Car video reviews:

Subaru Boxer-Swapped VW Van Doesn't Need Exterior Mods to Look Wicked

We live in an era when the idea of camper vans usually appeals, at least stereotypically, to people who are into doomsday prepping and telling their friends about the upcoming apocalypse as its tentative date goes farther and farther back. But before the 2000s, camper vans were downright popular on both sides of the Atlantic.
VW Van 18 photos
VW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW VanVW Van
It just so happens that this 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon camper van is strikingly different than other generic camper vans you're likely to come across. Not for anything about its exterior or interior, but instead, inside the engine bay. Gone is the anemic Volkswagen four-cylinder boxer engine, and a 2.5L flat-four engine from Subaru replaces it.

Cranking out 150 to 160 horsepower depending on conditions may not sound like much. But, it's an improvement one can only appreciate after they've had to drive a stock VW van up a hill even once. The new engine delivers its resources through a four-speed manual transmission, and the gear stick shoots nearly two feet up into the driver's right hand. You simply don't see design choices like this anymore.

Apart from the engine, what we have here is still very much '80s Volkswagen material. The Savannah Beige Metallic paint job is purposefully intended to match the brown exterior that many VW vans of this time frame were finished in. The 14-inch aftermarket wheels look almost factory-original in their current setup, but a lack of the VW logo on the wheel surface is a dead giveaway to the contrary. The interior, too, is a mostly beige affair, with soft-touch velour seats instead of the more common cloth seats found in other cars of the period.

Features consist of a swiveling captain's chair with dual armrests and a pioneer stereo with an MTX brand subwoofer mounted into the base of the rear bench seat arrangement. Moving behind the driver's seat, we find a functional Westfalia two-burner stove, a working refrigerator, a sink, a dinette table, and enough storage space to keep your spice rack inside, plus a few other snacks.

As per the van's online listing, the water tank pump was changed in 2009, and the HVAC system also received repairs at that time. The latest improvement to the interior space came in the form of a new propane tank installed in 2021.

With 108,000 miles (173,089 km) shown at the time of the listing and a fresh powertrain to boot, there's every reason to suspect this Bring a Trailer advertisement by wmonty22 based in Denver, Colorado, drew more than a fair amount of attention during its time on auction. A final sale price of $23,500 on October 31st of this year proved this. Some very nice photos taken in the parking lot of the home stadium of the Denver Broncos only did more to draw a crowd.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories