[T2] Getting a Syncro?

Kevin Guarnotta kevin at guarnottadesign.com
Tue Jan 15 09:49:57 PST 2019

Hi Guys,

I am in the market for a new car. Currently I've got my '78 Westy - which is great for the nicer weather months, and a 2008 BMW 535xi wagon for the winter months. Those are the two I drive most of the time. I also have my '65 Kombi which has become a bit of a garage queen - and my '69 singlecab, which is undergoing a very slow restoration (my fault it is taking so long).

The BMW is getting old, and maintenance costs are going up. I really love driving it, but it is too complicated for me to ever wrench on. I don't really have a passion to work on it.

The '78 is great, kids love it, lots of fun, and very practical. I enjoy wrenching on it a bit. It has essentially been rather reliable aside from a shift coupler. What I don't like - I can't drive it in the winter (salt -> corrosion).  The heat is ok for me - not great, I have gone over all the duct work - I think the only way to improve it at this point would be to replace all the door seals, which is probably where I lose a lot of heat, or install an auxiliary heater. The kids really don't like driving in cold weather in it - otherwise they ALWAYS want to drive in it. It is not 4WD and I drive in the snow & ice in NH. I also don't really need the westy interior, a weekender interior would work better for me.

I'm thinking of selling both the Westy and the BMW and getting a Syncro Weekender- I can drive it all year (YEAH!!!). It is still very functional - lots of room to haul lots of stuff (Think wife, two kids, large dog, and sometimes 2 cellos - or for work).  Maintains all the sleeping options, I can fit more people in it (up to 6 or 7) currently the Westy only really fits 4. Realistically I don't imagine doing any heavy duty off-road driving, but do want to be able to drive in the snow and ice in the winter - also may drive on some kind of rough fire roads - so improved ground clearance would be nice.

I'm looking at different options - and see a lot of different stuff out there. Quite a few have Subaru engines in them, then I see single knob, 2 knob and triple knob options. I don't imagine I need  a triple knob option. Does anyone have experience with a syncro - that could speak to their time driving one? I imagine I would drive in 2WD  most of the time for fuel economy, then I switch to 4wd in the winter? But with the multiple knobs, I am a bit confused as to how you would use this.

Any thoughts you all would like to share about driving a vanagon vs a bay window, or a syncro vw a non-syncro (do you only notice this when on slipper terrain?)

Any specific things to look for or to check when looking to buy a syncro, or a Subaru conversion?

Anything I am not thinking of, that I should be asking? Is this a really dumb idea? It would give me a bit more space in my driveway ;)

-Kevin Guarnotta
Jamaica Plain, MA

'78 Westy
'69 Singlecab
'65 Ez-camper

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