Travolta, the 1982 Volkswagen Diesel Vanagon Westfalia

The van has been sold

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You can click on any image to get the full size picture. 

Quick facts

  • VIN:  WV2ZG0255CH081984
  • located in Austin, TX
  • MY 1982
  • Color: Ivory / Brown
  • spent all its life in nice weather: CA, AZ and TX
  • Engine Upgrade: 1.9l turbo diesel (AAZ engine from a 96 Golf), AHU Crankshaft upgrade, Rebuilt IP and injectors (by Giles), new fuel lines, 90 AMP alternator, new starter
  • Manual Transmission Upgrade (DK transmission)
  • new upgraded cooling system and oil cooler
  • 5k miles on the tires (Hankook RA08 185R14C - correct load rating for the Vanagon)
  • ~189k miles on the body
  • ~165k miles on the engine
  • new custom cabinets, rebuilt rear bench & upholstery, newer front seats
  • Insulation & Sound barrier: Fatmat, EZ Cool and Mass loaded vinyl
  • Limo tinted windows
  • replaced Pop top tent
  • Onboard Charger, Inverter & deep cycle house battery
  • LT Style mirrors
The Van is ready for travel and I would not hesitate to drive it from coast to coast tomorrow. Keep in mind that this Vanagon was built when there was still a nationwide 55 mph speed limit on all highways. Don't expect to keep up with traffic on a 85 mph Interstates uphill. Between 60 and 65 mph is a comfortable cruising speed for this Vanagon on flat highways - You can go faster but it's not good for the engine and the transmission long term. The AAZ engine has 75 horsepower - with the rebuilt Giles IP it should have some more but I asked Giles to optimize more for fuel economy than power. The AAZ engine can be tuned quite a bit: You could add an Intercooler and increase the boost and you should be able to increase the power to 100 hp. Another simple fix for going faster or increase fuel economy is increasing the tire size. I'm running the original 14 inch wheels - you could replace those with 16 inch.

I'm asking $15000. Including the purchase price I've invested much more into Travolta and I'm only counting the parts, not any labor.

What's still on the to do list for the next owner:
  • Front end bushings - it's time to do those soon
  • front rotors - there's some vibration when braking. I would recommend to replace (or have them turned) the front rotors. Brake power is fine (for a car of that age)
  • Paint Job & some minor body work - the original paint is pretty rough. That was on the bottom of my to do list and the upside is in the current state you don't have to worry about any scratches
  • window seals - especially the front driver and passenger window seals are probably original.
  • Original Clock in the dash doesn't work - I planned to replace the clock with a diesel tach so I didn't even try to fix the clock.
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Below is a list of things I did since I've bought the van. 


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  • new Pop Up tent. Replaced the original one with the version from Busdepot/Justkampers. After four years of camping there's a small tear in the back.
  • Tinted windows in the back. Limo tint on all windows in the back - no need for curtains during the day and keeps the inside temperatures down in summer.
  • luggage rack painted & new hardware. 
  • painted pop top. All shiny now with marine paint. I park the van in the garage and the garage door header gasket scratches a bit in the back - so needs a touch up there.
  • new skylight hardware
  • fake Yakima rain gutters for roof rack.
  • LT Style mirrors. Nice upgrade compared to the original side mirrors. Better visibility and they hold up to the wind :)


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  • rebuilt rear & front brakes. All new brake hardware in the back and pads front and back. Rotors need to be replaced soon.
  • new rear CV joints & axles (EMPI). 
  • replaced rubber rear & front brake lines - also replaced brake fluid.
  • new master & slave clutch cylinder
  • new front shock absorbers with Monroe Shocks.
  • new coil over rear shock absorbers - nice upgrade to the weaker original shocks and the back of the Van is now where it should be :)
  • upgraded shifter hardware.
  • replaced upper & lower ball joints
  • new tie rod ends
  • new steering rack boots
  • repacked front wheel bearings

