Build or Buy: A Not-So-Vanlife Van

Blah blah blah, vanlife. If you’re as sick of this “movement” as we are, well, there is a counter to the lifted-and-off-roady campers. That’s right, today we’ve found something quite a bit different. If you’re looking for a more unique vansperience (trademark!) you have to decide: do you build your own, or do you buy one built?

Argument: Buy

Article: 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon H-6

Check out this beast. Outside this ’85 Vanagon sports a killer bright-blue paint job, ground effects kit (we’re guessing from a later model), tinted windows, tinted taillights, and a set of alloy wheels. It rides on an air-ride suspension. This is the nicest looking Vanagon we’ve come across in a while.

Inside, well, we’re not sure what’s going on inside since the seller hasn’t included any interior pictures. We did find one in his Facebook Marketplace ad; we can see a pair of blue velour seats in excellent condition, a custom center console, and a custom shift lever extender to bring the knob closer to the wheel.

But the real news here is what’s under the rear decklid. The 4-cylinder boxer engine was torn out, and in its place is a 3.3-liter Subaru boxer SIX, probably from an SVX sports coupe. Nice.

A build this cool comes with a hefty price; $40,000. Take a look at the classified ad on, or the seller’s listing on Facebook Marketplace. This ’85 Vanagon is in Streetsboro, OH, just south of Cleveland.

Argument: Build

Article: 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Wolfsburg Weekender

This week’s “Build” vehicle can be summed up in three words: cheap, complete, and rust-free. To start, this Vanagon is 10 times less than the “Buy” example. Sure it needs work (read: money) to get it to show-quality standards, but the body panels look to be straight, and the van is complete.

And since this is a Weekender it has the rear-facing second-row seats, the fold up table, and the rear bench that converts to a bed. Oh yeah, the van isn’t running, so it’s perfect for a Subaru conversion.

So if you’re looking to build your own killer anti-vanlife van, scoop up this ’87 Weekender and start searching for engines. The seller is asking $4000, and the van is in Quincy, CA, north of Sacramento. Take a look at the ad on for more information.