Storage Unit Find: 1974 VW Westfalia

The rise in popularity of vintage campers is perhaps one of my favorite trends of the collector car hobby. These are vehicles that force you to slow down a little, get in touch with your analog side, and plan some trips that don’t involve WiFi or Tiki lounges. This 1974 VW Westalia is a nicely preserved camper that’s just out of long-term storage, and it shows a clean interior with a functional camper top. Find it here on craigslist in New Hampshire for $9K, and thanks to Barn Finds reader B. Walters for the find. 

Check out that tartan interior! This is one of the most encouraging signs that a camper has been lovingly preserved as opposed to put away wet. The cloth seating surfaces is not only period-correct; it’s just plain nice, the type of cloth you won’t be afraid to sit in the first night away with this Westfalia. The cabinetry appears quite sound as well, and the curtains are a nice touch. Clean carpets are another hopeful indication that this camper was owned by hippies who at least showered once in a while.

As I continue to mull over converting my Toyota HiAce into a camper, one of the bigger challenges (in my opinion) is choosing the right location for the cabinets and storage areas. When they were built by an aftermarket like Westfalia that was closely integrated with the OEM, it lent itself to perhaps a more organized interior, with the storage units not getting in the way of entry points, and having reasonable dimensions so they don’t become obtrusive in the already space-limited interior. The wood finishes look decent for their age.

This particular Bus shows quite well underneath, a surprising quality since it resides in New Hampshire. The seller notes it has some mild running issues at the moment, as the VW will “…fire off a small bit of ether. Likely fuel is just not getting past injectors.” That’s a minor issue and likely just needs a day’s worth of sleuthing by an air-cooled mechanic. Buying a Westfalia with a solid chassis and clean camper interior are two big boxes to check, and this example appears to achieve both with ease.

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  1. Bob_S

    This looks like a much better deal the Karma-Ghia for sale. A few weekends worth of tinkering and you’ll be out having fun. I would defiantly try to get the price down since it isn’t running/driving on its own at the moment. You would have to go through the brakes, change all the fluids and check the suspension before taking-off on a long trip. But you should be able to enjoy the fall colors with this.

  2. Miguel

    I can’t imagine how slow this would be with all the weight of the camper equipment.

    I drove a regular bus back in the ’80s and was struggling to keep up 50 MPH on the freeway.

    This has to be a lot slower.

  3. Fred W

    Could be as simple as cleaning the gas tank and replacing the filter. If no foreign material has entered the injection system, once cleaned up it should fire right up. I found the VW injection system easy to troubleshoot.

  4. Tim S. Member

    My grandfather owned a late-70’s Westy without the pop top. Between the lack of extra weight and a slightly-upgraded powerplant, it did OK on the Interstates but was not going to set any time/distance records. I wouldn’t want to drive a bone-stock pop-up anywhere the speed limit was over 45.

  5. Bradshaw from Primer

    I drove mine with family from Dallas to Niagara Falls, DC and Florida and up into the blue ridge….cruised nicely at 60….in flat texas cruised at 70…and it had a/c!!
    it was 67 hp but afraid of over 45!!! HAHAHAHAHAAHHAAH
    we typically averaged 53mph on long interstate runs…which meant cruising at 60+.

  6. Bob Wright

    Many options for power. I went Ecotec and never looked back.180 hp with a header and programmable computer.

    • Miguel

      Is that in a bus? what did you do to the front suspension to handle the power?

    • Malcolm Gibson

      It must be water cooled. How did you handle the extra weight in the rear and where did you put the radiator? This is a project which should be written up!

  7. Jack Quantrill

    I can see this parked on the side of road at the Tour de France!

  8. hatofpork

    I can see this parked on the side of the road anywhere!

  9. greg Wentzell

    My Brother had purchased a later model in excellent condition. It road well for what it was and with four adults onboard, performed just fine: no racing or neck snappin’ performance.

  10. Bradshaw from Primer

    Mine did come to a stop on every long trip we made. Oxidized relay connections(the german metal cladding those oxidized like crazy) hard to crank (added a Started Solenoid instead of running hi current 20 feet to the key and back!!!)…plugs fouling( fixed the fuel injection Mass air flow meter) engine stopped revving over 2000 rpm (screwed the temp head sensor back into the head)……No clutch adjustment left(discovered the germans used Washers to adjust the takeup and someone had taken out all the washers!!!)
    But it was comfortable for the family sitting by the side of the road and we did have a AAA towing package.

  11. George

    Not a 1600 engine. VW went to the 1700 type 4 engine in 1972. Displacement was upped to 1800 by 74. I had a ’72 economy camper. The economy camper did not have the poptop, sink, stove or cooler. But it did have the paneling, stool, table, and bed. While it wasn’t a dragster, I did get it up to 74 once on the interstate in a drag race with a 930 Turbo. I won! The benefits of traffic! Once he cleared the traffic, he gave me a wave and took off. A couple of miles down the road he had been pulled over by the cops.

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