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Old 03-17-2012, 07:13 PM
outdoortactical outdoortactical is offline
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Default Daily driver: Vw diesel vanagon or Chevy M1009 blazer



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Hey Gentlemen, I don't post much here but I do visit this forum often for information. I need a new daily driver that will double as a BOV and I have a general list of "wants" for my car. It seems that it is impossible to find a car in the U.S. with all of what I want.
I definitely want a diesel. MPG is important as this will be my daily driver, and I want this car to be very reliable. If I had any choice in the world it would probably be a toyota hilux diesel, but those aren't sold in the U.S. so not a option. I have a fairly limited budget of around 7K to spend.
The two cars I think I've come down to are: Chevy m1009 Blazer (1980s) or a VW vanagon diesel 1.6 (1980s too).

Which of these cars should I go with based on: Reliability, cost and ease of fixes (I like to be my own mechanic), BOV potential, Biodiesel/WVO use, ability to live in (I might be homeless soon).
I know that the m1009 is 4x4 and the vanagon isn't, but the vanagon does have more space for living in. I can't seem to decide. Any opinions would be appreciated. Thanks a lot.
Old 03-18-2012, 05:47 PM
outdoortactical outdoortactical is offline
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seriously, no responses?
Old 03-18-2012, 06:08 PM
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DANKELLY125 DANKELLY125 is offline
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I would choose the 4x4 if it was my decision...
Old 03-19-2012, 09:05 PM
bcr229 bcr229 is offline
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We have a 1984 M1009 and while it's a great vehicle, it was designed for function and not comfort. Driving it in hot weather isn't really comfortable (no A/C), and if your commute involves a lot of high-speed interstate driving, you'll be in the right lane with the governed big trucks.

That said, if you need to drive in snow, sand, or mud, or hop curbs, get the CUCV.
Old 03-19-2012, 09:25 PM
Tackleberry41 Tackleberry41 is offline
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Good luck even finding a diesel vanagon. I worked at VW dealers, European import repair shops. I had 3 diesel rabbits, one a pickup truck that I changed over to gas, sold it after driving it 14 years. But I have never actually seen a diesel vanagon. Seen them in repair manuals just never seen one in person. They were not that common when new. Alot of diesel rabbits couldn't get out of their own way much less adding another 2000 lbs to the equation, so they were not popular here. Europe they were used as delivery vans.

Parts would be an issue. Your neighborhood place lists few parts for stuff like that much less stock any. They had some parts in common with rabbits others specific to the vanagon. One reason I got rid of my rabbit was it was getting hard to find stuff for it. At one time they were common, buy a junk one strip it or visit a pull a part place. But now its rare to even see a rabbit or vanagon. I looked for several years for a blower motor for mine to no avail. Cars with no AC no problem, with AC forget it. I bought the last 2 VW pickup truck tail lights in the US at one point. They hadn't made them in a long time when those were used up that was it.

I still have a bus shell at the house, turned it into a place to shoot/hunt from. To expensive to restore and get running. So I painted it camo and put it on blocks looking down a power line easement, the anti-bus. Got some offers to sell the shell but the little money offered wouldn't buy the lumber to build something similar. Plus its on wheels so can be moved if need be.
Old 03-20-2012, 02:10 AM
outdoortactical outdoortactical is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tackleberry41 View Post
Good luck even finding a diesel vanagon. I worked at VW dealers, European import repair shops. I had 3 diesel rabbits, one a pickup truck that I changed over to gas, sold it after driving it 14 years. But I have never actually seen a diesel vanagon. Seen them in repair manuals just never seen one in person. They were not that common when new. Alot of diesel rabbits couldn't get out of their own way much less adding another 2000 lbs to the equation, so they were not popular here. Europe they were used as delivery vans.

Parts would be an issue. Your neighborhood place lists few parts for stuff like that much less stock any. They had some parts in common with rabbits others specific to the vanagon. One reason I got rid of my rabbit was it was getting hard to find stuff for it. At one time they were common, buy a junk one strip it or visit a pull a part place. But now its rare to even see a rabbit or vanagon. I looked for several years for a blower motor for mine to no avail. Cars with no AC no problem, with AC forget it. I bought the last 2 VW pickup truck tail lights in the US at one point. They hadn't made them in a long time when those were used up that was it.

