Having owned both a 1977 Volkswagen Camper and a newer 1986 Volkswagon Camper, it’s clear that the Germans made a huge number of design improvements over the years. The new model campers have actual heat that works, a water-cooled engine that can handle sitting in a bit of traffic before it overheats and other small touches in the cockpit area that make it more comfortable to drive.
However, one area where VW really took a step backwards over the years was in replacing the old style jalousie windows with the newer sliding windows. The new style sliding windows just don’t offer nearly the ventilation that the jalousie windows do. Also, you can keep the jalousie windows opened in the rain and the van stays dry, not so with the new sliding windows that Volkswagen put in the Vanagons.
So when I read a thread on the samba about how it is possible to replace the newer sliding windows with jalousies I started keeping my eyes opened for a used pair of jalousies in good shape.
Earlier this year I found a pair for sale on Facebook and set up an appointment to bring the van over to Kevin Mayer’s garage in Philadelphia. Kevin has jalousies in his Vanagon and given all the aluminim riveting and fabrication involved with the window swap I figured it was a safer bet to have Kevin do them instead of trying to do it at home by myself.
It took 3-4 hours to do both sides. The passenger side was more difficult because you need to grind off a bit of the aluminum frame from the jalousies as this window opening is smaller than the driver’s side window.
Since installing the windows I’ve brought the Vanagon to Greyfox Bluegrass Festival where it was miserably hot and it poured rain one afternoon but I was cool sleeping at night and the van stayed dry with the windows open. A total success and a great modification, highly recommended.