La Aduana: 1991 Turbo Diesel Syncro Doka

Few vehicles are as iconic or sought after as the VW van. Regardless of the year, body style, or drive train, the Bus and Vanagon platforms have been the gleaming symbols of wanderlust for generations, and will likely continue to be for generations to come. Unfortunately, solid running examples have become difficult to find, which means that they’ve also become increasingly expensive. Syncros in particular have reached exorbitant prices in the U.S. market, fetching as much as $100,000 in the right configurations, but there are still a few deals to be had. Take this this left-hand drive 1991 Doka for example. It has low miles, the larger turbo Diesel engine, and was owned by none other than Bruce Elfstrom of Overland Experts. The best part though is that it can be yours for just $26,000, so let’s get to the fleisch und kartoffeln (meat and potatoes) of the matter.

This 1991 VW Doka has 57,925 kilometers on the clock and was imported from Lithuania in 2017. Bruce made sure to mention that it is hard to confirm any official odometer readings with these older vehicles because people change the dashboards, but based on its condition I wouldn’t be surprised if its true mileage is indeed that low.

What we do know for sure is that this Doka is registered in Connecticut with 100 percent legal U.S. documentation and is ready to be titled in any state you wish. It also received a 1.9 TDI VW diesel engine about 5 years ago, which replaced its slower and less efficient 1.6 non-turbo motor. Bruce commented that it has LOADS of power, and it’s the best driving syncro he has ever had. 

It’s no slouch off-road either. Full skid plates have been installed underneath, reaching from the front bumper back past the motor, and the previous owner lifted the van with new springs and shocks. The five 235/75-15 Contyre Expedition tires are in decent shape with plenty of tread, but are loud. Fortunately, the owner is willing to swap them for a new set of BFG All Terrains at a discount should the buyer want to exchange them.

Of course, a VW wouldn’t be complete without loads of stickers, right? Bruce isn’t exactly a fan, but he has left them in case the new buyer enjoys that sort of thing. There are even some even unique ones from the EU.

As to the overall condition of the body, I’d have to say it is quite good. There’s zero rust, and the paint is probably an 8 out of 10, having been completely redone just 3 years ago. The interior is brand new as well, and I have to admit I really dig it, especially in person. The plaid fits the vehicle perfectly, and the overall quality feels factory. The pickup bed is all custom and seems to be at least 6 years old. The canopy and sides are all very well made and tough as can be. It’s “very cool and very field friendly” according to Bruce. I’d have to agree. 

While I dare say no Vanagon is perfect, this old Doka is certainly one of the better ones. Whether you’re just looking for a cool four-wheel drive, a fun daily driver, or the next vehicle to take you around the world, this option should make your short list.

The current price is $26,000 USD, and more information can be found by contacting the owner at:

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Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Senior Editor while living full-time on the road.