I still have a bus shell at the house, turned it into a place to shoot/hunt from. To expensive to restore and get running. So I painted it camo and put it on blocks looking down a power line easement, the anti-bus. Got some offers to sell the shell but the little money offered wouldn't buy the lumber to build something similar. Plus its on wheels so can be moved if need be.
Some useful information, thanks. There is someone near where I live selling a vw diesel vanagon for 6,500. New paint job, and I test drove it, it runs just fine. Not sure if I should buy it because like you said, parts seem to be hard and expensive to find.
I'm just ****ing ****ed that there's no readily available 4x4 suv in diesel that gets decent gas mileage for me to buy. I'm sick of the fact that if you want a 4x4 diesel, you need to get a gas guzzler. I want something with 30+ mpg!
Old 03-20-2012, 09:32 AM
Tackleberry41 Tackleberry41 is offline
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That would be an American thing. Diesels never caught on here like they did other places. Here they are pretty much a big truck thing, so not that great of mileage but great at hauling things. They are all going to be big V8 engines. Now in Europe where gas is 5$ plus a gallon, and most don't care about the quarter mile speeds of a car to get groceries small diesels are very popular.

There was that botched attempt GM made in the 80s, but it was still a V8. They were terrible cars. My rabbits could if tuned right get 48-50 MPG. They were also pretty quick. I could run 80MPH and still get close to 40 MPG. The camshaft timing is infinitely adjustable so you could add a few degrees so they would spin up faster, not be so diesel sluggish. And you could mess with the pump timing really easy. The diesel and gas engines were nearly interchangeable. You could with surprising little work put a gas head on a diesel engine the 15-1 or so compression wasn't an issue, had to run racing gas but was really quick as you might imagine.

After working on German cars I never understood why American cars had to be so specialized. You can put just about any VW engine from 1974-today in a rabbit. All the bolt holes are there on the block to fit in various cars. Just change which holes you bolt the mounts to, ready to go. US cars even among a brand engines won't fit in other models. This engine fits in that car and thats it. You need adapters or cut and weld. I went to the junkyard and got a VW engine to convert my truck, no worrying about what year or car it came out of. 1.7 gas inline VW, okay that will work.
Old 03-20-2012, 03:48 PM
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i had a diesel vw vanagon on my list, but in my area (DC) i couldn't find one for under 10k that ran. too much niche demand not enough supply.

MPG is a tall order. with your budget you can get an older 2500 cummins dodge, and with some mods, you can get north of 24mpg on the highway not sure around town (i did 3 long road trips in one 10 yrs ago, so i saw the mpg myself)

i had to drop diesel from my list. the military choices above are still viable, but they're much bigger and heavier than a vanagon, and 30Mpg still seems high for them to reasonably attain.
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:29 PM
outdoortactical outdoortactical is offline
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Ya that military blazer is pretty big and heavy. I think that even though it may be harder to get parts for, I might buy that diesel vanagon if the guy hasn't sold it yet. The vanagon seems simpler and easyer to remove the engine/trans. etc. The engine is way smaller and lighter than those big V8 diesels.
Like Tackleberry said, I guess if the vanagon diesel engine blows I can always go to the junk yard and just find any diesel vw engine around-maybe throw a tdi in or something and get power and mpg. It shouldn't be too much of a hassle doing a engine change in the thing.
Old 03-21-2012, 10:50 AM
Tackleberry41 Tackleberry41 is offline
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Its not. I used to be able to get the drive train out of a rabbit in about 35 minutes. You won't be able to get a rabbit engine from a junkyard engine anymore. To much aluminum in the cars, they scrap them pretty quick. But yea a modern diesel is pretty much the same thing, you can even convert them over to the older style non computer injection pumps if you wanted to. The newest stuff is all rail direct injection you would need the computer and high pressure fuel pump. They run at over 1000 psi in the injection rail.
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:14 PM
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I researched this a while ago and only way you are going to get all of the options that you really want is to build it yourself or import a vehicle

I thought of importing a front clip off a ford ranger diesel (2.8 TDI Cummings)to put in my 2003 ranger but it would cost me more than it was worth at that time so I was going to wait until I needed a replacement for the engine and then do it.

Alas I got rearended and the truck is totalled.....

I've also seen http://www.acmeadapters.com/index.php?sound=Y and far as I can see the cheapest option if the vehicle fulfills your needs.

Good Luck

Nick
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