I made it to LA with no problems and a little time to spare. The GoWesty 2.3L rebuilt engine is running beautifully. Having spent much of February breaking the engine in but unable to really apply full throttle, I've got to say her maiden voyage is feeling pretty darn good!
As was noted in the comments on my previous post the Grapevine is a well known killer of VWs. I think my friend Ryan and I spent HOURS discussing the wisdom of making a run down the 5 and putting this engine to THE test. I decided I had no reason to rush, I took the 101. Maybe I was scared...
It was a good choice. The VW is still very slow and 65-70mph is really the most it'll do comfortably. She will go faster but you don't want to drive long distances at 75mph. GoWesty's 16" wheels and Michelin tires REALLY help! The blowing around of the van by trucks and large vehicles is really reduced. She corners beautifully (this comes from a dedicated 356 and 911 driver.) All of that horrible flex from the really high side-walls of the stock wheel/tire combo is gone.
Mileage on the first tank was 15.5/gal, got up to 17/gal on the second. Leaving Marin, CA and driving through SF are probably responsible for the delta.
Having been in LA for a day, I've checked her out and all is great, so I did something important and put more stickers on the windows. Today a little bit of work on the awning (shade is a Baja commodity.) Tomorrow AM I pick up my traveling companion and continue on Boing Boing-style: Disneyland before we cross the border!