1989 Vanagon GL Wolfsburg Edition
We purchased this
van in May 1989 and are the original owners. It has been the most
reliable automobile we have ever owned and until recently we
have only had to replace routine items - tires, brakes, battery, that
kind of thing. It's unbeatable for camping and road trips - as
long as you're not in a big hurry. The van has always been
garaged and the paint, body and interior are in excellent (near mint)
shape. In 2004 at 159k miles the heads started to leak.
Rather than just replacing the heads we decided to have the
engine rebuilt; we didn't really need to but wanted to gain some
power. From that point we have only used it to move the kids to
school a couple times, and drive it once a month or so during good
weather. We finally decided to quit screwing around and start
replacing parts and pieces to make it as reliable as possible.
researched this quite a bit and found there are a number of people doing
all kinds of engine conversions replacing the original Wasserboxer
engine with engines from Subaru, Audi, Porsche, there's even a new in
line 4 kit available from VW in South Africa. This is a fairly
rare model so we decided to keep it stock, but with subtle
improvements... What can I say... I have a horizontally opposed
The project so far...
In 2004 we shipped the engine down to Go
Westy in California for the rebuild deciding to kick it up just
a notch horse power wise going with their 2212 cc option, but keeping
the original block so the serial numbers match.
Here's the details on the rebuild:
Engine cases (block), machined.
cylinder head studs.
Specially machined, counter balanced & heat treated crankshaft
with 78 mm stroke.
Specially machined connecting rods for 78 mm stroke.
Proprietary camshaft grind specifically for this engine.
Hydraulic lifters match-ground to camshaft.
tappet adjustment screws.
bearings: main, rod, and camshaft.
mm larger (95 mm) pistons and cylinders
cylinder heads - See Detail below
valves are scraped.
OE German quality intake and exhaust valves.
De-burred intake and exhaust ports, precision three-angle valve
flywheel or flex plate installed and adjusted.
pulley, coolant x-tube, connection hose, & steel elbow
covers re-painted and installed.
Displacement 2212 cc (Original - 2110cc)
Horsepower 105 (Original -
Torque 140 Ft-Lbs (Original - 117)
89 octane fuel
tail pipe emissions test in all 50 states
Head Detail -
Spanish made AMC cylinder heads (heavier casting than original
heads) were sent to Lesco Machine in California. Lesco removes all
of the stock AMC valves and scraps them. All ports are smoothed just
past the valve seats for better air flow, and they performed a high
quality three-angle valve job, then installed brand new OE
German intake and exhaust valves. The heads were also
In our experience so far the 2212cc engine is smoother and has
more power; I can drive over the pass without down shifting!
We still need to put more miles on it, but so far it looks
like we are also getting better gas mileage than the stock engine.
As of 2009 we still do not have many miles on the engine,
but it still seems to be running well with no issues. That
said... Knowing what I know now - if I were to do it again I would
go to Vanistan
or Rocky Jennings for
2010 - 2013 -
You name it... Brakes, all new coolant hoses, stainless
steel pipes and junction kit, new aluminum thermostat housing,
radiator, all new fuel line, fuel pressure regulator, rebuilt
injectors and new seals, Koni shocks, 15 inch wheels & tires,
front and rear wheel bearings and brakes, new CV joints, coil,
distributor, and last but not least a new OEM windshield.
This Spring we had Porbug & AA Transaxle rebuild the
transmission. I can't say enough about both shops - both
George and Daryl took the time to answer a lot of questions and
did an excellent job... The van shifts as smooth as it did when
new. What's next?... Road trip!
and...Maybe an iPod compatible sound system, rebuild the front end
including new springs followed by an alignment. At some
point I'm going to tackle replacing the front heater core, and am
thinking about a headlight upgrade. I found a decent used
set of E-code H4 rectangle headlights, which would have been stock
for a European model.
Transaxle - High quality rebuilt VW,
Porsche and Audi manual transmissions. Best there is.
- George is the best VW / Porsche mechanic
period. Nice new shop in Edmonds.
Dragonfly Vans -
Rent a classic camper van... Scott is also a Vanagon
expert if you are in the Idaho / Montana area
Samba - Discussion forum with a
lot of helpful info
- Home of the Vanagon mailing list; great info and a
ton of other links
- Great group of camping and VW van
enthusiasts. Monthly camping trips rain or shine...
- The Better Waterboxer - Chris Corkins builds
the best Vanagon Engines and other items
Rocky Jennings -
Another great Engine builder and machine shop
Great source for Vanagon Parts - Best customer service, fast
Kay - Stainless
coolant pipes - other parts and accessories
- Parts, Westy camper restoration, engines, develops
replacement parts - great customer service