Build or Buy: "NevAr Lose" Vanagon

Some of you may have quite a bit of time on your (well-washed) hands now. We hope you’re using this time effectively; like dreaming of bizarro builds. Perhaps something like today’s “Buy” example below: stuff a more modern engine in the back of a Vanagon. Don’t want to buy? Then build one yourself. You’ve got nothing better to do, right? And since it’s big inside, you can technically have a passenger that stays six feet from you. Perfect!

Argument: Buy
Article: 1982 Vanagon 1.8T

The owner of this ’82 Vanagon chose the non-traditional route to add more horsepower. Instead of the typical Subaru swap, a “nevAr lose” 1.8T from a 2004 Jetta was added. Of course, putting in an engine like this was not easy, and the classified ad includes receipts totaling over $19,000. But if you’re paying a shop to do a conversion like this, it ain’t gonna be cheap.

Modifications aren’t limited to the engine. There’s a set of Recaro seats up front, some additional gauges sit where the ashtray used to be, there’s new orange exterior paint, and some nice Mercedes Benz 5-spoke wheels.

If you’re interested in this ’82 Vanagon 1.8T, take a look at the auction on Watch the video on the site: it’s fun to hear the turbocharger whine when the van flies past the camera. This van is in Bellingham, Washington. The current bid is only $1500. The auction ends this Wednesday.

Argument: Build
Article: 1985 Vanagon

Much like T1 Microbusses and T2 Bay-windows, Vanagons are also creeping up in value. So it’s refreshing to find one in decent shape at a low price. And this ’85 looks like the perfect candidate for an unconventional engine swap.

To start, it looks to be rust-free. And the stock engine is giving the owner some trouble, so the price has been lowered to compensate for the issues. But who cares? You’re ditching it anyway, right?

The interior looks complete and pretty clean. We even see an intact middle bench seat. The ad says it will need new tires. But for only $4000, this van is quite a steal. Check out the ad on for more info. This ’85 is in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

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