Build or Buy: VanaCamper? CampAgon?

We’re all familiar with #vanlife, right? The tricked-out rigs many have built are stupid-expensive. But if you’re looking for outdoorsy adventures, and want a little more comfort and can tolerate less offroady capabilities, here’s a new option. Take one decent Vanagon, chop off the rear, and slap on an RV shell. And as is the custom with this series, we’ve found one built, and another that’s a great build-it-yourself candidate. You’ll need to figure out what to call it though: is it a VanaCamper or a CampAgon?

Argument: Build
Article: 1982 Vanagon Diesel

The key to any project is the condition of the vehicle, right? This ’82 ticks all the boxes: runs, stops, no accidents, and just a tiny bit of rust. And that rust spot will be cut out, so who cares? Actually, the whole back will be cut off.

If you aren’t into major surgery, the spartan interior is perfect for a camper conversion. The middle seat was removed, and the rear folds down to make a bed.

The seller is moving to Alaska, and is hoping to sell this van before leaving, so the price is low. For only $4000 this van can be yours. Take a look at the ad on This ’82 diesel is in Los Banos, CA.

Argument: Buy
Article: 1980 Vanagon Autovilla Camper

What, you’ve never heard of an Autovilla camper? Originally from South Africa, Autovilla (car home?) grafted an RV cabin to a standard Vanagon. It’s similar to a pickup-style camper, but not removable. The obvious benefits here are the simplicity of the VW drivetrain, with more spacious living quarters. And it’s easy to drive and park.

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of photos in the ad. And the description is brief. This, of course, leads to many questions. What’s the layout/floorplan? Is there a full bathroom? It looks like a chemical toilet in the one (very blurry) photo. Is that a sleeping bunk over the cab (don’t try to sit up in the middle of the night)? What’s with skunks?

See the ad for yourself on eBay. This right-hand-drive ’80 RVW (see what we did there?) is in Earl, North Carolina. Current asking price: $25,000.

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