Expedition Ready Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro

VW Vanagon Syncro (2)

While I was drooling over the many old Fiats, Lancias, and Alfas at last weekend’s Tutto Italiano car show, it was none of those passionate, oil leaking, firey pieces of awesomeness that caught my heart. Nor was it any of the Ferraris, Lambos, or other, more modern, investment portfolio show-offs. No, it was this VW Vanagon which was quietly making its way through the crowd on its way to the other side of the museum, where there was still some parking space, which became a show of its own.

VW Vanagon Syncro (3)

Just look at it. First of all it was super clean; no dirt, no rust, no dents, no scratches. 


VW Vanagon Syncro (4)

But clearly this was more than just a clean Vanagon. Slightly lifted and on all-terrain tires, it looked just right. Looking closer I saw the ARB-ish (not sure exactly which company made them) bumpers. In the front it had a set of auxiliary lights and in the back there was a tire carrier and a ladder. Easier to miss were the rock-sliders on the side.

VW Vanagon Syncro (5)

 On the roof was a large ARB rack with a Hi-Jack attached to the left side and an awning on the right.

If it was mine I’d ditch the stickers ASAP.

VW Vanagon Syncro (1)

I loved this thing. Inside, where I was expecting to see a refrigerator and perhaps some sliding storage, was nothing. Just two very clean factory front seats and two headrest-less benches; a two and a three passenger ones. 

VW Vanagon Syncro (6)

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not know much about these Vanagons. In fact it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized that Vanagon is a combination of the words wagon and van. How clever. Is that what they were called the world over or is that a U.S. market name?

I wonder what was under the hood… or whatever the rear engine cover thing is called.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

19 responses to “Expedition Ready Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro”

  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    "I wonder what was under the hood… or whatever the rear engine cover thing is called."
    I wonder, too. If it's stock, rock crawling would be okay, since crawl is about all it will do. I do like the wheels.

  2. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Nice example of a nice version of a nice van. As duke says, the stock engines were pretty minimal, even for unladen 2WD versions trying to make forward progress on flat land. Also, pretty expensive as minvans went, even without the breathtaking Westphalia surcharge. This one is so nice, it makes me wonder if it's ever been off road. Lawns don't count…

  3. Wildsau Avatar

    My uncle was very high up at VW before he retired. We took a family road trip from Germany to Moscow in the late 80s, and he had a custom one built. It was a syncro with an upgraded prototype engine (it was a water-cooled boxer 6-cylinder – I can't remember exactly, but I think it had about 150 or 160 horsepower!) and a 5-speed manual. The cool thing was that my uncle had the engine customized so that it would run on alternate fuel sources with the flip of a switch. There was plenty of leaded fuel back then, which is fine, but one time in Romania (in the creepiest part of the Carpathian mountains, may I add), we were forced to run on some kind of kerosene/white gas derivative for about 100 kms. Worked fine. Love these pics – a great reminder of a great vehicle. It got 6 of us through many thousands of kilometres safely and in relative comfort with plenty of space and did a great job in the mud and whenever we headed off the beaten path.

  4. mallthus Avatar

    A high percentage of the really nice T3 Syncros have had either Subaru boxer or TDI swaps at this point. Although the H6 swap provides lots of power, I'm a fan of the TDI. Until quite recently, the T3 was still being made in South Africa and being equipped with the 1.9l TDI. The parts from down there make for a pretty straightforward swap that seriously improves both performance and economy.
    As for name, no, Vanagon is a US only name. The rest of the world knows them as the Transporter. Shorthand for these (based on VW's platform nomenclature) is T3, standing for "T platform", 3rd generation.
    There's a whole cottage industry surrounding the care and restoration of T3 Syncros. Check out this site for a glimpse under the tent. http://volksweb.relitech.com/convert.htm
    Then go to thesamba.com to check out just how spendy these things are when outfitted like this. I'd guess this example, were it for sale, would command close to $50k. Not bad for a 20 year old Volkswagen.
    <img src="http://www.adventure-journal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/syncro02_660.jpg&quot; width="600/">

    1. Fej Avatar

      ONLY $50k? Sounds like a deal

  5. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Looks like an asphalt queen. A really cool asphalt queen, but a queen nonetheless.

  6. krazykarguy Avatar

    I like the MBZ CLK320 wheels – a nice touch.

    1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
      C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

      I KNEW those looked familiar!

  7. monkey_tennis Avatar

    'Vanagon' is not just a combo of 'van' & 'wagon', but a geometry lesson too:
    <img src="http://www.adaptedmind.com/images/geoimages/pentagon_gray.png&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://www.azzionitiles.com/images/uploaded/azzionit_tiles/G-STONE-GREY-EX.jpg&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18s4izxalvpt8jpg/ku-medium.jpg&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://www.analyticpartners.com/media/1814/icon-octagon-grey.png&quot; width="600">

  8. engineerd Avatar

    <img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7409/9458369941_933ccc0327.jpg&quot; width="375" height="500" alt="VW Transporter">
    I saw this the other day in the parking lot at Starbucks and had to get a photo. We don't see too many around here. While the T4 is not nearly as cool as the T3, it was still a rare bird.
    I love the one you found. I'd take it down the Road of Bones.

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      I saw a white one like this just this morning. I almost grabbed my camera, but It's hard to take pictures when you're shifting and trying to turn a corner.

  9. MVEilenstein Avatar

    Hopefully they put the Subaru boxer engine in the back. Otherwise, it will struggle just to maintain highway speed.

  10. Jay_Ramey Avatar

    I wonder if you can stuff a 3.2 liter VR6 out of a T5 Transporter in there…

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I say we find out.

  11. BobWellington Avatar

    It's amazing how much cooler a van can look with off road tires.

  12. engineerd Avatar

    I just remembered this: Drive Nacho Drive. Two people circumnavigating the globe in their Vanagon. Don't blame me when you realize it's 2am and you've been reading their blog.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      Been following that one for the last few months. Good stuff!

  13. joe sambi Avatar
    joe sambi

    Thew bumpers are made by a company out of Colorado called Rocky Mountain Westy. They make a bunch of stuff for the Vanagon market.

  14. Menses Avatar

    Those are bumpers by “Rocky Mountain Westy”, beautiful rig!