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.
- 67 hp, 2.0-liter fuel-injected flat four-cylinder engine
- Four-speed manual transaxle
- Desirable ‘L’ trim
- Assuan Brown over ‘Van Dyke’ pattern fabric
- Built in October 1980
- Front disc brakes and rear drums