Van Cafe sends me a box

I ordered the last few parts I needed for my Baja trip from Van Cafe. I had to, after all the cool artwork I'd seen on the Samba.

I depart Monday and am eager to see how all the new gear and mods I made to my 1987 VW Westy work out. I'll be joining a caravan of other camper bus enthusiasts in San Diego, then heading to see some whales.

Previously on Boing Boing:

Flaming Unicorns!

Van Cafe at it again!


  1. I wish I had the time and money to fix up the 77 Beetle convertible I dropped off in my parents basement a few years ago…  Lets just say they aren’t “pleased” with it living there.

    1. I hear you, man. I finally had to sell my ’72 Super Beetle to someone who had the time and equipment to fix it up after it’d been sitting in my parent’s garage for a couple years. I was sad to see it go, but I was happy that someone would be enjoying it more than I could.

  2. My Dad bought a new T1 Volkswagen Van in 1961 and used it through all of the 60’s and 70’s. It was dark green and white, and easily fitted his family of 6 kids (plus our friends) for a day at the beach. As a wild-life ranger he used to take it off-road along tracks and dry river beds to check on nesting spots. This was before 4WD was a ‘thing’ – it was just a benefit of the high clearance from the ground to the chassis. When something went wrong with the Kombi he just up and fixed it himself – he even cut out his own gaskets when one blew! He knew the thing inside and out. 

    But… in the early 80’s when everyone had left home, and he had retired we all harassed him about not needing a van anymore, and told him he should get a more modern car. So, begrudgingly he sold the van and got a Datsun. 

    He regretted this decision for the rest of his life. No more troubleshooting his own engine problems, no more off-road, no more moving furniture for friends, no more sleeping in the van, no more simply washing the interior out when the car got filled with sand!

    Enjoy your Kombi and don’t let it go unless you REALLY want to!

  3. If you make it as far south as La Paz, check out Rogelio at Geraldo’s VW. The guy has been working on Volkswagens for 40 years and knows a thing or two. He even has a couple of Vanagons in his extra lot to use for parts.

    The Van Cafe parts I got on my 89 did us well BTW. Five months on the road without major issues, never been stranded.

  4. I’ve got a dearly beloved 87 Westy myself – I’d love to know more about what you’re doing with yours. Either way, have a kick-ass trip!

  5. Posts like this always (re-)assure me that there are still some nice people (humans) out there. And make me smile. :)
    Like the way Van Cafe deals with it´s clients (custom drawings) and I like the way people in the US care for their VW van. Wish I could afford maintaining one myself.
    Have a nice trip and plz report,
    best regards from Germany :)

  6. Certain mechanical things: the  DC-3, Volkswagen beetles and campers, the M-1 Garand and so on, simply have reached a peak of development and demonstrate a fitness for purpose that is rarely reached even when such things mattered more.

    Smart Cars aside, it would be nice if someone would develop and sell a simple, basic car without a lot of frippery that can reliably get you from “a” to “b; and be  worked on by almost anyone with basic tools and easily acquired skills.

  7. Not to throw cold water on the Westy lovefest but I had one myself for a couple of years.  I loved the concept of it but there were times when the execution took some of the fun and romance out of road tripping in one.  Mainly, the engine is the issue.  Even a freshly rebuilt one with all cylinders holding perfect compression is an anemic powerplant and is ill suited for the US interstate system.  I’ve found myself too many times slowing down to 30mph on slight uphill grades on a freeway with a lot of 18 wheelers and cars not too pleased about having to go around me.  The thing can reach freeway speeds okay on flat ground, but give it a small climb on a hot dry southwest summer day and it will slow down and then the slowing down will make it run hotter and that will make it slow down even more and then you’re just staring at the engine oil temp warning light (I had a 79 with an air-cooled engine that generated around 60hp I think) hoping it doesn’t come on.  It’s an anxiety-inducing proposition.

    I loved the proposition of a tiny affordable and mechanically simply and affordable RV-type vehicle.  For a young couple with little spending cash to jetset around the world, it’s a wonderful way to park near the ocean and enjoy camping with a bit more comfort than using a tent. I wish there were more viable options for such vehicles in today’s market.

    1. I had a Westy for years too, a 1980, and agreed that its not very powerful, but personally I don’t mind that at all. But the fact that it would break down on every other roadtrip, on the other hand…

      Then I got a 1973 Dodge van and all my problems went away.

      As a friend put it, never caravan with a VW van.

    2. Are you talking about a Westy or a 60’s/70’s air-cooled camper van?   They are pretty different beasts AFAIK.

      Also, the “tiny affordable RV” was unfortunately the Pontiac Aztek, which pretty much killed the category for some time to come.

      1.  Mine was a 79 Westfalia with the popup roof and kitchenette (although mine did not have the gas burners – just the sink and a cooler rather than an actual fridge) and fold-down bed in the back and all the great cupboards and nooks and crannies.  The thing had a manual transmission and an air-cooled motor.

        I sold it and purchased a GMC van that had its own “westy” style camper conversion – same interior layout minus the popup top.  It performed very well and its V8 actually gave me about the same gas mileage as the 4 in the VW…  It went fast uphill and felt more stable in the winds and in the snow (we crossed through some bad snowstorms in Oregon).  On hot days, having A/C available really made it pleasant too. 

        Now I think that a minivan such as a Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, or Chrysler Town and Country could get a camping kit installed that would make it fun to use as a westy – something a little better than throwing an inflatable mattress and a cooler and campstove in the back. 

  8. Amen!

    Would be great if many contemporary objects had the last quality (computers, vacuum cleaners, etc.) Too much planned obsolescence!

    (meant to reply to James Penrose)

  9.  There’s a reason Subaru swaps are so popular. 

    If someone isn’t willing to go that far, and doesn’t already know what mechanical hell awaits them, I tend to steer them WAY away from these models.
    Eurovan was an improvement, but still a little bit on the pokey side with the 5cyl.

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