1987 VW Westfalia Syncro Hightop with 2014 2.0 TDi // PRICE DROP


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Asking $39,990

More photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1aVMsDDT1KM8-gdY_8-9erdeyBb039OBp?usp=sharing

The Good:

VAN: 1987 Factory Diesel Joker Hightop Triple Knob (front locker, rear locker, decoupler) with factory Bonoplex (double pane insulating) windows and Eberspacher diesel heater. This is an extremely rare iteration of the Vanagon, especially in the US/Canada. FACTORY DIESEL, meaning it should be SMOG EXEMPT in California.

ENGINE: 2014 VW CJAA CR TDi with 20k miles on it, installed at 15 degrees by Boxeer (www.boxeer.com). Benefit of this angle is it's the stock angle the engine was originally designed to run, meaning there's no risk of oil starvation like with other company's 50 degree kits running the 1.9, which is known for this.

20-26 mpg (depending on driving speed). New radiator, stainless steel coolant pipes, new Bosch TDi starter, new coolant pump, new fuel pump... everything that can be replaced has been gone through and replaced.

TRANSMISSION: Rebuilt 10k miles ago with new German 5.43 R&P, new German mainshaft, new taller GT Gears 3rd and 4th, oil cooling fins, new bearings and seals. Syncro rev. removed and replaced with 2wd for more reliability (these are known to come apart when mated with TDi engines).
65mph at 2700rpm. 67mph at 3000 rpm. 70 mph at 3200 rpm. I love the gearing and wouldn’t change it.

Brand new decoupler. Brand new driveshaft. Brand new clutch. Trans temp sensor wired to ECU, displays on tablet.

SUSPENSION: Old Man Emu absorbers in the front, Trail Masters in back. Previous owner had this setup when I bought it and I’ve always loved the ride. Lifted a few inches. Looks and drives great. Lots of work done at Peacevans 3k miles ago replacing all front bushings, u-joints, added T3 beefy sway bar end links and new steering rack.

BRAKES: New rear drums and pads. All fully gone through by Peacevans. 20k on Rotors and pads up front. It stops great, but I’d suggest an eventual upgrade to the bigger brake kit up front.

BODY: GW Bumpers front and back with rear hitch mount,
New GW Swing Away system with GW box spare tire
2 diesel Rotopax and 2 water Rotopax
100 Watts of Renogy Solar on roof
High Lift Jack with rear hitch mount adapter--fits over swing aways, easily removable with one 17mm Bolt to open swing aways. I have the GW front bumper mount but haven’t installed it.
Fiama Awning
Custom Surfboard Rack (locking) that folds down over side window for easy loading/unloading.

WHEELS: 4 powder coated CLK rims with 225 75 16 BFG AT K02s, 17k miles on them. New full size BFG spare mounted to GW alloy on back.

INTERIOR: Eurovan front seats, Eurovan steering wheel, birch paneling all around including hightop, Engle Fridge, 12v lighting with dimmers in hightop and for bottom bed. 2 6v 225 amp hr AMG batteries in parallel (so 225 amp hrs at 12v), ProSport 20+ Shore Charger for fast shore charging. Sink and stove function well. 5 gallon propane tank underneath (this thing is huge. I cook everyday and only need to fill up once or twice a year). The propane tank is attached to a special Joker-only unit that has a fill capacity meter, heater to keep propane in gas form when sub zero outside, and a standard outlet for if you want to hook up an external grill or other unit that uses propane. Stock fridge has been removed and replaced with GW fridge delete kit for (a ton of) storage. Custom cabinet removal of the headbanger/ac cabinet and cut-down of the tall cupboard—this creates a clean, flat surface all the way back while still utilizing a ton go storage. Really opens up the interior of the van making it feel much larger (see photos in provided link above). The rest of the interior is left stock Westy. Westy-Lounge kit installed allowing for bench to be comfortably set up in reverse. Great in combination with the cabinet removal. Cork-board headliner installed above lower bed. Recently added a Vanagonlife Locking Center Console with battery kill switch inside. That thing is a dream and has changed my whole driving experience. Stock diesel black rubber floor mat throughout the front—rare. Rocky Mountain Westy drivers-side under-seat locking drawer for passport, paperwork, small camera, sun glasses.

