Nailing this interview with GoWesty has been quite an adventure because they’re really busy getting your bus ready for the season! We’re happy their General Manager Jad could finally answer our questions to learn more about this iconic shop.
Air-cooled or water-cooled?
Let’s be clear: We love all Vanagons-but the early-model Vanagon was a big ol’ box being pushed around by a 2000cc air-cooled engine, and those two things just don’t add to longevity and positive user experience. We typically steer people toward 1986-91 Vanagons with their much-improved ignition, fuel injection, exhaust, and cooling systems-not to mention a higher-displacement 2.1 water-cooled engine from the factory.
What do your employees drive?
About half of our employees drive Vanagons, including a handful of 4WD Syncros. At any given day at GoWesty, you’ll also see a Karmann Ghia, an old Bug, and a smattering of Buses. But most of us drive Vanagons, many of which have been outfitted with GoWesty flagship products: plate steel bumpers, swing-away systems, lifting springs, Fox shocks, and the like.
What’s the story behind GoWesty?
Probably best described in this animated video!
What makes VW vans so popular on the West Coast?
There are a number of things that make VW campers so popular on the west coast. First, we have an almost-unlimited camping season-which is a lot different than our friends on the east coast. There is also a strong surf- and outdoor-enthusiast culture on the west coast, and VW campers are steeped in that lifestyle. Overall, though, we see the VW camper’s popularity growing all across the country, especially with the resurgence of the American road trip and the celebration of our national park system.
What are your most popular products?
Some of our most popular products are GoWesty-designed innovations. We sell an incredible amount of our plate steel bumpers and the swing-away components that can be mounted to our bumpers. Our improved skylight lens also sells really well. Another really popular item is our redesigned Vanagon hook-up boxes. We’ve been working really hard to ramp up our in-house R&D, and I think our customers really appreciate those efforts.
GoWesty has been supporting the vanlife community for a number of years. Who are your top 3 favorite ramblers on the web now?
Our sponsored adventurers are an important part of the GoWesty company culture. Our mission is to help keep these unique, versatile, memory-making machines on the road where they belong, and that’s what we strive to do with the adventurers that we support. I don’t know that I can choose just three of them, because all of them are doing amazing things out in the world.
Our Open Road is an incredible family journeying around South America.
Where’s My Office Now have done an amazing job showing people how to live and work in a van full time.
Alison Travels continues to inspire a whole generation of solo female travelers.
We’ve also teamed up with a couple of incredible musical artists: Gregory Alan Isakov drives the hell out of his Vanagon when he’s out on the road doing solo tours.
Ira Wolf is a young, up-and-coming singer/songwriter who is just heading out on a nationwide tour to support her second album, and she’s driving a GoWesty-built Westy. We have some really exciting new sponsored adventures coming down the line in 2016, too. What can I say? We love and respect all of these folks for who they are and what they bring to the vanlife community.
What’s your favorite camp spots in California?
There are some great off-the-beaten-path spots in Big Sur, and a 2WD Westy will get you to most of them. Of course, if you have a 4WD Syncro, you can get to the really good ones. Anywhere we can pop the top, share some stories around a campfire, and sleep under the stars is a good spot on the coast.
When you sleep in a Vanagon, do you sleep head or feet towards the rear hatch?
In the downstairs bed: head toward the rear hatch. Upstairs bed: feet toward the hatch!