87 Syncro

It was over two years ago (August 2012) that we were frantically flying around a little apartment in Alexandria, Virginia working like squirrels trying to get the last nuts packed for an overland journey.  When I say nuts I am referring to Colin, Sprite and myself but I am also referring to all the stuff, the pile of gear, we needed to cram and jam into a rental car that was going to transport us to get our labor of love, the beloved adventure van – June the 87 Syncro Westfalia.  As any adventurer knows, things do not always go as planned…

When June was safely loaded onto a car carrier, destination Colorado, for a full overhaul, the last and furthest possible thought from our minds was that she would end up on that flat bed again, only this time we would pay to have her taken away for good. Sold.  Breaking up is really hard to do.


It didn’t happen overnight.  Nothing good ever does.  It was a process, a process we shared with many of you.  A process many of our friends and family probably don’t care to hear again since they lived it like we did, every detail we shared.  We didn’t just want to invest our hearts and souls (money) into any old vehicle to become our overland rig.  That vehicle has to be reliable, safe, rugged, livable and damn it better be cozy.  It has to get us from here to there and back.  The vehicle we pieced together was almost perfect.  It could do all the things we needed.  Solar, off road, sleeping quarters, self-rescue ability, air-compressor, kitchen, dining, storage, outlets, kill switch, water tank, extra gas tanks and this is only the short list.  It is the vehicle we planned a year to build and the vehicle we spent every last dime building.  Then the leaks started, then this was acting up and that was acting up, then the CV joints failed and the starter went out.  We were stranded and pop-starting so many times it was common practice to park on an incline and turn the key only to hear nothing fire up and without hesitation I would jump in the drivers seat and Colin would make his way to the bumper and start to push.  We got good at pop-starting (too good).  A bad tank here an O2 sensor over there and then something went wrong with the starter…again.  We have heard from several proud Westy owners:

“I love her but she keeps me busy.”

“Never loved a vehicle so much…keep a good mechanic in your pocket.”

“Better get two, one for the shop and one for the road.”

And my favorite;  “Westfalia…more like WILL fail ya.”  

After several thousand miles driven we expected some maintenance, but there is always the invisible line that once crossed it is hard to go back.  Selling our 87’ Syncro would be the start of an even longer journey to find a different vehicle and get back on the ever promising road.

1987 Syncro Westfalia “June”

For those who are curious we added a list of upgrades/tweaks/changes and pictures, see below:

Engine Conversion (Subaru EJ25 Motor)

Charge & Service A/C

Replace Ignition Switch & Add Kill Switch

Rebuild Transmission & Lube Linkage

Add Decoupler/Front Locker

New CV Boots

All New Brakes (Van Café Big Brake Kit)

New Shocks & Springs (Old Man Emu and Syncro.org)

Repair All Seam Rust & Windshield Rust

Line-X Rocker (Lower Portion of Van)

Replace Window Rubber

Spot Paint to Protect Rust Repairs

Replace All Hookups

Replace Bumpers with Go Westy Bumpers

Add Light Bar & Auxiliary Lighting to Front Bumper

Add Swing Away Carrier

Das Mule Rock Sliders

5 Gallon Gerry Cans (2 Fuel & 2 Water)

Install Roof Rack & Rocket Box

Install New 3 Window Pop Top Canvas

Repair Skylight

Add Auxiliary Battery

Add Inverter with Outlets

Install 140 Watt Solar Panel

Replace Fridge

Replace Propane Tank w/New Connections

Replace & Upgrade Insulation

Propex Heater

Install Fiamma 10ft Awning

Pett Porta Potty

Max Trax

High Lift Jack

Custom Attachment Points for Vehicle Recovery

On Board ARB Air Compressor

Treat Under Carriage

8 Comments on “87 Syncro

  1. Nice Job Colin , I am glad to finally see where all the Burley Motorsports parts went that you got from us. Enjoy !!!

    • Thanks man! Love your parts, and look forward to putting a lot of miles on them. I wanted to see if I can buy a couple spare oil pan drain plugs from you. I’ve learned from experience extras are nice. Odd size plugs are hard to find sometimes, and expansion plugs just don’t give me the same level of confidence. Let me know, thanks.-Colin

    • Thanks! We love our little Westy. We have tried to make it as reliable as a Vanagon can be so that we can enjoy our travels on the road and not the side of the road. Thanks for all of the great advice as well, we really enjoy reading up on you guys! Colin and Carrie

  2. Nice work!
    Did you do all the rebuilds & installation yourself?
    Did you leave the westy interior close to stock?
    Care to share budget & timetable for those of us doing our own VW restoration?

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