gti_matt here and I am back in the Eurovan action!
Previously had a 2000 MV that I owned from 2002-2008. Wonderful van but sold it because we didn't think we needed such a big (and expensive) 3rd vehicle and I wanted the cash out of it to finance the Mercedes. However over the past year or so, we did realize that the Eurovan was indeed so very handy because stuffing 3 people in the back of a BMW X3, or any SUV for that matter, really isn't that comfortable, especially when one is a car seat (we go a lot of places with my sister-in-law and her family and they have one kid and a 2nd on the way). So a MPV vehicle really makes sense.
So my thought, while sounding like a downgrade from a 2000 VR6, was to find a '93 I-5 manual transmission Eurovan in clean overall shape for not a ton of money. We kept our search to GL models because of the standard seating. We liked our MV but we never camped in it and the rear-facing center seats were actually a liability - the fronts couldn't be adequately reclined and the rear-facing seats were always too upright.
So after looking on autotrader.com, craigslist, ebay, the winning candidate was Herman the German! (These were the seller's pics...haven't had time to take my own pics since I got home at 10pm last night with him, but heck...he looks the same.) Herman got his name from the previous owner and I like it, so I'm gonna continue calling him that.
He's a '93 with 125K on the clock. Herman appears to have first went into service in New Mexico and spent a good chunk of his life in Las Cruces, NM. He also has spent some time in ABQ and most recently in Tucson, AZ. He's dinged up a bit, rough around the edges outside, pretty clean inside condition-wise for the age but still could use a good wipe-down, but he's generally rarin' to go!
He currently is sporting a MV rear seat and rear shelf and cabinets but I have the original rear seat and will be swapping that back in since I want them to match (MV seat is gray, rest of Herman is tan inside) and I've no use for the MV bed. If the GL seat doesn't interfere w/the MV shelf and cabinets, I might keep those in.
He appears pretty good under the hood...fairly dry everywhere for the most part. Underneath looks dry too. He is missing his belly pan though. I'll probably wait to find one until after I have someone steam clean his engine bay. Got some rust all around the battery area...may have had a battery bubble over at some point. Lots of dusty dirt though from living in the desert.
His A/C needs attention. Drove back in 100F+ heat and the rear A/C was moderately cool (maybe 60F) and the dash A/C maybe about 90F. I got the best results under the circumstances by putting the rear air on high fan, front air on 3 or 2, and hitting the recirc button. I figure that would make the best of what he had given the rear was cooler than the front and so he'd re-cool previously cooled air rather than always be working on 105F outside air. However having passed a few stinky agricultural areas on I-8 driving home, I'm not sure that recirc really worked all that well 'cause I smelled a bit too much manure, etc. from outside.
He's rather leisurely around town, but he's a fabulous highway cruiser. I was worried about the cruising since these rev a bit high but he was revving about the same as RPMs as my old Mk2 GTI and he's not as loud in general, so he was OK for such an old car. For those of you that know the route, I had to take I-8 west from Casa Grande, AZ to San Diego and I was really worried about the steep climb from Ocotillo, CA up ~4100 feet to Jacumba, CA. Herman performed flawlessly and didn't even break a sweat. I had him on cruise at 65mph (speedo reads an optimistic 72mph at that speed according to my TomTom GPS) and he flew up that grade in 5th the whole way. He didn't lose speed on his own at all but I had to tap my brakes to pass someone (truck in front of me and someone flanking me to my left rear that I had to slow down and slide in behind). When I resumed, he didn't really gain speed again though but I just kinda let him do this thing and not push him hard. I also kept the A/C off on this grade as well. His temp needle didn't move very much at all either. (And I believe it's working correctly - in general his gauge seemed to respond realistically with the hills and whatnot...going downhill he cooled off quite a bit, going up he heated up a bit but nothing unrealistic.). When cruising in the desert his gauge usually read at the center tick mark or a little above it. I am estimating this to be about 190-210F based on the 160F and 230F markings on the gauge and assuming the markings are fairly linear. When in the mountains (this was by now at 9pm at night and 4000 feet up and so cooler) and going downhill his temp dropped to about 165-170F and when cruising near sea level in San Diego as I approached home he hovered at the center tick mark and at traffic lights in town went up a little above that. I'm so glad he got me up that grade; that was my #1 fear getting stuck out there in the middle of nowhere. I did have water for me and two bit 2.5-gal containers for him from a grocery store just in case he needed it.
