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Subaru-Powered Volkswagen Vanagon Has the Syncro Charm, Would Make a Fantastic Camper

Most Volkswagen Vanagons still roaming the roads today are great campers, either by nature, being built that way, or by vocation, after being converted. A smaller part of them has kept their original form as a people-carrier. This example we’ve found on Bring a Trailer is in the latter category, also flexing a rare configuration.
1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer 15 photos
1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro on Bring a Trailer
The 4x4 versions of the Vanagon were imported into the U.S. in very small numbers under the Syncro branding. Steyr-Daimler-Puch Works added the four-wheel-drive system in Graz, Austria, and most of the Syncro vans featured the standard 14-inch wheels of the rear-wheel-drive models. Only a handful was built with 16-inch wheels, which can be recognized by the flared fender arches that give the bigger wheels more room. The 16-inch Syncro also had bigger brakes front and rear.

The only thing that the Vanagon Syncro was missing was power. The original 1.9-liter flat-four engine only delivered 76 horsepower, hardly enough for a successful trail adventure. The Syncro made up for the lack of power by using a lower gear dubbed “G” for tackling rough terrain. Creative Vanagon users figured a Subaru boxer engine was perfectly fitted for the van’s engine bay, and a new world opened for the Volkswagen van.

The 2.5-liter flat-four engine delivers double the power of the Vanagon Syncro engine. It offers improved performance, as well as confidence on rough terrain. In the case of this 1987 Vanagon, the engine is mated with an equally brazen Subaru five-speed transmission. The power goes to all four wheels via the Syncro system and a locking rear differential. The van benefitted from enough attention from its owner, who overhauled the chassis and the drivetrain components.

The cabin is simple, featuring a rotating jump seat and a rear lay-flat bench that can be used as a bed. There is no camping equipment, so whoever buys the Vanagon gets the chance to make it their own, starting from a clean shit. This could become a great overland camper with a little effort and a lot of money. Until then, it can be used as a stealth camper, still offering accommodation for two. This Vanagon Syncro is offered on Bring a Trailer now, with three days left to place a bid.

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

 
 
 
 
 

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