I posted this on thesamba.com also but considering that I'm strongly considering a SMB, and did the buildouts on both of JBuffett's SMB's, I'd welcome you guys' collective wisdom. Apologies to the mods if I'm posting to the wrong forum spot, but Member Classified is the one I look at a lot - and if I do sell my Westy, I reckon I'd post it up here anyway.
Bottom line Iím at a crossroads with my 1991 VW Westy and would welcome your thoughts.
To start, my Westy is still in really good shape.
Itís this van that was in Outside awhile back.
New tent. 160K miles or so on original motor and tranny and pretty much everything - PW, PDLís, A/C - all work. Iíve also upgraded it substantially with replacement components - basically doing preventative stuff on it. By way of true mods, the only real one is a Truckfridge with a roof solar panel to keep it running on aux battery and a Promariner charger setup. It runs great.
Through the years, Iíve also collected a bunch - a bunch - of spare parts. So I have most bases covered maintenance wise if anything goes wrong on the road (within reason).
So my crossroads is this:
1. The kids are getting bigger. This means that they take up more room on camping trips and are at the point where theyíre going to want to bring friends on campouts - if weíre not camping with our fellow Westy families that is. That means I will soon need to seat six.
The seating issue means upgrades to my own Westy. Rear headrests (I have shoulder belts for the rear to install already). Middle seat with headrests and shoulder belts - which I know arenít even available, but I'm going to have to find a solution - even if it means bolting in a pair of removeable Sprinter seats. My wife insists on shoulder belts and I agree. Other point of course, is that the rear seats aren't really all that great for long trips for bigger kids.
The Westy of course, also, has to be kept in really nice condition (which the wife I insist on as it's the daily driver and Iím a grown up who needs a reliable car) also simply requires regular infusions of cash.
2. My OG motor runs great, but I canít tow the boat with the van (we use the Highlander for that), but would like to at least be able to drop it at the ramp a coupla miles down the road. (21 footer - maybe I could with a Subie transplant and big brakes). Not sure if the current Waterboxer (WBX) would even pull it up the ramp - and I havenít tried. If Iím going to keep the van, Iím figuring on a motor upgrade - probably a 2.5 Subie or perhaps a tencentlife higher horsepower WBX (since I have so many spares).
3. I live in Charleston, which has a wet, humid, rust-inducing climate. Iíve been able to keep the rust at bay to this point because Iím attentive to my van, but I have had to make repairs to seams and window seals - and I know rust is going to become more of a battle over time.
4. I just got back from a trek to England where we rented a mini-RV diesel based on a Fiat Ducato/Ram Promaster. Damn, that thing was impressive and the mileage was phenomenal. Really got me thinking further on the Promaster/$printer (4wd Sprinter particularly) platforms. My neighbor has a Promaster diesel too - a fellow surf trekker. And he loves it.
5. As I said, I have a boat - and only have so much time for tinkering with my machines. Between the Westy and the boat and wanting/needing to do fun stuff with the kids, my spare time is stretched thin.
6. I love my Westy. The vintage iron factor. The maneuverability. The fact that I know it so well and can work on it. The community. That itís not just another damn run of the mill van. That I'm beating back planned obsolescence every time I take the wheel.
7. I also love the idea of a warrantied, modern safety feature-equipped diesel van that I can jump in and go for the next five years or so at least, when the kids (currently 6 and 10) will be at prime camping/adventure age. I could sell my Westy for a decent chunk of change and get a nice down payment into a Sportsmobile or Outside or Leisurevan conversion - finance that for 15 years and have a reasonable car payment on a vehicle that Iíd probably keep for another 15 years. I also think you SMB community folks are a solid bunch.
8. I could also of course, keep putting money into the Westy and keeping it on the road. But as I said, Iím going to have to do some real upgrades for the embiggening kids and their need to travel with friends.
9. The Westy is in fairly primo, sellable condition right now.
Considering all these factors, what would you do? And what else have I not thought of?