1989 Vanagon Syncro Weekender

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1989 Vanagon Syncro Weekender

4WD for Sale, 1989 Vanagon Syncro Weekender

Found this all-terrain van made by Volkswagen in the 80s well known as the Vanagon Syncro built in 1989 described as still in good condition being offered for sale by the owner on Craigslist for $55000. Powered by a 3.0L H6 Subaru engine mated manual transmission, 4x4 drivetrain with high ground clearance, a weekender interior, and a pop top conversion could be the perfect overlander camper and ready for a new owner.
Year of construction 1989
Brand Volkswagen
Model Vanagon Syncro
Type 4x4 Van
Fuel Gas
Color Red
Miles 281000
License Yes
Price $55,000
For Sale By Owner
Contact CLOSED
City Olympia, Washington

Detail by owner
We have been avid, questionably obsessed Vanagon owners since 2015. In August of 2022, we purchased Anakin, nicknamed “Ani”, from an awesome dude in Bend, Oregon. You may be thinking to yourself, that wasn’t that long ago, why would they be parting with this van so soon?!
Heck, it might even raise a few red flags for you. Well, here is an honest explanation. Up to the purchase of Anakin, our Vanagon experience had been exclusively 2WD. We had outgrown our beloved tin top and were on the lookout for a weekender camper. Anakin came up in the search results and the rest is history. As friggin’ cool as this van is, we have realized that it’s much more than we need. Because of this, we feel that Anakin may be “happier” with another owner that can give him the rambunctious life he deserves. Enough about that, more about the van.

Anakin is a double knob, 1989 Syncro (4WD with a rear locker) sporting an 3.0L H6 Subaru engine pulled from a 2003 LL Bean Outback. The van has the weekender interior and a pop top conversion that was done the “right way”. The gentleman who owned the van before us literally poured every ounce of himself into this van. The dude who owned the van before us is well known in the Syncro inner circles and has worked closely with the folks at GoWesty, Descend, Dometic, VanagonLife, Zamp, Burley Motorsports, Weddle, Small Car Performance…the list goes on. You should see the receipt folder I received from this guy. It is about 3” thick and details all the work he completed and includes the receipts from the original owner all the way back to the van’s purchase in 1989. When I was researching this van, there wasn’t a person in the sub-culture of Syncros that didn’t know of this van and its previous owner. Ultimately, what I am trying to say is that this van is about as badass of a Syncro you could hope to come across. If there is a top-of-the-line part a Syncro could have…this van has it. This van has been to Descend, SyncroFest and multiple trips through Baja. If you have Syncro overlanding dreams, this van can make them come true. Once again, we are not selling this van because there is anything wrong with it, we have just come to realize that it’s MORE, MUCH MORE than we need and that there is probably someone out there (You?!) that could rock this van much better than us. Here are the big time features of the Van:

Subaru H6 3.0L Engine (This is a rare conversion, but allows you to travel at freeway speeds, EASILY!)
Double knob system (4WD and rear locker engage flawlessly)
Full engine top end rebuild by Crooked Fingers in 2021
Transaxle was the last in house full rebuild by Weddle in 2015
Pop top conversion by Mastercraft motors in 2015
Control arms from Burley Motorsports
South African Bigger Brakes
Front and rear LT/AD Fox Shocks w/GoWesty Syncro Springs
Lifted w/ BF Goodrich All-Terrain Tires and black mefro wheels
Full Powerflex bushings throughout
True South African Grille and Upgraded headlights
Zamp Solar System with Auxiliary Battery beneath drivers seat
Yakima cargo carrier and triple tower rack system
GoWesty front and rear bumper with double swing away system:
Passenger side: Storage locker and ladder
Driver side: Spare tire carrier
Upgraded bluetooth stereo and sound system (subwoofer under driver seat)
12V power and USB ports throughout van
Security strap/harness system installed throughout van to secure objects during “bumpy” rides
Fiamma f45 awning and body mounts w/ LED lighting
LED lighting throughout the van
VanagonLife locking middle console
VanagonLife rear vents
VanagonLife rear window replacement panel (to store high lift jack and recovery boards). Has a grid system on the inside to organize your things.
Auxiliary battery and main battery can be combined (you can jump yourself!) using a hidden switch contained in the VanagonLife console. Can also act as a Kill-switch).
A second “hidden” kill-switch, if you want to render the van “unstealable” if you find yourself parked in a “shady” spot for a short period of time
Recaro seats, the passenger side swivels around to face the rear! These are top of the line seats and are friggin comfy!
Power windows and power locks!
AC works great!
ScanGauge II for all the proper readings!

There are many other upgrades that I am sure have been installed which I have not mentioned (and are slipping my mind). Bottom line…this van is sweet. The only work we had performed on Anakin since we purchased him is (to address a 420 error code the scan gauge was throwing. The error code is GONE now). Addtionally, I replaced the LCD Clock screen, rebuilt the slider door latch mechanism and replaced the rear side marker lenses with LED replacements. Small Car Peformance replaced the following items to alleviate the error code:

Replaced spark plugs
Replaced ignition coil pack
Replaced intake valve control

Here are the negatives/things to keep in mind (In my attempt to be fully honest and transparent). None of these concerns are immediate:

The body of the van is not perfect. This van has seen many adventures and has many more adventures remaining still left in it. Still, this is not a showroom van. There are no major dents, nor accidents, nor rust spots that cannot be easily addressed. The most major rust spot is under the rear hatch window seal. This could be best serviced by finding a donor hatch. Because the spot is not leaking yet, this has not been addressed. Before deciding to sell, we had several body work estimates done. In order to have the van look “brand new” again, the estimates ranged from $15-18k. With that said, there is no immediate need to have body work performed (For a van that has been through some rugged situations and is built to continue to do so, who needs a perfect van?)

The interior of the van is not perfect. Like I said previously, this van has seen many adventures in dusty, dirty places. Still, we recently shampooed and detailed the van (we also removed and washed all the curtains)…it looks pretty darn great! If we were going to keep the van, our plan was to replace the carpet (full carpet replacements can be purchased for $400-$500 on GoWesty)

The transaxle is starting to show some signs of wear. The most recent build (2015) was about as top of the line as it gets. Although there is likely some time until the transaxle needs to be fully addressed, we noticed difficulty shifting into first gear at times. We were told (by Small Car Performance) that the transaxle will need some love soon. If we were keeping the van, we were planning to rebuild the transaxle (by Rancho) this coming spring (2023). Still, the transaxle is currently performing just fine and does not need an immediate rebuild.

In the end, Anakin is beyond cool. He is a rare van in that he is genuinely the only one of his kind. Just about everywhere you go, you will get thumbs up, honks, stares and people coming up to you in parking lots to chat with you about your “awesome van”. If you are in the market for a Syncro that has just about every dream, top of the line piece of hardware in it…Anakin is for you. He doesn’t come without his quirks, but Vanagons and Syncros attract quirky people, right?! If you have questions…please contact me. In my four months of Syncro ownership…I have learned a lot…but I definitely don’t know everything. I will answer what I can and would love for you to come meet, test drive and give Ani the life he deserves! I am not willing to accept trades or work exchanges, thanks! Price: $55,000

PS. The van has not been detailed in the posted pics. He is getting detailed on 12/28 and will be all cleaned up and ready to go for you!

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