1981 Volkswagen Vanagon Overview


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1981 Volkswagen Vanagon Overview

After introducing its Vanagon in 1980, Volkswagen made no changes to the vehicle for 1981. In fact, there's almost no way to distinguish the 1981 model from the '80 models. Somes experts point out that the only way to tell the difference is to refer to the each model's vehicle identification number (VIN).

The rear-wheel-drive Vanagon was available in four editions for 1981 -- the standard Vanagon, the higher-end Vanagon L, and two camper models. All came with a 67-horsepower, 2.0-liter, air-cooled four-cylinder engine with fuel injection. It was linked to a four-speed manual transmission, which was standard. A three-speed automatic transmission was available as an option.

The Vanagon was fairly well equipped with rack and pinion steering, power-assisted brakes, and front and rear independent suspension. Standard features also included front bucket seats, a rear window defogger, two-speed windshield wipers, vinyl upholstery, and a folding rear bench seat that provided additional cargo space. Air conditioning and a rear window wiper were among the options. The Vanagon L added two-tone exterior paint, carpeting, and a lockable glove box, among other features.

The Vanagon was not without its quirks. Because the engine was in the back, a full-size spare tire was stored in a tray under the front of the vehicle. The battery was located under the front passenger's seat, and the master cylinder for the braking system was located inside the dashboard, requiring some dismantling of the dash to get to the brake fluid reservoir.


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Volkswagen Vanagon Questions

Why Won't My Clutch Engage?

1981 VW Vanagon has had the following issues in last 2 weeks: Replaced points & Distributor condenser, coil, starter connectors, fuel filter. finally got it running, went to take test drive-Clutch ...

213 views with 1 answer (last answer 2 years ago)

1981 Vanagon Lurching

My 81 vanagon won't go past certain speeds. Raining this morning, it was REALLY bad. Feels like a fuel flow problem, but I replaced the fuel filter, and I smell gasoline. The engine just chokes at a l...

338 views with 1 answer (last answer 5 years ago)

Instrument Cluster To Replace

Hi, Wehave to replace ourvanagon cluster 1981. What years could fit in it?

491 views with 2 answers (last answer 5 years ago)

Why Does My Van Sound Like Its Running Out Of Gas And Dies And It Has A Ful...

385 views with 1 answer (last answer 9 years ago)

I Have A 1981 Vw Vanagon (stock Air Cooled) That Has Been Running Great But...

I haven't worked on VW in the last 30 years, I don't want to remove and replace stuff (parts store is a 12 mile walk to get there.

139 views with 4 answers (last answer 2 years ago)