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Old 07-13-2017, 07:28 PM   #1
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New Guy Seeking Some Guidance

Greetings all- Thank you for having me. I'm currently listed as the owner of a 1986 Volkswagon Vangaon Syncro. I can hear you all say, "well, why are you here?" The answer is simple- I love my Vanagon, but I'm thinking about moving into something more of this century. I've done many upgrades - Subie 2.5, Recaro Seats, North American High Top, rebuit Trans, etc. But I also have some health issues which are slowing me down when it comes to maintenance of a 31 YO vehicle.

I've always oooo'd and aaaah'd at the Sportsmobile and am currently looking at various ads. I'm seeking some advice on which diesel would be best, year?

Right now I'm looking at used early to mid 2000's 4wd, Penthouse top, don't need a lot of inside bells and whistles - things like a microwave are not needed. Heat is good! AC I can live without.

Anyway, what I hope to gain from this post is getting pointed in the right direction. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks- Brian
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Old 07-13-2017, 08:50 PM   #2
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Brian, where are you? I'm in Tennessee and a VW fan as well. I just finished rehabbing an 86 Westy 2wd and am enjoying it lately.

The best diesel years are 2002/2003, the last year of the 7.3l. Unless you are independently wealthy, infinitely patient and enjoy breakdowns and bad news from mechanics I would strongly recommend you stay away from the 6.0l diesel engines. You can find one completely bulletproofed (which is where they take a 6.0 and make it reliable like a V10 ) but they aren't cheap and maintenance will still always be much more than a gas motor. I'm sure some others will disagree but do yourself a favor and do your homework on the 6.0 before you get sold on one.

I will very soon have for sale a freshly converted 98 4wd Ford van, silver V10 with only 80k. It has not hit any classifieds yet but will when I finish it in a few weeks. I'm going in another direction instead of building it out. Anyway, if you're not interested you can definitely find what you are interested in around here.

Just read up here and on the Expedition Portal '2/4 wheel drive camper vans' section and you'll learn a ton.

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Old 07-16-2017, 11:45 AM   #3
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Greetings 86Scotty-

Thank you very much for your feedback and direction. I appreciate your input. I've had enough mechanical bad news this past year so I'll heed your advice on the 6.0. Not to mention not being independently wealthy. And to answer your question, I'm just about 20 miles north of Santa Fe, NM.

I'd heard similar info/reliability issues on the 6.0 but was wondering why there were so many out there considering the problems. Also, I now understand why those selling a 6.0 have the term bulletproofed included when upgrades for reliability have been done. Another important safety tip!

In some prior research, there seems to be jousting back and forth between the 5.9 and 7.3l motor groups. Both sides claiming excellent motors with the big advantage of the 5.9 being it is smaller in the motor compartment and thus has more room in there to work. However, I've not seen any ads for a Sportsmobile with a 5.9.

A quick question for the group- what sort of mpg will the 7.3 get under normal (not towing) driving conditions?
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Old 07-16-2017, 04:38 PM   #4
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I've never owned a diesel so I'm not trying to answer your question but I can say you're going to get answers all over the map. The 7.3 is in so many different types of vans. A high roof 4wd with roof rack (common SMB setup) is going to be way worse than a 2wd pop top without all the bling hanging off, also a common enough SMB setup. That said I think the best ones will yield upper teens towards 20.

Also, on the 6.0, Ford made millions of them and lots run around their whole lives without a hitch, so the owners don't get on forums to commiserate and get help. You're screwed. You got on a forum for help before you even purchased so without a doubt you'll have trouble if you buy one!!! see what I did there?


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Old 07-17-2017, 10:25 AM   #5
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Oops. Guess I jumped the gun and am now jinxed! Upper teens/20 not so bad. Syncro gets about 20/22, 17 when I tow my little trailer. If I keep it, new tires will soon be in order and I'll drop the size from 235/75/15 to 215 or maybe 225. The smaller tires may help with mpg. Thanks again
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian505 View Post
Greetings 86Scotty-
A quick question for the group- what sort of mpg will the 7.3 get under normal (not towing) driving conditions?
I just got through my first tank on my 2003 7.3l diesel and calculated that i got about 16mpg. It is 2wd and basically empty since I am just starting my build. I usually drive 70-75 on the freeway so certainly not optimal for maximizing the mpgs... would probably do better if i was a little more conservative haha.
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