Rusty Survivor: 1979 Volkswagen Vanagon

Upon my first glance at this rusty mess here on eBay, I almost laughed out loud. I have had a few of these buses, and they rust away in some really delicate places. What had reader Ed Von C sent us? Well, thank you, Ed, because it’s not nearly as bad as it looks and it is said to have only about 75,000 miles. The seller claims it’s only surface rust and it appears he may be mostly correct. The second generation bay window van is not nearly as popular as the original “splitties” but they are still in demand and really nice examples sell for over $10,000 on Bay. Here is another one on eBay bid up to $15,000. Bidding on this rusty bus is just over $3,000 with 5 days left.

It looks pretty nice inside except for the shabby driver’s seat. The seat and the paint that is worn off the shift lever put the mileage claim in serious doubt.

It still looks pretty nice in the back as well. There are no rust stains around the windows which would indicate serious rust.

Here’s the 2 L flat-four boxer engine from the Porsche 914 that VW used in its buses starting in 1976 . It only has 67 HP, but that is net HP, and it has over 1oo foot/pounds of torque. It has hydraulic lifters, fuel injection and electronic ignition.

Here’s the surprising view. There may be rust under that “rust proof” coating, but it would appear to be only surface rust. Even the heater tubes are in good shape.

It will be interesting to see how high the bidding will go. My big concern would be the rust around the windshield. The buyer will have to at least remove the windshield and grind away the rust. Even after an in person, up close inspection, the new owner will be taking a gamble. It will be interesting to see just how high the bidding will go. There are 43 bids at this time with about a dozen bidders. Like Porsches, what folks are willing to pay for VW vans is often well beyond reason. Any bids much higher than the current bid will be beyond the value of this bus when considering repairs. Perhaps the buyer will just grind, prime and seal and drive it as is. It couldn’t look any worse than the lime green paint.

Fast Finds


  1. Mark in WNC

    This vehicle isn’t a Vanagon and VW started using this style engine in Type IIs destined for the U.S. market in ’72.

  2. MIkeG

    Looks perfectly fixable, if the bottom isn’t rust covered in undercoating. But NOT a Vanagon.

  3. Rabbit

    Seems like these things were ALL lime green….or orange.

  4. KEN TILLY Member

    The reason that the paint is worn off the gear lever in only 75,000 miles is that you have to change gear about every 20 seconds just to keep the wagon up to speed!

    • Rabbit

      It’s a good thing these could be configured for 7 passengers: One to steer, & 6 to help push it up a hill.

  5. XMA0891

    My best friend in high school drove a ’79 van that was in way better shape than this one. After trying unsuccessfully to sell it, he drove it to UVM where his older sister was a student. He parked the van, which would’ve been no-more than eight years old, in a remote parking lot, left the key in the ignition, took the plates and paperwork, and walked away. He kept tabs on it; it took the school over a year to tow it away. Hindsight. Those really were the days.

  6. whippeteer

    I once got my ’72, which came from the factory with the 1.7 Type IV engine that was developed for the 914, up to 74 mph! I was racing a 911 Turbo. Well, actually we were in traffic, and once it cleared, he waved with a smile on his face and took off leaving me well behind. A couple of miles down the road, he was pulled over by the state police.

    Rust is a big killer. Even surface rust quickly eats through and becomes terminal cancer with these.

  7. Jeffro

    Looks like it’s ready for a Dead concert!

  8. PhilB

    Funny how that surface rust turns into holes once you start sanding/grinding on it.

  9. Jody

    Just a bunch of amateur here. That’s not rust. That ain’t squat. The Morons in here, don’t even know how to fix rust, wtf? Grinder? Nobody grinds diddley anymore on rust, unless your replacing a metal piece. Sanding? Nobody sands rust…wtf….lmao

    • newfieldscarnut

      Hyper autobody repairmen scare me .

  10. Jody

    It’s called doing things right, or correctly ass. I guess all those restorers doing Concours cars like me, are Hyper. Toss off buddy.

  11. glen

    So much for no profanity or personal attacks!

  12. MrBZ

    “Concours cars like me”……hilarious!!

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.