- our bring a trailer pick of the day is this 1989 volkswagen vanagon gl syncro camper conversion.
- this rare beast features a pop-top roof for extra sleeping space and an all-wheel-drive system to make easier work of navigating to off-grid camping spots.
- the seller has replaced several key items, including tires and the air conditioning compressor, so this adventure mobile comes ready to hit the open road.
like many other auto enthusiasts, we can easily find ourselves lost for hours in the car-auction dreamland that is bring a trailer. this weekend we found this 1989 volkswagen vanagon gl syncro camper conversion that got our car-nerd juices flowing and also gave us a serious case of wanderlust. it's up for auction on the bring a trailer auction site—which, like car and driver, is part of hearst autos—with bidding open until saturday, february 26.
the vanagon was sold in north america from 1980 to 1991, and those models are becoming increasingly rare these days due to their age. this 1989 model is rarer still, in that it comes with volkswagen's syncro all-wheel-drive system and has been converted for camper use. given the explosion in interest in camping and overlanding in recent years, this gem seems like a perfect way to get into the hobby.
of all the vanagon trim levels, the gl was the most luxurious, although that word is relative since we're talking about a late-1980s van. according to the enthusiast site vanagons.org, the gl added features such as front-seat armrests and a padded steering wheel rim. how fancy. the owner of this one splurged, not only on the optional syncro system, but also on 14-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and air conditioning.
while volkswagen sold a factory-built pop-top camper version of the vanagon in 1989, this particular one was actually converted and had its pop-top roof installed by country home campers of santa cruz, california. the company is still in business, too, which means if you need replacement parts or want to further customize this vanagon you can.
because the stock water-cooled flat-four is only rated at 90 horsepower, a lot of these older vanagons have had their engines swapped out for more powerful and more modern subaru flat-fours, but this example has been preserved with the original engine. we also love that it has a five-speed manual transmission. when we tested an example back in 1980, it needed 17.9 seconds to reach 60 mph, and that one didn't have all the camper accoutrements that this one has.
so yeah, it's probably extremely slow, but this is the kind of vehicle that encourages you to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. speaking of the journey, to prepare the vanagon for sale, the seller apparently put new tires on it last year and also made several other repairs, including replacing the air conditioning compressor. summer fun, here we come! bidding is already up to $27,000 with five days to go before the auction closes.