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Jay's Van

As a kid I would spend most of my summer weekends camping with my family in various campgrounds around the Northeast. We always had a tow behind camper or a small motorhome of some sort. Being an independent little brat, I usually tried to stay in a tent on my own in the corner of the campsite unless the weather was too cold or wet to convince my parents differently.

During college I got really swept up in the live music scene, going to shows every weekend I could get away from campus. From Jane's Addiction and Primus, to week long stints following Phish or moe. up and down the eastern seaboard. I did my first multi-day music festival during my junior year and realized that it was a perfect blend of two of my favorite things, camping and music.

A few years and about a hundred shows later I found myself tenting in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts during a three day music festival that would turn out to be a complete washout of a weekend. By the end of the first day, everything I owned was covered in mud and soaked thru. I spent the last night trying to find a comfortable way to sleep in my car, then found that most of my belongings had been stolen from my tent when I returned to break it down in the morning. At this moment, I came to the realization that the time had come to get a VW Bus.

It took a few months of looking around before I found my first bus, a yellow and white '72 with a partial camper interior. It was in pretty rough shape, but it was solid enough to work on and the price was right.

I drove the '72 for a while as my primary vehicle and was only stranded a couple times by fairly simple problems. I decided to install a Riviera pop-top on it so I could camp with my girlfriend (now my wife) and my dog in relative comfort and spent lots of time doing all sorts of modifications to make it more comfortable for camping and more dependable as a traveling vehicle. After spending most of its life in the northeast, the bus was slowly rusting away and becoming less viable as a reliable mode of transportation.

One weekend while we were camping in Maine, a guy came by to look at my bus and told me he had a Vanagon Westfalia camper. I had never inspected one up close, so I accepted his invitation to check it out. I was amazed by the excellent utilization of space and was intrigued by the idea of luxuries like power steering and the apparent security of a newer water-cooled engine that was absent in my '72. The search was on for a new ride.

My '85 Westfalia was previously owned by a retired geology professor at the University of New Hampshire, which is only about ten miles away from my home. I went to check the van out, learned that he was the original owner, took it for a nice long test drive and wrote him a check for the full asking price all within about 3 hours. The van had been dealer maintained since new, was always garaged and was mainly driven during summer vacations for long distance rock collecting trips.

I quickly installed a decent stereo system and a few camping accessories. The Vanagon would prove to be an almost ideal platform for weekend getaways with my wife and our dog, outside of the general lack of power and occasional engine problems that are all too familiar to most Vanagon owners. With each year of ownership, the engine problems would become more prevalent and our trust in the van to get us to our destination on time would decrease. The time had come to find a replacement engine for the van. I had read a lot of information on the Subaru 2.2L conversion and was about to pull the trigger on it when I came across bostig while doing some web research. The rest as they say is history...

Jay Brown '85 Zetec Westfalia '87 Zetec Wolfsburg