1986 MODEL YEAR OVERVIEW
1986 was big year in the evolution of the Vanagon. It marked the beginning of a new engine, an All-wheel-drive system (Syncro) as well as other refinements and improvements. Seven models of the Vanagon were built for the United States market for model year 1986. These were:
Eight paint colors were available:
Pastel White, Merian Brown, Savannah Beige Metallic, Marine Blue, Flash Silver Metallic, Dove Blue Metallic, Bronze Beige Metallic, and Wolfram Grey Metallic.
Not all colors available on all models.
Volkswagen sold 12,288 Vanagons in the USA in model year 1986
(According to CarSalesBase.com)
Notable 1986 features:
There are several significant features to distinguish a 1986 from earlier years.
The most significant are:
- 2.1 liter Engine with Digifant fuel injection, compared to the 1.9 liter Digijet
fuel injected engine in the 1983.5 - 1985 vans
- Rectangular primary headlights, separate square high beam lights (1986 - 1991)
- 2 Black plastic front grilles (1983.5 - 1991)
- Syncro all-wheel drive models available for the first time
The 1986 six-seater Campers (2WD and Syncro) are described in the brochure with the word "base" to distinguish it from the four-seater Camper GL, which also included a kitchen. Although not described in the brochure as a Wolfsburg Edition, these models included the Wolfsburg emblems and the Owner's Manual Supplement describes them as the Wolfsburg Edition. Unlike other Wolfsburg Limited Editions which become available mid-year, the 1986 Wolfsburg Camper was available form the beginning of the model year and was very much like the 1985.5 edition which preceded it. Owners often refer to these six-seater Campers with the nickname "Weekenders".
1986 Visual Cues:
The quick and obvious way to distinguish 1986 & later Vanagons from 1985 & earlier models is that beginning in 1986 VW used a pair of rectangular headlights on each side of the upper grille. These replaced the single round headlights used in previous years. The rectangular outside lights house the regular headlights a high-beam function while the squarish inner lights are additional high-beams.
1986 vans kept the upper grille at the front of the van for interior ventilation with a second, lower grille that provided cooling air for the front-mounted radiator. This two-grille look distinguishes all of the water-cooled Vanagons from the older 1980 - 1983 air cooled models.
Like other 1984 to 1987 models, the emblem on left side of the hatch included a VW logo followed by the word Volkswagen
As with all Vanagons beginning in 1982 through 1991, the 1986 models had removable black plastic cooling air intake grilles on each side of the van, behind the rear-most windows.
1986 Brochure Gallery (Click any page to open)
Clips from Volkswagen's 1986 Brochure
Next and previous years