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Can you daily a T3?

Discussion in 'T3 & T4 Tech Help Clinic' started by Slowbrick, Oct 23, 2020.

  1. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Active Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    NSW
    Hi everyone,
    New here but not new to old cars. Ive been thinking about buying a reasonable T3 that will be used for daily duties (about 50km a day). The current daily is a DID Pajero that is perfectly fine but doesnt make a good camper because of how the seats are arranged but it does everything else perfectly.

    I dont mind having to live with old car quirks but would much rather something that is reliable atleast 5 days out of 7. My dad wants to get a T2 eventually when he retires which spawned the idea of me getting a T3 so I could become familiar with the VW platform and figured why not live with one everyday! I do want to be realistic with my expectations and wanted to reach out to some of you who might be using your buses everyday. I have a few questions if you dont mind me asking?

    1. How well can these things tow? I have a 16ft fibreglass boat with a 60hp on the back and use the Pajero to tow it to the ramp about 5km from home which is does with ease. Could a T3 be expected to be able to tow something like that? I also tow 2 dirtbikes regularly about 800km round trip for family gatherings. Again, could I expect the T3 to do this or am I expecting too much from the little bus?

    2. How is the fuel economy? Ive seen numbers online anywhere from 20/100 to 12/100. Right now the Pajero gets about 10/100 but I dont mind spending more on fuel if the T3 makes me smile more.

    3. How reliable are these things? From my research they use a Bosch fuel injection that may or may not be similar to the Bosch LH jetronic or Kjetronic im familiar with having owned and dailied a few old Volvos. Is it reasonably reliable? Also do the engines just "wear out" if you use them too much? Ive heard stories about the aircooled stuff just eventually wearing out from day to day use. This isnt something ive experienced with any of the Volvos ive had and the Paj is in its early 300ks with no signs of slowing down. If I were to replace it with a T3 should I expect to have the engine out for a refresh during my ownership?

    4. Am I crazy to want to replace my for the most part fine DID Pajero with a T3 just for the mere reason of "it will be more fun"? I do intend to take it camping with the dirtbikes and I do like old cars and am no stranger to the pandora's box waiting for you whenever you try to perform simple tasks but im not familiar at all with these old buses and if I'm spending 10 - 15k on one I am a little weary of whether I can expect an enjoyable experience with the usual old car events along the way or if my use case is wrong for the bus and we just wont ever get along.

    Sorry for all the questions and thanks for your time! I plan to go look at a few T3s in my area this week to get a better idea of if I could live with one, or more importantly, if one could live with me!

    Cheers
     
  2. Barry

    Barry Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,178
    Location:
    Abbotsford NSW
    G’day and welcome.
    Good place to come with questions.

    Towing
    They are OK(ish)
    Phil here tows a tinnie but not as big as yours.
    They also have trailed cars with them.

    Economy
    You won’t be getting 10L / 100kms
    Towing urban 20 easy
    Mine is an auto and best I have seen is just shy of 9L

    Reliability
    OK. Mine have been semi dailys
    Need upkeep but I would happily jump in mine and drive anywhere.

    Fun Factor
    They are great.
    Don’t expect air conditioning to be brilliant and unless you want to drop a bomb.
    For more power you could put a Subaru 2.5 but that costs.

    Is keeping both an option?
     
    KahunaKombi and Syncro27 like this.
  3. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Active Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    NSW
    Cheers thanks Barry!

    Most of our cars weve owned havent had AC with the Pajero being the first car weve had that has had consistently working AC. I had a V6 Rodeo for 2 years and it like to drink but was so reliable that I didnt mind the fuel cost.

    I have been tossing up the idea of keeping the Pajero if I were to buy a T3 and the T3 couldnt be shoehorned into the role the Pajero plays now. The problem is that then I would have 5 cars! The reason for thinking about a T3 is that my girlfriend and I are putting together a HQ Panelvan and progress has taken longer than we both thought. She began to raise concerns that she is worried we will be "too old" by the time its done and that it will be hard with a new addition to the family should that happen in the near future.

    This got me thinking, and my Dad has always wanted a T2 but I know nothing about them and buying one outright without selling something else would be a great financial misstep but the T3 would not and I would get exposure to the way they work and also get to know people in the community. If I were to buy a T3 I would most likely own it up until the HQ is put on the road as it is being setup as a camper and with a V8 wont have much trouble in the way to towing.

    The more I think about it, I dont think a T3 would be a suitable outright replacement for the Pajero as its such a versatile vehicle with its main shortcoming being the fact that the interior layout is bad for camping. I could entertain the idea of keeping it and pausing the rego on another car while we own the T3. I do fear that much like old Volvos, I will get the T3 with the intent of it being a temporary fling and still have it in my garage 8 years later :)
     
    Syncro27 likes this.
  4. Wayne murray

    Wayne murray Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,742
    Location:
    Seven hills
    Welcome Slowbrick to the KC,
    I drive a T2 daily ,don't own modern day gizmo. To me they are higher maintenance like oil changing.
    Towing within the cars capacity shouldn't be a problem and driving it to suit conditions.
    Fuel economy and kombis don't normally go together to well, driving around city or towing is going to kill fuel economy compared to open road driving.
    Go for it, you know you want to, so you can enjoy it wherever it takes you.
     
