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Category: volkswagen transporter

Junkyard Gem: 1992 Volkswagen EuroVan CL

Volkswagen is once again in the van-selling business in the United States, after a best-forgotten period of attempting to sell rebadged Chrysler minivans plus the occasional teasing of vans that we never got here. The last gasp for the good old VW Transporter aka VW Bus here was the fourth-generation model, known in North America as the EuroVan and sold from the 1992 through 2003 model years. Here’s a first-year EuroVan, found in a Denver-area knacker’s yard recently.

The EuroVan had to compete against increasingly popular SUVs plus a huge range of affordable minivans from Detroit and Japan, so not many made it to our shores and they are quite rare in junkyards today. I find quite a few third-generation Transporters (aka Vanagons) during my junkyard travels, as well as the occasional second-generation model, but years go by between EuroVan sightings.

This one was built for new sale in Canada. I find Canadian-market cars in United States junkyards regularly, including a 1985 Peugeot 505, a 1991 Honda Civic, a 1997 Acura EL and a 2004 Acura EL. It’s legal for a Canadian- or Mexican-registered vehicles to drive in the United States for one year, after which it must return home or get proper registration in the United States. Since 1992 is well before the 25-year federal importation limit, this van might have been imported legally after 2017.

The instrument cluster was gone, so I didn’t see the telltale km/h speedometer, but the transmission type suggested that the original buyer of this van purchased it across the border. EuroVans with five-speed manual transmissions were sold in the United States, but few bought them.

The engine is a 2.5-liter gasoline-burning straight-five, rated at 109 horsepower. Since this van scales in at just under two tons, it would have been firmly within the tradition of excruciatingly slow VW Transporters.

It’s never a good sign for junkyard engine shoppers when you see spare engine parts inside the vehicle.

EuroVan sales in the United States continued through 2003, and these vans still have their devoted zealots enthusiasts in the United States today. There are two of them that park on the street in my Denver neighborhood, though I’m sure those Transporters don’t impress the owners of the half-dozen Vanagon Syncros who also live within a few blocks.

It’s definitely not a minivan, according to VWoA’s marketers.

Nothing mini about it!

When you do some serious begetting, you require something bigger than a Passat.

VW never gave up on the Transporter for Europe.

Just the thing for hard work.

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Junkyard Gem: 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon

Volkswagen began selling Transporter vans in the United States during the early 1950s, with sales continuing through three generations and through the 1991 model year. There are those who will tell you that VW Transporters are now much too sought-after by enthusiasts to ever appear in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent, but they are incorrect. We saw a second-generation Transporter in a Colorado yard last year, and now here’s a third-generation model currently residing in a South Carolina facility.

The T3 Transporter first appeared in the United States as a 1980 model, and it was badged as the Vanagon. This name was a mashup of “van” and “wagon,” which followed decades of VW stubbornly pitching its passenger vans as station wagons (to be fair, Detroit did the same thing with its passenger vans). When Toyota attempted to sell an Americanized version of the MasterAce Surf with “Van Wagon” badges here for 1984, Volkswagen’s lawyers forced them to change the name to, simply, the Toyota Van.

Gasoline-fueled Vanagons had air-cooled engines until well into 1983 (water-cooled diesels with 49 mighty horsepower were available in the Vanagon for 1982 and 1983), but we can see a radiator in the snout of this van. What’s the deal?

The build tag says it started life in Hanover, West Germany as a 1982 model with the 2.0-liter gasoline-burner, so it must have had a Wasserboxer swap later on. I saw an ’81 Vanagon with a similar swap in Colorado a few months back.

The engine was grabbed by a junkyard shopper before I arrived.

Unusually, this van has the optional automatic transmission. The water-cooled VW engines most likely to have been swapped into this van made well below 100 horsepower and the curb weight is close to 3,100 pounds, so this machine would have been very, very slow to accelerate.

Jim Hudson is still selling new cars in Columbia, though not Volkswagens these days.

It turns out that the Vanagon shares its wheel bolt pattern with that of the Mercedes-Benz W123. There’s just one of these wheels installed, but it looks cool.

It’s not rusty and the interior probably wasn’t too bad in its pre-junkyard-arrival state, but the cost to restore one of these vans can be prohibitive.

Essentially a European luxury car. You’d want to avoid hills with a diesel Vanagon and a load of seven passengers.

The Vanagon was all about performance.

The room of a van. The comfort of a station wagon. There’s a crafty dig at Detroit’s recently downsized wagons in this commercial.

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