As I said, he's a great cruiser. Lazy around town but on the highway he doesn't so much as accelerate to pass, but he more like "gathers speed" gracefully and reasonably. Not neck-snapping, but while I would rather he cruise at 2500rpm rather than 3500rpm for fuel economy reasons, 3500 does seem to be his "sweet spot" for highway passing. The noise level was acceptable. He was always there as a faint drone, but never too loud. He also just "sounds like a Volkswagen", sort of like if they were ever to make a 5-cylinder Mk2 "JumboGolf", that's exactly what he sounds like. He also rides well. His shocks seem good and he doesn't bob around too much. He doesn't feel that much lighter than my 2000 VR6 did except for feeling less nose-heavy.
Oh and I got 20mpg from Tucson to Yuma too. Pretty good for 100F heat and A/C going the whole time.
I played w/him this morning and gave him a more detailed once-over now that I'm home and in a garage and not in 100F heat on a gravel driveway in Tucson.
In no particular order of anticipated expense and priority:
-- Fuel smell near the tank. Either a leaky cap or something else. I did notice when I filled up in Yuma I made a hard right into the station with 1/2 tank of fuel that when I took the fuel cap off, it was wet inside w/fuel. Also in Tucson when I filled up at the start of the trip, when I took the cap off, I got a "whoosh!" of pressure equalization (but didn't get that in Yuma). Any thoughts? I might fail smog on this in CA if they notice a fuel smell
-- Needs front wipers (getting them today). The desert turned them into spaghetti.
-- Get engine bay steam cleaned. Dust, dust, dust from the desert everywhere.
-- Needs belly pan
-- No reverse lights. Checked the driver's side bulb (easy reach) and is good. Might be a fuse or switch.
-- Needs better spare tire. It's old, dry-rotted, etc. One edge is worn to the belts (from a previous misalignment issue). He tracks fairly well now (slight drift/pull to the right but then again most cars do b/c of the roads being crowned for drainage).
-- Hazard switch came off in my hand and is inoperable
-- GL 3rd row seat missing the plastic shroud around the base. I see lots of GLs missing these so I guess they go missing a lot or break?
-- A/C barely there. Prev. owner said possibly a bad expansion valve. Will have an A/C place look into this.
-- Need to check the timing belt. P.O. says at last mechanic says it was good but I want to check myself and put my mind at ease.
-- Right rear taillight has a small crack/hole.
-- Headlamp pattern is surprisingly good for old-school USA 9004s but intensity could be better. Think I'm gonna add a relayed harness if the voltage drop to the lights is significant. Probably not going to go e-codes b/c of the expense and it's not a huge priority right now.
-- Tires are good but are 94s. I am keeping the air pressure up to the max for now and just being cautious.
-- Seller said he recently did front brakes but I dunno they don't seem that grippy to me. I get some scraping noises too but haven't figured out if it's front or rear. Pedal feels fairly normal though, just nowhere near as grabby as I'd like.
-- P/S fluid flush - kinda looks dirty and given all the dust out there in the desert, don't want a steering rack going bad on me.
-- Grille at the top of the hood cracked
-- both rear cabin interior lights don't seem to stay in very well. not sure if they have broken tabs or...?
-- Missing 1 headrest in back (I think...GLs should have 3 headrests across the back, no?)
-- Would like to swap front seats L --> R. They're mostly OK but just showing slight wear. Since they wear on the outside edges due to getting in/out I'd like to swap 'em before they really get worse.
-- One dash vent grille busted. There was another one with an inoperable thumbwheel to open/close but I took it out and found it was just disconnected...fixed it this morning.
-- Right outer CV boot gooey. Probably torn...happens to all FWD vehicles at some point. Others look OK.
-- Right rear bumper cap appears to have been replaced with a pebble-grain CL cap and painted but I need to tighten it.
-- Front bumper cover loose at right front corner but fixed that this morning...just was off its guide.
-- General vibration when starting him up and some vibration at low RPMs. Might have a bad engine mount or two.
-- Occasionally get a "clunk!" on sharp turns from the front. Could be engine mount (above), CV joint (see above, but those are usually click! click! click!"), or possibly ball joint or some other suspension bushing.
-- Shifter is VERY floppy. Can get all forward gears but reverse is very tricky. Feel is terrible. it's almost as if you get the gear and then when you release the shifter from your hand, it almost feels as if it releases itself from the linkage. When you shift again, it feels as if it almost reconnects itself to the linkage and then engages a gear. I dunno what is "normal" for a MT T4 on this though, given the tall lever. Anyway, could be mostly just a general bushing replacement.
-- Brakes (one more thing). While the pedal feels good, if I'm at a standstill and suddenly stomp on it hard and fast, I feel a "clunk!" in the pedal. Possibly a sticky caliper? Loose caliper? Pedal doesn't sink at all; just feels like there's a blockage or something sticking and a hard stomp unsnags it.
Anyway, that's it! He's getting a bath today after I pick up the new wipers. He's covered in bugs from the trip.
Modified by gti_matt at 10:16 PM 9-27-2009