The Bad:
The van is beginning to show rust in the normal spots (seams, windshield), but isn’t bad yet. The underside of the van is surprisingly clean. There were rusty components (controls arms, brakes, shift linkage…) but in the past three years of ownership I’ve replaced or removed and cleaned just about everything under the van. The front brake calipers and behind the fuel tank are the last areas that still have some rust. Chassis is clean. The worst of the rust is on the interior of the trunk hatch around the window. When it rains heavily and the van’s parked at just the right angle, it leaks a bit, but not much (not enough for me to worry about it in the three years of living in it). Before deciding to sell, I was thinking about investing in rust repair and paint, but don’t have the energy and didn’t want a potential buyer to think I was covering anything up. The rear passenger pillar has some small dents in it from the terribly designed swing away system the previous owner had. That’s been replaced with the GW system. The front windshield should eventually be removed and a few rust spots around the seal should be taken care of. None if it is horrible, no holes through the van, but it’s there. Stock speed and rpm gauges don’t work but the Boxeer conversion comes with a wifi module that sends out a signal to a tablet and displays all necessary engine readouts (rpm, coolant temp, trans temp, oil pressure, rail pressure, etc). I used my iPad mini for this, but it will work on any tablet/phone (see pictures in provided link above). I also have a hardline EGT and Boost gauge installed. Blue foil behind the gauges needs to be replaced for dash lights to work. With the tablet setup, I haven't needed the dash lights to work. The auxiliary diesel heater needs the 12v fan motor and muffler cover replaced. The top of the engine comes ever so slightly above the deck lid (about a quarter inch, requiring a hole to be cut in the lid, while maintaining a flat bed). Being a diesel, it smokes a bit on startup in the cold, but quickly goes away.

Otherwise, mechanically, the thing’s looking, feeling and moving pretty damn good.

Comes with a new spare Borg-Warner turbo (I bought an extra after the ptsd of all my past failures on the last engine, but haven’t needed to use it with the new engine), extra clutch disc at 70% ware, full spare front axle assembly, 4 spare cv and boot assemblies, a spare oil pan, a spare transmission main shaft (used but in very good shape) spare fuel filters, spare oil filters As well as an assortment of other small switches, sensors and bushings. All the stuff I was planning on bringing down to South America with me. Well over $2000 worth of parts.

A brief history:

I bought this van three years ago in British Colombia, Canada, imported it to the United States and have lived in it since. When I purchased the van, it had a 1.8 TD AAZ engine that died two days after paying the previous owner. I then put a 2004 1.9 PD TDi into it, which had me bouncing between shops down the west coast trying (unsuccessfully) to solve a series of blown turbos. A very frustrating two years. Eventually, about a year and a half ago, I decided scrap that whole conversion and invest a good chunk of change into a new Boxeer setup utilizing a 2014 VW 2.0 CR TDi engine with only 500 miles on it at the time of install. That was 20k happy miles ago. In the last year of not having to focus on engines and turbos, I’ve been addressing everything else mechanical, preparing to bring the vehicle down to South America. Though, now, I’m burnt out on it and am looking for a change. That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to take this vehicle as it’s now proven quite reliable.

I’ve built this van to be used, not to be a showroom vehicle, so my time and money have mostly been spent on the mechanics of it, and I think my asking price fairly reflects that. I'm well over $70k into this thing but know it'll never go for that (and would feel like a thief if it did). There are more expensive Syncros listed, but I’d wager this van will run smoother and get better fuel milage that anything else on here. I bought this vehicle under the impression of it being a runner only to have the engine completely fail on me two days later and don’t want to pass this vehicle on in the same way. No secrets, no misgivings, full transparency.

Samba build-thread here:

Build Video:

Engine info here:

Asking $39,990

Aidan Klimenko
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When I purchased the van, it had a 1.8 TD AAZ engine that died two days after paying the previous owner.
Lol I've heard so many stories like this with these buses. They're so cool when done right but they HAVE to be done right (like yours is now) or you'll end up spending half your life sitting in a mechanic's lobby. Hopefully someone sees the value in a rig like this that has really been gone through and taken care of.


Active member
I sure do miss my '90 Syncro Westy. Sold that thing WAAAAY too cheaply back in 2005. Had it for 10+ years and about 150,000 miles, two transaxles, 2 VCs, one engine rebuild and a LOT of great memories.

Good luck with the Sale - may all the Syncros live forever!



So if you are living in it what is next if you sell it? Seems like you are so close. What was the breaking point or deciding factor to sell it? What do you figure the items left will amount to money wise and are the parts available, excluding paint? Has the fuel tank and lines been replaced? Any corrosion behind the kitchen?