My wife and I started to camp out at VW shows in 2001. The first couple of shows we went to, we went along with some friends of ours who had a Vanagon. They had installed a weekender interior in it and we a little jealous of their instant shelter, especially the time it rained the whole weekend.
Fast forward several shows and camping trips later... Spring 2005 we were at bug-a-paluza and saw a pretty nice westy in the car corral for about $2500, auto tranny needed work. It was the later styling and the same color as my Jetta... but the timing wasn't right, and my family already had a history of bum vw auto trannys and didn't need another... but a seed was planted. Man, it would be neat to have one of those. My neighbor who was at the show with us mentioned his coworker had one for sale.. but we really had too many projects going on.
Over the summer I got a bit more involved with R/C airplanes... We got Kellie's Jetta wagon to suit both the kid and airplane hauling requirements and to help out with camping... In short, the Jetta isn't as big as one might think. With the rear seats down my 70" airplane wing didn't lay flat, and the 54" fuseloge barely fit. Forget about getting two planes in there... I started to take my Jetta to the airplane field instead, packing the plane with the passenger front seat removed and the wing suspended by the grab handles. Sometime during the summer my neighbor mentioned th van again, but I was more focused on airplane stuff and didn't have the extra money.
I started to ponder getting a rabbit pickup. My brother had one of those when I was 16. You could fit a full size refrigerator in the back, or a bobcat bucket full of manure... a diesel would get great gas mileage, and the airplanes would fit nicely... camping stuff too. I put out a couple of feelers for a rabbit truck. I threw in that I would consider a vanagon too, maybe even a diesel to make it a grease car. I really doubted I would find a diesel truck in my price range, they usually bring in too much money. I had a couple of hits on vanagons, but wasn't really impressed with what I found. I was discussing the situation with Kellie and I remembered the van my neighbor mentioned... She suggested the camper would be great for trips, especially since we were heavily rained out the last time we went camping and was offering full support of the project.
I went over to my neighbor's house to ask him about it. The next day I got a couple of pics via email from when the van was offered for sale on Ebay, and the text describing it. Definitely interested, I called the owner and discussed it with him. He's had it for abotu 10 years or so... it was running and driving fine but developed a coolant leak and he wasn't comfortable working on the watercooled engine and parked it 4 years ago. He would occasionally start it, but it had pretty much been sitting idle for the past 2 years. We pretty much discussed everything that was wrong with it, and its failure to sell at reserve on ebay. He had decided that he probably wasn't going to get around to getting it back on the road, and was willing to part company. He was going to be out of town for a while so I had to wait several weeks to check it out.
In that time I immersed myself online researcing all things vanagon and westfalia. I hit the forums and the online stores and read everything I could get my eyes on. A couple of weeks later I found out that the owner was going to move the van from his son's house where it was parked (over an hour away) to his house to make it easier for me to check it out and get it home. The way from his sons house to his house happened to be a road less than a half a mile from our house, so we met at a church parking lot on that road and I checked the van out as he gave me the deluxe tour. Everything was as he said it was, though a mouse had gotten into the poptop canvas while it was sitting. Since Kellie was at home with a sleeping baby, I had to make the decision by myself. (it wasn't difffucult to do) So, he brought it over to our house and we unloaded it off the trailer with some help from my neighbor.
and that my friends, is how you wind up with a westy in your driveway.
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