1986 Volkswagen Vanagon Overview


Looking for a Used Vanagon in your area?

CarGurus has 19 nationwide Vanagon listings and the tools to find you a great deal.


Not sure what you want?

Find the models that are right for you using the CarGurus Car Finder.



Camper Passenger Van
Camper Syncro 4WD Passenger Van
GL Camper Passenger Van
GL Camper Syncro 4WD Passenger Van
GL Passenger Van
1 national listing
GL Syncro 4WD Passenger Van
L Passenger Van

Volkswagen Vanagon Experts

#1 Scott Sr.
Scott Sr.
Reputation 600
#2 Ryan Redenbaugh
Ryan Redenbaugh
Reputation 180
#3 JamieL
Reputation 130
View All

Average User Score

3.25 stars

Based on 4 reviews

Great For Burning Man by huertat
 — It's been a real good van, just need something smaller. Kids have grown and going off to college. I just drive it back and forth to work. It's been real realiable, i know someone can have some real f... Read More
You Need To Be Familiar With All Aspects Of Vw Maintenance Or Great Vw Mechanic by Brian
 — 1986 AWD Sycro Versatile, 4wd great for touring, camping, hauling kayaks or lumbar. Weak brakes, takes inclines in 3rd gear no power on high end. Cost plenty to maintain due to age and lack of avail... Read More
Well Worth Refurbishing by Redsky13
 — With the conversion to a Subaru engine the performance makes it drive like a new vehicle. Strong and quiet. All the camping gear is in good order including the fridge. It is great for camping and has ... Read More

1986 Volkswagen Vanagon Overview

Overall User Score

3.2 out of 5 stars3.2 out of 5 stars3.2 out of 5 stars3.2 out of 5 stars3.2 out of 5 stars3.25

Based on 4 reviews

1986 Volkswagen Vanagon

Several features distinguish the 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon from previous models. Perhaps the most significant upgrade was a more powerful engine. Starting in 1986 and continuing through the end of its U.S. run in 1991, the Vanagon was equipped with a 2.1-liter water-cooled four-cylinder engine that generated 95 horsepower, up from 83 horsepower the previous year. The engine used an updated fuel-injection system called the Digifant.

A four-speed manual transmission was standard, while a three-speed automatic was optional. The rear-wheel-drive vehicle was also equipped with rack and pinion steering, power-assisted brakes, and front and rear independent suspension.

The '86 Vanagon also came with rectangular rather than round headlights, which distinguished the late-'80s models from the early-'80s versions. And from 1986 on, the Vanagon came with an optional air conditioner that was significantly improved over earlier versions.

The Vanagon was available in a number of different trim packages, including the standard Vanagon L, the higher-end GL, the Vanagon Camper, and the GL Camper. A limited-edition Wolfsburg Edition was also available in mid-1986.

Standard features included front bucket seats, leatherette upholstery, carpeting, tinted glass, a rear window defogger, and a padded instrument panel. The Vanagon GL added deluxe front seats and  velour upholstery, among other features. Synchro all-wheel-drive was also available on certain models.

While drivers appreciated the Vanagon's flexibility and functionality, many also noted that it often needed expensive repairs. The manual transmission and cylinder heads in particular were noted by drivers as commonly needing repairs.


What's your take on the 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon?

People researching a 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon contacted a dealer about

Picture of 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon, exterior
Volkswagen Vanagon
19% of the time
Ford F-150
4% of the time
Volkswagen Passat
4% of the time
Looking for a Used Vanagon in your area?
CarGurus has 19 nationwide Vanagon listings and the tools to find you a great deal.

Volkswagen Vanagon Questions


1. Is A 1986 Vanagon Watercooled? Inline? How Can I Find Bhp?

6 views with 1 answer (last answer 2 weeks ago)

Two Fuel Filters?

I am replacing the fuel filter on a 1986 VW Vanagon GL and I notice that there is a white plastic box in the fuel line before the main fuel filter. I have been told that some Vanagons have two fuel ...

296 views with 3 answers (last answer 11 months ago)

Need Free Wiring Diagram For Ignition Plug. Any Online?

506 views with 2 answers (last answer about a year ago)

Where Can I Get Awiring Diagram For A 1986 Vw Vanagon Free

1986 wiring diagram for vw

224 views with 2 answers (last answer 2 years ago)

Can You Tell Me What Might Be Wrong With This 86 Vanagon Engine?

hi. i found this 86 vanagon for sale on my local craigslist. he's asking 3000. the bus looks to be in good shape cosmetically, and he says it's been well taken care of and put in over 3k in parts, B...

512 views with 1 answer (last answer 3 years ago)