Campmobile Survivor: 1979 Volkswagen Bus Westfalia

This 1979 Volkswagen Westfalia is the top-shelf offering from the company that year if you sought a camp-ready vehicle that made life on the road seem entirely possible. Featuring a pop-top roof with side curtains in the window and a full assortment of cooking equipment inside, the Westfalia conversion added a few dollars to the purchase price but was seemingly well worth it to the families and individuals that drove these underpowered beasts all over creation. They also command a fair price today, as this survivor listed here on eBay for just under $32,000 goes to show.

I’ve been indoctrinated into the world of VW Buses and Transporters in recent months after selling my 1981 Toyota HiAce project and buying a 2003 VW Eurovan to replace it. What fascinates me the most is how devoted VW owners are to these super comfortable – but admittedly quirky – long-distance rigs. The company really did create a new market for itself when it introduced the Westfalia, with its sleeping cabin in the pop-up roof and the full Campmobile interior with its nicely finished woodgrain-style surfaces and very handy storage compartments. Even my Eurovan, with the “MultiVan” interior, continues this tradition with storage cubbies, a fold-out bed, and stow-away table for roadside lunches.

What I love about the Eurovan in comparison to my departed HiAce is having the convenience of a van with 200 b.h.p. under the hood. To live the vintage van life, you really have to be willing to embrace driving everywhere slowly, which I was – but it wasn’t something that I could fully support doing with two young children in tow and the desire to take the van long distances. All that said, it pained me slightly to see the HiAce depart, as I had spoken with numerous VW Bus owners who happily go across the country with well under 100 b.h.p. and nary a concern in the world. This Bus is said to have a healthy engine and benefit from a recently rebuilt gearbox.

One of my favorite features of the original Westfalia is the plaid (or is it tartan?) cloth used extensively throughout the cabin, from the front seats to the rear bed. I’ve predominantly seen them in green and orange, and it’s a great look for a vintage Bus of this generation. The cabin is obviously in outstanding condition in this example, and since the seller doesn’t mention the bed cushion, bench, pop-top canvas, sinks, or cupboards as having been restored, I’m going to assume all of those components are original and that this Bus has simply been loved since new. These Campmobiles do need regular upkeep, especially of the original interiors, so it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it purchase – and especially not for a $30K survivor.

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Comments

  1. Jasper

    Prices on these are stupid. And this is a joke with the black rattle can along all of the rust prone areas. Decent looking bus otherwise. Guess the headrests are extra cost! Always liked this color or the goldenrod yellow best on these.

    Like 4
  2. misterlou Member

    @jeff, this has to be one of the more personal outpourings of automotive angst and personal struggle that I’ve read in a while. Who knew that tartan green could trigger such feelings?

    Like 1
  3. DougB

    I have a well maintained bay-window Westy, with all the fixings and a recent Raby Camper Special 2.0 engine and I wouldn’t feel honest asking over $19K for it. Seriously, some people are clearing smoking the good stuff.

    Like 2
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    Our first one of these was orange with the orange plaid interior. Drove it all over the country many times and even towed a race car with it. The drive up Pikes Peak was a little slow but it would cruise on flat ground with a AC on at 65 all day. Great fun. Hate to see the prices going so high as to keep young folks from using and enjoying one.

    Like 2
    • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

      A little slow.

  5. 370zpp

    Wow. That interior. If I was to get into that van after a night of drinking, I would be losing it all before it hit 30 mph.

    • DougB

      Yeah, the orange and brown plains are tough to look at. The green & yellow is a little better. My ’75 has the blue/green plaid, a 2-year only pattern, that is the best combo, IMO.

  6. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Nostalgia be damned, you want a Vanagon for a comfortable drive. I’ve been there, done that. LMFAO.

  7. Mountainwoodie

    I used to say I wouldnt own a bus made after 1967; never cared for the big window ’68- on busses………….much less the more modern iterations. Now when a ’79 is asking 32 large………………….whoa Nellie bar the door!

    I sold a 21 window CHERRY ’67 with a Westphalia camper interior I installed, back in the eighties. I felt guilty taking the buyers money! lol. Now I know that was a long time ago but sheesh………………

  8. banjo

    As the owner of an orange 74 Westfailia, complete with the “Westy Plaid” interior, and being a person who watches the market on these, I can say that the seller seems to have found and smoked some leftovers from a weekend-long Grateful Dead concert. Mid teens is more in line with current pricing and even that is ridiculous to me, but it’s what they are getting right now. I couldn’t afford the bus I have now if I tried to buy it today. Any Westy going for 30K plus would have to be flawless and come with every factory accessory available. I don’t see the side tent, extra stools, child’s cot, or the legendary “yellow bucket” anywhere in the listing.

    • DougB

      Ah, the yellow bucket…crazy to see this $2 bit of molded plastic go for updates of $300-400 to serious collectors. But yes, price-wise I think you’re right on. For $30K he’d need to have flawless paint, but instead this guy had repainted rockers and a tired original coat. It’s almost like he didn’t even want to sell it from how poorly prepared for pictures it is.

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