1991 Volkswagen Type 2 Syncro

Ah, the third generation Type 2. The last of the rear-engine Volkswagens, before they Toyota-ized themselves into front-engine front-wheel drive oblivion.

But while they were still in production, these things were pretty unique. Long after Detroit had given up on the Corvair, the Type 2 "Vanagon" kept rolling on as the only rear engine van in production. The third generation lasted from 1979-1992, before they switched over to the front-engine "Eurovan".

The third generation featured more modern styling, but it was also larger and heavier. This example wears a nice shade of burgundy paint that contrasts well with the grey lower body cladding. The alloys are cool, and the square headlights are preferable over the poorly functioning round pre-'85 sealed beam units. These are cult classics now, just like almost all Volkswagen products from the late 20th century. Part of the reason is not just the unique layout, but the durability and ruggedness of the construction.

Adding to the appeal of this example is Volkswagen's patented system of four-wheel drive called Syncro. It was only offered on the Vanagaon from 1985-1992, making this one of the last. If these were go-anywhere vehicles before, the 4wd adds even more versatility.

They were available with either 4 or 5 cylinder and either gas or diesel engines. In 1984, Volkswagen switched the engines from air-cooled to water-cooled. This is an air-cooled 4-cylinder gas engine. It won't win any drag races, but it will be reliable if kept up. Earlier U.S. 1.9-liter engines were prone to head gasket failure, but the post-'85 2.1-liter were usually made to remedy that issue. This being a '91, you get all the benefits of years of improvements and upgrades.

The three-speed automatic is a downside for sporting purists, but might be easier on the hand and feet for long journeys. Volkswagen automatic transmissions have spotty reliability though, so that's one thing to watch out for.

The interior looks pretty clean and sorted, and the second row neatly folds up for extra space.

This is being offered by what appears to be a Ford dealer who provide no details on history, maintenance or even current condition. You'll definitely want the scoop on where this has been and how many owners. Vanagons are often kept for long periods by owners and then handed over to another family member or sold locally to a friend, so it's unusual for one to fall into dealer hands, unless it was just an ignorant trade-in. Check for accidents and rust, then on engine upkeep. I believe one of the photos does show rust beneath the rear window. If it all checks out though, this is a rare vehicle in decent shape and a nice color combo. The dealer doesn't list a price, but with the mileage at 150,215 you want to snag it for less than your average new 4wd SUV. Then, pack your bags, bring your family and go on a adventure and blast Steve Moore or Music For Airports-era Brian Eno on the speakers.

The craigslist ad is here and the dealer ad is here.

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