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1987 Vanagon - ABA Swapped Custom Camper

265000 MILEAGE
Van Camper BODY TYPE
2.0 ABA ENGINE
Automatic TRANSMISSION
Gasoline FUEL

Description:

1987 Volkswagen Bus/Vanagon Wolfsburg

I purchased this van in 2016. It started it’s life as a 1987.5 Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender. This means it had the stock table that pops out of the wall, along with two backward facings jump seats, and the rear Z-bed, along with some creature comforts like A/C, power mirrors and an automatic transmission.
Everything I was looking for in a van.
Over the course of the last 3 years I have done everything I could to turn it into the “perfect” camping ride for my growing family. Below is a list and timetable ALL upgrades, but here is the overview of the major items…
1. Refurbished and installed CHC pop-top with brand new canvas
2. Installed fully rebuilt 2.0 ABA motor - less than 5k miles on motor
3. Rebuilt automatic transmission with Audi 5000 4 planet internals
- less than 1k miles on transmission
Chasis has around 265k miles on it.
What you are getting with this van is a reliable, purpose built camping vehicle. Bear in mind it is NOT a show vehicle, and it IS still 30 years old.
I LOVE this van, but it has become harder to camp in with our growing family. Only reason for selling.
CLEAN TITLE IN HAND
The long version…
The New
Mechanical:
  • Fuel Lines Replaced - 2017
  • 2.0 ABA installed - 2018 (more on this)
  • Transmission rebuilt - 2018 (more on this)
  • ATF Cooler
  • Rebuilt torque convert - 2018
  • Fuel tank reseal - 2019
  • Upper ball joints - 2019
  • Oil change - every 3k miles at the most. 1k on current change.

Cosmetic / Function:
  • CHC top installed (brand new canvas) - 2017
  • Custom built full length roof rack for CHC top
- Great for paddle boards. I’ve had 70lb worth up there and the roof handled it. Of course I wouldn’t LIFT the roof with that kind of weight on it.
  • Smittybuilt Front Basket
    - Awesome for firewood, camping chairs, etc.
  • LED Fog Lights
    - Great for cutting through / below actual fog
  • LED Spot lights (roof rack)
    - Great for long distance site on forest roads or really dark highways
  • Wood Flooring
    - Laminate wood
  • Wood Door Panels
    - 3mm ply - stained and sealed
  • New thick insulation added to rear slider and rear hatch
  • Sound deadening in trunk area (would install more under rear bench if I were keeping it)
  • Kumho 14x27.5 off road tires (more on these below)
  • Full set of black out curtains (custom made with snaps)
  • Front and rear trailer hitches (both 2”)
    - Rear wired for towing
  • Passenger side swivel seat installed
  • Removed passenger side jump seat (holes are still there if desired)
  • CD player with USB and aux input
  • Yakima Shady Boy Awning
2.0 ABA Swap + 268 cam
While researching different motor swaps, I stumbled upon the 2.0 ABA. For a variety of reasons, I decided this was the swap for me. Here are a few of them…
1. It’s VW
2. The power feels right. More than stock, but not enough to kill the transmission
3. Affordable / easy to repair / replacement parts. You could literally replace the entire engine for about $300 from a junk yard. No joke.
I started with an OBDI ABA from a 1995 Cabriot. I then tore it down and rebuilt it from the bottom up. I have a VERY detailed list of EVERY part that I purchased and replaced if you’re interested. In the bottom end I replaced every bearing, the piston rings, and re-honed the cylinders. In the top end I replaced the hydraulic lifters and installed a 268 cam (ecu is chipped to match). Engine should be pushing around 130hp, and gets about 17mpg around town, and closer to 20 at reasonable highway speeds.
Wiring harness built be reputable harness builder.
The motor is installed at 50 degree’s with custom built carrier bars which means I didn’t have to raise the deck lid. Therefor the z-bed still functions like stock.
Transmission
After 250k miles, the automatic transmission finally went out. After doing my research I learned of the Audi 5000 4 planet upgrade. High level, I took the guts from an Audi 5000 transmission, replaced every replaceable part, and then installed them in the Vanagon transmission. What this does is creates a STRONGER, longer lasting, fully rebuilt version of the Vanagon transmission. I can provide more details upon request.
The “not-so-new”:
Were I to keep this vehicle, here are the items I would replace next in order of priority (your priorities might be different :)
Note: If I were to do all of this before selling, I definitely would not be selling it for it's current price.
1. Springs / Shocks
2. Bushings associated with suspension
3. Tires
4. Plastic coolant lines
5. Paint / body work
Springs/Shocks
The van is currently running on the stock shocks and springs from a Westy full camper (slight lifts). I can tell that they are getting tired, and if I were to keep the van I would replace them all around. The tires have some cupping which I’ll talk about in a minute which I suspect is due to the springs and shocks being warn out. I would go with something that would lift the vehicle a little more personally.
Bushings
While upgrading suspensions, it’s always a good idea to do these at the same time. They’re 30 years old.
Tires
The Khumo tires are not terribly old, but as I mentioned above they have not worn well. If I were to keep the van, I would upgrade to a 15 or 16” wheel and get a different tire. These still have life in them, but because of the “cupping” they have a low speed vibration which is pretty annoying.
Coolant Lines
Still running the stock plastic lines the length of the vehicle. I think replacing them with the stainless pipes is a good idea. Just not something I got it.
Paint / Body Work
I planned on doing this every year since I’ve owned the vehicle. However it always slips down the priority list behind mechanical upgrades. You can see in the photos that the paint, especially on the right side is not in great shape. It looks like somebody did a cheap spray OVER the stock paint, and it’s starting to peel. A few dents I would repair, but nothing too major.
I would also inspect the seams for rust while doing the paint and body work. There are some signs that there might be minor seam rust in a few spots.
NO rust on the sub-floor (checked when I installed the wood floor) or on the frame.
A/C
This van is fully equipped for A/C, although I have never used it and not set it up. I installed a A/C compressor on the ABA motor, and all of the plumbing is still there, I just have not hooked it up, charged it, etc. A/C was not important to me, but I thought it might be for the future owner. Only reason I left it all intact.
Other
The horn doesn't work. I started trouble shooting it, but it just hasn't been a priority.
Right side mirror needs new glass. I might get to this before it sells.
Rear hatch struts are getting tired. Hatch stays up, but slowly lowers.

Features:

Item location:Hood River, Oregon, United States
VIN:WV2YB0256HH058747
Year:1987
Mileage:265000
Make:Volkswagen
Model:Bus/Vanagon
SubModel:Weekender
Type:Van Camper
Trim:Wolfsburg
Color:Gray
Interior color:Gray
Engine:2.0 ABA
Cylinders:4
Fuel:Gasoline
Transmission:Automatic
Drive type:RWD
Drive side:Left-hand drive
Vehicle Title:Clean