Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001 20:28:05 +0000
Reply-To: radish150 <radish150@EARTHLINK.NET>
Sender: Vanagon Mailing List <email@example.com>
From: radish150 <radish150@EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: "usefull service life"
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> 1) Since the Vanagon is now out of production 10 years, most of the
> existing Vanagons are at or approaching the limit of their useful
> service life. This means that to enjoy their original reliability, the
> Vanagon must be reconditioned to "original" VW specifications.
I think it's obvious that this has a strong degree of truth in it. It also, to a certain degree, is making excuses. A couple of years ago, I was in Hawaii and needed a little pickup. A friend of a friend had an old rusted out 77 toyota pickup with over 200 thousand miles on the original motor. He said I could have it if I could make it run, it had been sitting for 5 years. I towed it home, replaced a battery cable, put a
new battery in it, poured gas down it's gullet, and started it up. later I put a clutch slave cyl in it too, but other than that I just patched a bunch of gaping rust holes with roof tar and fiberglass. After that, I drove it for a year all over that island and it never gave a seconds worth of trouble. Now that is reliability, and just as important, DURABILITY. Now I know that you will say that the Toy was a much simpler
vehicle and therefore it's not a fair comparison, but that is exactly the comparison needed to illustrate where I feel the Vanagons weakness lies. I think it is an overly intricate vehicle, and the parts build quality is not the best in the world. These two factors combine to be a bit of trouble when the thing ages. I had the same experience with the Porsche 928's. All but the earliest ones are VERY intricate cars, and
have so many (dare I say) "rinky dink" parts that they are always breaking down. And it was NOT due to HP increases because the early Euro 928's had quite high HP and were as simple and reliable as the early low HP models. There are ways to build simple, reliable, durable, modern vehicles. It seems that germans have a tendency to build overly complex cars sometimes, with many little plastic parts that break allot. You do
not have these problems with 77 Volvo with air, heat, cruise and yes even power steering.
While I'm on the subject, what is with VW's seeming inability to make a reliable cooling system? Geeze, they seem to want to build these cooling systems that completely fail if even ONE little part is not right on the money. Toooo little margin for error in these systems. Even the inline 4 cooling systems are super touchy, I know from experience they are hard to live. They have to be JUST right.
On the other hand, I just made my first 500 mile trip in my newly resurrected 85 westy and I must say it comported itself with much grace. I have not figured it out yet but I swear it got around 20 mpg loaded to the hilt and including a large mountain pass. They like many German cars have an almost "organic" nature, like complex living things they respond well to attention. They can be very rewarding if you can keep on
top of the deteriorating complex systems, but paragons of long term reliability they most certainly are not.