Baywindow Model Comparison

by Richard Atwell
(c) Copyright 2005-2011


Now is a great time to get a baywindow. The pre-68 splitwindow buses are hard to find and expensive but baywindows are plentiful, inexpensive, practical and fun. Quality German made parts are still available and they are inexpensive to operate.

Like any other VW, it was the source of constant upgrades. I've collected together this list of important changes to help you decided which model is right for you the next time you are in the market to buy one. As with most things in life, there is no perfect model because of tradeoffs. Hopefully this list will help narrow down the choices.

Comparison Table:

Features 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
Campers 2 2 X X X X
Heating X X X X X X
Fuel economy X 2 X 2 2
Exhaust X X X X 2 2 2 3 3 3 3
Safety X X X X X X X
Brakes 2 2 X X X X X X X
Trans X X X X
Power 2 2 2 2 X X X X
Seat swaps X X X
Servicing 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
Maintenance X X
Engine removal X X X X
Engine parts X X X X X
Smog X X X X X X X X

Legend: X means best choice; 2 means 2nd best choice, etc.

Best years overall:

Generally speaking these two years are the most popular. They sold in large numbers compared to most of the other model years and offer the most bang for your buck if you examine the table above.

Best year for campers:

The late model Westfalias have the most flexibility for cargo, sleeping space and standing room.

Worst years for campers:

Best years for heat:

The later models used the Eberspacher BA6 gas heater that puts out 24,000 BTUs. Glow plugs are still available and there is only one to buy.

Best years for fuel economy:

1968 - 1974 have a slightly larger 15.9 gal fuel tank instead of the 14.6 gal fuel tank introduced with the FI models in 1975.

Best years for exhaust:

These exhaust system parts are the most common. VW used a US-specific exhaust during 75-78 which is NLA. Luckily you can adapt the parts to all 72-78 models because they share the same oval exhaust port cylinder heads.

Worst year for exhaust:

Best years for safety:

VW upgraded the body to meet FMVSS crash safety requirements. The have the best bumper and lighting systems.

Best years for brakes:

Disc brakes were introduced in 1971 but they were increased in size in 1973. Tandem master cylinder was introduced in 1970.

Best years for transmission:

091 transmission is already a "freeway flier" and needs no upgrades. 1976 also introduced the beefier 010 automatic transmission.

Best years for torque and HP:

The 1971cc Type 4 engine produces 67HP and 101 ft. lbs of torque with Bosch L-Jet (AFC) Fuel Injection system.

Best years for seat swaps:

The seat rails change mid-year in 1976 with VIN 216 2078 000 that allow you to use later model Vanagon seats.

Best years for maintenance:

You can't be the convenience of hydraulic valves (especially if you have an EGR filter installed). Full flow case was introduced in 1972 with the Type 4 engine.

Worst years for maintenance:

Best years for engine removal:

All buses with original Type 1 engines have a removable apron that lets you slide the engine straight back. Type 4 models require you to jack up the rear end, Porsche style, to R&R the engine.

Best years for engine parts:

Type 4's are the ugly step child of the VW world. Far more people rebuild and sell parts for Type 1 engines. VW of Mexico turnkey Type 1 engines are still available for about $2000.

Best years for smog:

In Oct 2004, AB2683 froze the smog exemption that SB42 introduced in CA. If you have a 76 or later vehicle you will have to continue to smog it every two years.

Models caveats:


03/22/05 - Created
05/06/09 - Added table to clarify choices
09/07/11 - Fixed broken photos, added translate button, updated footer
07/15/19 - Google update: new adsense code, removed defunt translate button