Engine & Fuel Injection

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  • resealed fuel tank & new fuel lines from tank to filter. Cleaned the tank and painted with truck bed liner.
  • upgrade to 1.9l turbo diesel engine (AAZ engine code). Originally, Travolta came with the 1.6 NA diesel (no turbo! ~45 hp) which made driving the Van on an highway really a challenge. The upgrade with an 1.9l turbo diesel out of an 96 Golf changed the driving characteristics completely. You can now keep up with the rest of the traffic in the city :) As mentioned above - it's still a 33 year old car, so don't expect speed records.
  • new Crankshaft pulley & bolt, harmonic balancer, tensioner, new timing & serp belt, new water pump, new oil pump - all moving parts replaced while I had the engine out of the Van.
  • new exhaust. I wouldn't consider myself a welding pro but I'm happy with the result.
  • EGR sensor & gauge: In my opinion next to the oil pressure gauge the second most important gauge you need to have in a diesel Vanagon. Helps you to manage your driving style going uphill when the exhaust temperatures can go up pretty quick if you simply floor the gas pedal. From what I've read 1200F is ok to have for a certain amount of time but I'll tried to keep it under 1000F all the time. Normal EGR on flat roads is more in the 450F to 500F range.
  • Upgrade Cranknose to TDI pulley (AHU Engine). The AAZ engine is notorious for shearing off the cranknose key. The later AHU engine has an upgraded shape which eliminates this problem. I had the crankshaft upgraded to the later style and installed the TDI crankshaft pulley.
  • new radiator, cooling hoses and coolant tank: upgraded to a late Vanagon radiator which has a much better cooling capacity. Temp switch was replaced as well. I drove the Van in 105F and that was the first and only time the radiator fan came on.
  • external oil cooler - helps keeping the oil temperatures down to around 220F. In the AAX I ran only synthetic 5W-40 oil (Rotella T6) which can handle higher oil temps.
  • new Sachs Clutch while I had the engine and transmission out of the car.
  • new transmission to bellhousing gasket and flange gaskets
  • replaced radiator baffles with the Gowesty Product.
  • rebuilt Giles IP and injectors: The original Injection Pump was leaking so I sent it together with the Injectors to Giles Diesel Performance in Canada to have them rebuilt. 
  • Upgraded Glow plug wiring: Separate wires and fuses to each glow plug and a relay to reduce the amperage going through the firewall and the fuse block.
Here's a video of the engine running. It starts right up (after the glow plugs did their job) and runs smoothly.


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  • new horn
  • deep cycle house battery. All interior lights and 12 V sockets and the inverter are powered by this house battery - no risk of being stuck in the morning because you drained your starter battery during the night :)
  • installed battery separator. This clever device makes sure that both batteries are charged but disconnects the starter battery once you start draining the house battery.
  • charger & inverter: charge your batteries when plugged in into shore power or run 120 V devices without having shore power.
  • rebuild heater box: Cleaned the mess and replaced all gaskets. One thing to note: I've removed the original heater valve that directs the hot water from the engine to the heater core with a simple hose bib ball valve. Upside: Never get hot feet anymore because even a replacement of the original valve doesn't close properly in summer. Downside: You have to open the glove box and reach to the ball valve to start or stop heating - nothing I would recommend while driving.
  • Upgraded front speakers & radio.
  • new Bosch 90 AMP alternator with clutched pulley to charge both the starter and house battery.
  • upgraded interior lights (LED) over the kitchen cabinet and in front with two separate lights for driver and passenger.
  • installed five 12V sockets to charge all your phones and whatnot. Two in the dash, two behind the driver seat and one in the rear bench next to the 120 V outlet.
  • Gauges for Oil pressure, Oil temperature and EGR temperature on the dash. Another one for house and starter battery voltage below in the air duct.
  • SPOT Satellite tracker  (we have to figure out if I can transfer the tracker to the new owner - if not you have to use your own if you want your van tracked)
  • new brake light switches


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  • insulation & sound barrier. I removed the complete interior and installed FatMat as a sound barrier and EZCool as Insulation - The original fiberglass insulation is gone!
  • replaced wood panels with ABS
  • replaced front seats with newer captain chairs from a early 90's Vanagon
  • new upholstery for rear bench
  • new carpet from Sewfine. in the front. Vinyl flooring in the back.

  • rebuilt rear bench: complete new wood/laminate and Z-Bed hardware from a 90's Vanagon.
  • new custom cabinets: there's no built-in stove or water tank anymore. It's now more like a weekender with more storage but no table :). I didn't like the original Westfalia cabinet setup (waste of space and very limited visibility while driving) and don't like the idea of doing dishes or cooking inside the Van. Also the original cabinets were in bad shape.
  • wheel skin for steering wheel
  • 3 point seat belts for rear bench - From a late 90's Jetta. Upgraded safety for the passengers in the back.

I took a lot of photos to document the progress - you can find them in my Flickr album for the Vanagon. They are sorted from newest to oldest.

Stuff that comes with the Van

The next owner will find these in the van as well:
  • Two Bentley manuals: One for the van that covers all vans and another one that I've bought for the AAZ engine. The Bentley is THE bible for Vanagon owners.
  • GoWesty Rainfly
  • Vanagon Car Jack
  • Rear hatch mosquito screen
  • Fire extinguisher installed behind the driver seat.

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