Mike Hong and His 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon Camper

Mike Hong is Arc’teryx’s manager of visual design, a rock and ice climber, and owner of a corgi named Dash. A few months before he moved from Brooklyn to Vancouver in June 2014, he picked up a Vanagon and now uses it for his weekend trips for Smith Rock, Squamish, Vantage, and other places. We asked him to take us inside his 30-year-old rig:

Year, Make, Model
1985 Volkswagen Vanagon Camper

Did you give the vehicle a name?
We haven’t fully committed to a name yet, but we’ve been warming up to Charlie (Brown) lately.

Years owned
1 year 8 months


How did you get it?
Like most Vanagon origin stories start out, I had been searching for one for awhile…lurking on TheSamba.com classifieds and checking craigslist ads all over North America. Just before leaving from home in Brooklyn for a long weekend to climb at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if there was anything in the vicinity that fit what I was looking for. Turns out there was an amazing one that I was lucky enough to get first dibs on and I cut one of our few climbing days short to make the extra five-hour round trip drive to go see it in person. Three weeks later I had the title, it spent four months in queue at a Vanagon shop in Virginia (shoutout to the awesome guys at Valley Westys/Complete Auto Repair in Staunton, Virginia), another month getting worked on, and finally six months after first seeing the classifieds ad my friend and I took the train down from NY to VA to drive it back home (I didn’t know how to drive stick at the time so I needed a little help getting it back).

How did you modify it?
So far no real modifications to speak of, the Westfalia has just about everything we need for all of our adventuring… sleeps four adults with the top popped and has plenty of room for all our gear and two dogs! The previous owner did convert the engine to a 2.5L Subaru which bumps us from the stock 90hp to 170hp, awesome for hill and highway driving. I also also hacked together a cup holder/console with some spare wood I had lying around before the big cross country move/roadtrip…can’t pull 3,500 miles without a good beverage holder!

How many states has the vehicle visited?
17 states, 1 province, 2 countries


Rock climbing, camping, hiking, cycling, etc. Will need some wheel/tire upgrades before we attempt to go ski/riding or ice climbing with it.

It’s a Vanagon! On top of it being a mini RV that fits in a standard size parking space, there’s an amazing built in community. I don’t know how many friendly conversations we’ve had, nods, waves and honks we’ve exchanged!

It’s a Vanagon! Any 30-year-old vehicle will have its gremlins, Vanagons are no exception.


mikehong8Find Mike at heymikehong.com and on Instagram/Twitter at @mikey_hong / @mikeyhong 

Overlandia is the art, science, and romance of driving in the dirt. To see more, visit the Overlandia channel page.



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