A van is not everybody’s purveyor of a good time, but spend a weekend camping or cruising trails in a Volkswagen Syncro… and you just might have a change of heart. These plucky all-wheel-drive Vanagons made landfall in the US in 1986. Though they didn’t sell like hotcakes, they have enjoyed a fiercely cult-like following.
This 1987 Vanagon Syncro came up for sale on eBay. It has lived in Southern California for much of its life, shows 123,000 miles on the clock, and looks about as showroom fresh inside and out as can be. Don’t mind us, we’ll just be reminiscing the late ’80s for a bit.
While the Syncro came into existence in the mid ’80s, its birth dates back to the late ’70s. A group of Volkswagen’s chief engineers – overland explorers at heart – expressed interest in developing a four-wheel-drive system for the automaker’s light truck division. Despite tight budgets, the small team pieced together a few prototypes. Tweaks and changes were made to the standard Type 2 vans, including a one-inch ride height lift, gas tank relocation, and a new viscous coupling to drive all wheels, but in 1985 the Vanagon Syncro began to roll out.
This US-spec Syncro packs the standard issue 2.1-liter flat-four engine, along with the desirable locking rear axle. The current owner added 2-inch lift GoWesty springs along with grippy Hankook mud tires on 15-inch wheels, which should help improve its off-road abilities.
It certainly won’t bomb you around the dunes like a trophy truck – you’ll need hands and feet to count its zero to 60 mph time – but for a utilitarian family van, it sure gets the job done. And if you opt for a coveted Westfalia Syncro camper, it’ll deliver the comforts of home to any trail of your choice.