Thursday, November 17, 2011

For $70,000: "Old New" Bus, or "New Old" Vanagon?

photo credit: MotorTrend
Both Automobile and MotorTrend magazines reported this week on the return of Volkswagen's T2 "Bay Window" Bus to the European market. These are not restorations, they are new Buses rolling off the factory line in Brazil. This has been going on for years, and occasionally a vehicle was privately shipped up to Europe, but now for the first time since the Buses were discontinued in 1979, Volkswagen's official Dutch distributor is creating a new European Bus market.

The 2012 Kombi has an updated dash panel, a 1.4 L water-cooled engine, a radiator up front, and some new interior and exterior accessory options, but it's otherwise identical to the German-built models of the 1970's. The price? 45,000-56,000 Euros, or the equivalent of $62,000-$77,000. Yikes. As the articles point out, with that price tag and the unlikelihood that these Buses would ever pass US emissions standards, we won't be seeing these cruising the California coast any time soon.

photo credit: MotorTrend
That hefty price tag got me wondering whether I'd really want one of these "Old New" Buses even if they were available to the US market (and I had that kind of cash!). For the money, I think I would much prefer what I'll call a "New Old" Vanagon, restored, and more importantly, updated. Take, for example, this 1991 Vanagon Full Camper that GoWesty recently sold for $61,000. Among the many updates and add-ons too numerous to list, it sports a new 2.5 L engine, solar powered auxiliary battery system, modern kitchen, modern cooling, modern exhaust, modern suspension, 16" wheels, and so much more.

1991 Vanagon Camper from GoWesty
As I've said before, I couldn't care less about maintaining OEM authenticity. If there's a better product or replacement part on the market than the original part designed over 20 years ago, that's what I want in my Vanagon. If I ever trip over a pile of $60,000, I'm looking to GoWesty, not Brazil, for my next VW camper.


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