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A Westy Syncro isn’t Ten Times Better than this 4×4 E350

Tim Odell August 13, 2015 For Sale, Redusernab Truck Thursday, Showdown 26 Comments

e350 4x4 for sale Westy syncro for sale

We try to keep it positive here at Redusernab; we do this not because we feel a need to pull punches, but because we do cars for fun, so why traffic in outrage or misery? Maybe when we run out of awesome stuff to talk about we’ll go negative. All that said, WTF is it with the pricing on Vanagon Westfalia campers?

One one hand we have a pretty redneck-y, but , while the contrasting . I can appreciate the compact packaging, efficiency and overall Indie Kid cred afforded by the Westy. This particular example is in unbelievably perfect condition, possibly the nicest one anywhere. For its part, the Ford sports a 460ci big block backed by one-ton running gear, with an LSD up front and locker in the rear. It manages to wear 36″ mud tires without looking like a Jenga tower. Don’t even start about the 460’s thirst, because you’d have to drive to the moon to recoup the gas savings().

Can someone explain to me why that Syncro’s worth somewhere between double and triple what I would’ve guessed?




  • Frank T. Cat

    why are syncros selling for so much? because people on thesamba have a near-cult like obsession with them.

    • nanoop

      I don’t get it neither, and I struggle to understand the RWD prices as well.
      I’ve met a Swiss couple in an LT syncro in Kirgistan once, and they said one could get the entire drivetrain for the RWD all over the world (they drove there from Switzerland via Pakistan), but not a single bolt for the 4×4.

      • Sjalabais

        You’ve been to Kirgisistan? Respect, a dream destination for me.

        • nanoop

          In hindsight, in a very narrow opportunity window, both private and in a political sense.
          Slightly related: a Golf 2, about the same year as the Westfalia here, rented as our taxi to the Song Kul lake:

  • Ted

    The cost difference is 49,000. Let’s assume the Ford gets 8MPG, and the Westy 18 (Which is generous, they really get closer to 15 I think). So you’d need to drive 270,000 miles to recoup the cost. So… a little more than driving to the moon, actually.

    • Hence the linked spreadsheet in the (1):

      • Ted

        Ahh. That was a subtle link. I didn’t notice it. Thanks.

  • oldcarjunkie

    Asking price != selling. I doubt the VW will get over $50k. The owner is certainly free to ask what they want though.

    • dead_elvis

      Ridiculous if it gets anywhere past $25K. These just aren’t THAT good or capable. Or rare enough yet. (But hey, no rust near the roof corners like the E350!)

  • Kiefmo

    Not to mention the Econoline looks substantially burlier, like it could take much more of a pounding before it breaks.

    Also, any local yokel shop could repair it, and any local parts store will have lots of parts for it. I doubt you could say that for the Westie. That matters a lot when your travels take you way out into no-cell-coverage territory.

  • JayP

    F’n hipsters.

    • Sjalabais

      Well, this. I have my fair share of Vanagon hipsters as s on FB. Every time the topic: “Where do I find a good VW camper?” comes up in my , I politely remind them of the existence of Toyota. A Hiace or Previa Westy would be sooo much cooler. Got a friend to buy Mercedes, too.

      • JayP

        I blame hipsters for everything that’s cool then too popular to be cool anymore.

        • Sjalabais

          A sound strategy.

      • 1977ChevyTruck

        I don’t even have to go on FB for that.

        There were two 1990s Transporters at the family shin-dig I was at over the weekend.

        One was white, and is fairly stock, the other was Audi orange, with a $18 000 sound system. The orange ones time is split between Canmore, Alberta, and Seattle. This should tell you all you need to know about my mom’s family.

    • Besides, Westys are like, so 2010.

      I’d get a Delica Super Exceed. You probably haven’t heard of it.

      • dmdukejr

        I liked Delica Super Exceeds before they were cool.

  • Alff

    Camping is better with toys. Toys that must be towed. Econoline wins.

    • longrooffan

      At my age, camping is better with motels.

      As an aside, met tanshanomi and Mrs. Tanshanomi today.

      • Alff

        I’m sorry for your misfortune. ; )

  • crank_case

    That econoline looks awesome, can I also suggest the Mitsubishi Delica as another alternative.

    Edit – mad_science beat me to it, but have pics anyway.

  • dukeisduke

    Somehow, “FREE CANDY” doesn’t look as cool when painted on the side of a Westy.

  • peugeotdude505

    Westy’s price has been reduced to $47.5k . I wonder if he read your article?

    Also If I’m paying over 20 grand for a vanagon, it should at least have an upgraded motor to hall all the camping gear. I learned to drive stick in my dad’s 85 Camper

  • bluehillsmike

    We had a ’72 poptop 30 yrs ago. looked at retored breadboxes and Vanagons about a year ago and the prices were insane then. We ended up buying the modern VW camper replacement–new MB Sprinter vanclass B motorhome. So far 17-19 mpg, much better than the 15 my veedub would muster. oh yes, the king bed, generator, air conditioners, bathroom, two surround stereos……….Mr Longroof you would love it. I also most likely won’t be rebuilding the engine in the living room as with the VW. I can’t even see the engine in the MB!

  • Pete

    Lol, 54.500, people really are paying that kind of money for a syncro?

  • Why pay $5K for that hunk of junk when you can have this beauty to for only $2K? . No, really, I’d rather have this thing! :O

    But seriously, you know this is an unfair comparison with the significant condition differences of the two, not to mention the camper-izing of the Westy vs the absolutely Spartan inside of the Ford.

    A proper comparison would be to a fully conversion’d van with equally cultish status. Fortunately such a thing exists in the vaunted and coveted Sportmobile. And low and behold there’s a few available on the west coast:

    2004 fully decked out asking $30K:
    2005 missing a few amenities but with tons of sleeping room asking $45K:

    And on Sportmobile’s pre-owned west coast site there’s a number of comps

    2004 Ford EB E250 5.4L V-8 asking $40K
    2002 Ford E350 EB Diesel 4×4 asking $40K
    1998 Ford E350 RB Diesel 4×4 asking $29K

    So, there’s an apples to apples for you. Well, as close as one can get. All those Sportmobile’s are 7-12 years newer. Sportmobile averaging around $37K, generally more capable off-road, more space and newer. Syncro at $10K more (currently). Is it worth it to be part of that cult(ure)?

    Alternatively you could look at what it would take to make that ’85 – already a badass 4×4 – into an equally badass camper. Just going off ROUGH estimates, and possibly DIY’ing a fair bit, you could make it pretty far on $10K. $20K would get you into truly custom territory. But you’d still be lacking the cachet of either previous options; substituting instead the satisfaction of knowing you’ve got something truly “you.”