I Think I Might Have to Forget About a GTO

So all that stuff yesterday about a nice GTO or Charger SRT8? I might have to just leave that in my dreams for a while. Sometimes, things aren’t about me. Chris wants to have a vehicle for trips. But she can’t tow the travel trailer. It’s just too…much. So, we need to dump the trailer and get something she can drive. I may have found it, but it’s not an enthusiast’s vehicle.


A local car dealership has a 1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia for sale. The price is steep at $17,000, but it only has 50,000 miles, and the dealer says its very clean and in very good shape. The price is about par for one of these things, and their pretty much unobtainable in the normal course of things. Looking around the various used car sites, I see there are a grand total of five of them for sale in the continental US this evening. So, let’s run through the pros and cons of this little gem.

Pros: There actually are several. It’s a real camper, with a fridge, stove and refrigerator. The pop-top makes it roomy enough to stand up inside. Gas mileage is pretty good, at around 28 MPG. It’s small enough to use as a daily driver, and large enough to be a little house. It will allow Chris and I to take little trips without the effort of hooking up a huge travel trailer. And Chris can drive it by herself if I can’t go. You can actually load it up with stuff so it’s got a lot of practicality for Costco runs and the like.

Cons: Well, let’s not beat around the bush about how much of a turtle this thing is. It’s powered by a 1.6L I4 diesel that puts out 48 HP. Yes. 48. Not 148. It’s not a typo. It’ll do 0-60 in a geologic era. Top speed? I dunno, 60 MPH maybe. On level ground, of course. No air conditioning. Four-speed manual gearbox. It’ll have to be religiously maintained, because it’s 30 years old. Fortunately, it’s the same diesel that was in all the VWs of the era, as well as the Audi 80/2000. So, spare parts won’t be completely unobtainable—though not particularly cheap either.

It’s really a car for Chris. She told me she was sure I would take her car and buy a GTO with it. Ordinarily, she’d be right. If she didn’t want a little camper she could drive, I’d never even consider it. But I love her, so we’re going to take a look at it first thing in the morning, and I might just trade in her Spyder and buy it for her.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.