Pros: Sweet room! Over 200 cubic feet of space with the seats out.
Cons: Crappy fuel mileage. Lacks power on steep hills. Some parts are not available.
I had to revise my thoughts on this frustrating van.
I bought my 84 Vanagon with 177,000km on it. It was a mechanics disaster. After pouring lots of $$$ into it because the previous owner just put gas in it, it ran great. Problems that were noted: 3 fuel leaks, 4 coolant leaks (includes blown rad). All the hoses were original, so if you buy one, replace them all with new ones. Blowing a hose on a trip can stop you cold. I never had the pleasure of replacing the head gasket. That is a $2500CDN bill. If that did happen, I would have brought it to the junk yard. Also numerous $500CDN repairs at different times.
TIPS FOR TRIPS: Make sure you have extra money on hand. Also extra coolant from a VW/Audi dealership (coolant is blue in colour)-mix 50/50 all year around. Don't use the green stuff. Also have 2 or 3 rad caps on hand and a alternator belt. Oil is a good idea too.
I recently sold the van and went back to A VW Car. I have never had any problems with the 14 cars I have owned by VW. This van was insane. When I turned the key, I never knew if I was going to get where I was going.
My van did not burn much oil. That was a plus. I can say it did not leak oil or coolant unless a hose or the rad blew. It hesitated and bogged down going up hills at times. I tried injector cleaners, fuel filters etc. Nothing worked. The 1.9L motor still ran strong, but it worked like hell going up hill. Being a water cooled motor, you run the risk of blowing old or new hoses. The coolant system is only under 20psi of pressure, so I could not understand why hoses would blow at random. The fuel mileage and power are sad. You would be better off getting a Chev or Ford van with a 350/351 because the Vanagon sucks fuel as much as they do, but you will enjoy the power out of the Chev or Ford.
I will never be seen in one of these again. Since the new owner has bought it, it has had 4 breakdowns. I have spent over $3000CDN on repairs, the previous owner over $2500CDN and the new owner over $1500CDN. Now that is no reliable van. Basicly it sucked. Beware of the money pit!