13 PM
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Anybody into VW's?

I though I'd just see if anyone here has much experience working on early Volkswagens. Specifically, I looked at a '74 Vanagon last week. It's an automatic, and it ran well but the problem is that the transmission doesn't shift into top gear. Wolfgang (the name of the guy selling it, believe it or not) said he didn't know what the problem was and wasn't enough interested in the vehicle anymore to fix it. I don't know a lot about automatic transmissions and nothing in particular about VW's.
The vehicle itself is in pretty good shape. It's a camper van with the pop-up top and everything. I didn't see any rust, the paint is decent for the age (I assume it's original), and the top looked ok but could use cosmetic work. It seemed, overall, to be in good original condition.
So basically, it looked promising to me. He's asking $400, and I see that vans like these can pull a couple $1000 on eBay. Is it worth taking a chance on being able to fix the transmission? Is it worth bothering with?
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  #2  
Old 06-07-2004, 03:22 PM
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Wouldn't bother fixing the tranny...they are inexpensive to purchase as rebuilds.

And in the air-cooled VW world, these are more commonly known as "transaxles", due to the differential gears being integrated into the case...an essential design due to the tight confines of the whole drivetrain.

If I recall, they weren't REAL automatics, but manuals with a hydraulic clutch.

I haven't been on top of the VW world lately, but I remember a tranny shop in CA that advertised regularly in Hot VWs and VW Trends magazines that offered rebuilds...they even did a variety of custom gear swaps to accommodate highway driving (as opposed to the dreaded high-rpm droning at 60mph)...

The transaxle swap isn't were your expenses will go...its the million or so aged rubber seals that will set you back a few dineros! You've got a ton of window glass on the Vanagon...or ANY of the VW Bus models except the delivery versions...
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  #3  
Old 06-07-2004, 05:48 PM
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I agree with the "toy car" thing to a certain entent. But it is kind of hard to knock them too much when you consider that people have been able to put all kinds of miles on them simply because they were cheap and simple enough to keep going. I really like the Ford vans we've had, the big and heavy means you can do a lot more, but you do pay for the gas and nobody ever calls them cute. I guess I can see how people are attracted to them, but that only goes so far with me on a vehicle that has no AC, poor heat, fergedaboutit crashworthiness, and can hardly maintain highway speed.
So for sure I'm not planning on buying this to keep. I'm just wondering if there's much possibility that I could put in the $400, spend a few hundred more, and turn around and get some profit out of it all.
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Once and future king:
'64 Ford Fairlane w/approx 238,000 - looks rough, but amazingly reliable if you know how to look after it; I will soon begin work to totally restore and modernize it.
Family vehicles that I lay some claim to:
'78 300D w/approx 350,000 original, '62 Ford F100 4x4, '90 Ford E150 w/171,000 original
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  #4  
Old 06-07-2004, 06:53 PM
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I can only assume you're speaking of an h20cooled '84 Vanagon, as the '74 was a second generation type II bus w/aircooled 2.0 liter engine. I've heard that the automatics were actually quite robust in both the buses and Vanagons, but they sapped both power and fuel mileage. You could probably find a good used tranny for a couple hundred bucks. Most of the older low budget buses/Vanagons have other problems due to age and neglect, so don't plan on getting away with just the trans.

As for Vanagons, I prefer '86 and later with the 2.1 liter engine vs. the earlier '80-'82 w/2.0 liter aircooled or '83-'85 w/1.9 liter h20cooled. I had an '88 Vanagon that was just about the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned. Sold it to my brother inlaw, who is still tickled pink with it.
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  #5  
Old 06-08-2004, 03:29 PM
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Well, I was probably in error when I referred to it as a "Vanagon," because it is a '74. It looked well-maintained, although I didn't do a thurough inspection. It wasn't a beater, that much I am sure of, although even cars that are kept up can often have a pile of little things you could pour money into if you were inclined. All I would look to do with it is to fix or replace the transaxle, make sure everything mechanical is in good running order, do some cosmetic work, and put it up on eBay. As far as restoration goes, I'd let somebody else do that; I've already got more fish than pans to fry them in.
So, I'll maybe take another look, see what I can find for parts, and go from there. How's this sound, "For Sale: Wolfgang's VW camper van"
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Once and future king:
'64 Ford Fairlane w/approx 238,000 - looks rough, but amazingly reliable if you know how to look after it; I will soon begin work to totally restore and modernize it.
Family vehicles that I lay some claim to:
'78 300D w/approx 350,000 original, '62 Ford F100 4x4, '90 Ford E150 w/171,000 original
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  #6  
Old 06-08-2004, 07:30 PM
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If the body is OK sounds like a deal to me. Parts are everywhere for those things. Don't be afraid, if you buy it as is and don't touch it you could probably dump it easy and get your money back.
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