1981 MODEL YEAR OVERVIEW
1981 was the second year for the Vanagon model in the USA. In 1980 the Vanagon replaced the venerable "Bus", known by nicknames such as "Breadloaf" and "Bay Window" that was produced during the 1970s.
As in 1980, the same four models of the Vanagon were built for model year 1981.
- Vanagon (7 and 9 seat variations)
- Vanagon L (7 and 9 seat variations)
- Vanagon Camper P22
- Vanagon Camper P27
Volkswagen sold 11,479 Vanagons in the USA in model year 1981.
(According to CarSalesBase.com)
Notable 1981 features:
There were no significant changes to distinguish the 1981 models from their 1980 predecessors. Small changes were the availability of two new paint schemes on the passenger vans, Ivory and Ivory over Agate Brown.
All 1981 Vanagons came with one grille at the front of the van, not for cooling air intake, but for interior ventilation. A pair of single round headlights are mounted in the grille. This one-grille look distinguishes all of the air cooled Vanagons from 1980 until 1982, when the air cooled Vanagons were joined by a water cooled diesel option. The single grille of the air cooled vans was discontinued, mid-year 1983 with the introduction of the "waterboxer" engine which replaced the air-cooled option.
On the rear of the van was a "Volkswagen" emblem on left side and a "Vanagon" or "Vanagon L" emblem on the right side. The rear hatch does not have a "VW" logo.
Early 1981 models had cooling air intake grilles with steel louvers that were an integral part of the body on each side of the van, behind the rear-most windows. Mid-year 1981 this louver design changed to use the removable black plastic grilles like all Vanagons after that point.
1981 Brochure Gallery (Click any page to open)
Clips from Volkswagen's 1981 Brochure