    KahunaKombi and Syncro27 like this.
  5. deeksy62

    deeksy62 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    776
    Location:
    Sawtell
    Welcome Slowbrick,
    I also use my T2 as a daily, have done for the past 5 years, it hasn't been trouble free, but the fun factor outweighs any concerns I have about reliability.
    No AC, but still ok on the North Coast of NSW.
    Most of the maintenance can be done by a self reliant owner, I'm not mechanic but can do the basics to make sure it is OK, tappets, timing, plugs, points, oil, filters etc.
    We use ours for camping, a lot! out of a panel van and a kombi, the kombi wins hands down for camping and touring, although the HQ panel does have its appeal.
    Nothing to lose by giving a T3 a go, not going to lose significant $ if you buy one and don't like it, always a market for good kombi's.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
    Syncro27 likes this.
  6. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Active Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    NSW
    I dont mind having to do maintenance but have come to dislike things that have a steady stream of broken things for no apparent reason. I am reasonably well setup here at home to handle most maintenance tasks on my current crop and am more concerned about if asking a T3 to be on the road everyday is too much of an ask.

    This is the kind of answer i was hoping for in that as long as I maintain it then it should serve me well. I also figured that they wont really lose much more in value so worst case is if we dont like it then we can move it onto another home.

    I had a look in the T3 prices thread and it looks like a decent ready to run example should set me back about 10 - 15k depending on the work done and overall condition. Does this sound fair?

    I was going to look at one this afternoon with a 1.9 and auto. Possibly the worst combination?
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
  7. Grantus

    Grantus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    18,842
    Location:
    Southern ACT
    Welcome to the Kombi Club Slowbrick! :)

    I have a daily T3 for the past 32 years. The key to reliability is, as with any vehicle, preventative maintenance.

    Mine has never been on a tilt tray, due to mechanical failure in the past 430,000kms. However, I do have an exceptional mechanic, and during the regular minor services at 5,000km intervals, and major service at 10,000km intervals, he has more than often been able to identify issues that are minor, and been able to address them before they become major issues.

    The main issue with used T3’s seems to be the lack of maintenance by previous owners, or sub standard repairs by mechanics not totally savvy with VW’s.

    Have a read of this link, and even print it off to take with you as a checklist to do your pre purchase inspection. Although written by a UK T3 guru, Simon Baxter, for the UK market, most of it applies to Australian sold T3’s. In the engine section, all the 2.1’s sold here by VW Australia, had the “MV” Engine.

    https://web.archive.org/web/2015022...ck-yard.co.uk/VehicleSpecific/T3/info/buy.htm

    Good luck with the hunt, so you can then enjoy the ride! ;)
     
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  8. Syncro27

    Syncro27 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,651
    Location:
    Terrigal, NSW Central Coast
    My 2wd auto T3 is my daily and it does quite well.

    It has a tiny coolant leak between the radiator hose and the main coolant pipe but other than that it doesnt leak and goes great.

    Economy is crap as its a stock auto but so much fun and comfortable to drive and they are the most amazingly versatile vehicle.

    Mine had a Tilt Tray ride the other day as my A/C belt failed and took out the main belt and power steering belt along with a coolant hose and the oil dip-stick.

    Lucky I had spare belts and a spare oil dip-stick at home but I couldnt fix on the side of the road.

    Took me half a day to fix including going to Repco and getting a new length of hose, going to Lucky Phils and borrowing his coolant pressure pump and bleeding in 5L of coolant that disappeared on the road on the Tilt Tray's tray on the way home.

    This has happened before to but no as much damage but otherwise its only been the Temp 2 sensor that failed me - but I could drive to the mechanic.

    Parts are still fairly easy to get.

    Otherwise an awesome fun vehicle that actually prefers to be driven daily rather than parked for long periods.

    I wouldn't buy an auto if you are towing.
     
  9. cbus

    cbus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    13,570
    Location:
    sunshine coast
    They are fine for daily drivers.
    That's what they were built for.
    All you have to do is reverse previous owners neglect.

    12.5l100 under most confitions except towing and city traffic, petrol manual 2 litre air cooled.

    Buy a good one , less work, won't be sitting waiting to be registered, will give a good return upon resale.

    Agree with all above posts which cover most by people who know.

    Towing the bikes is the only concern and unknown for me.
    An aero cover would help.
    A Subaru conversion is around 7k in Melbourne and would cope with all requirements plus could run AC and give better fuel consumption when towing?
     
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  10. Dapom

    Dapom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    805
    Location:
    Brisbane
    this is the key for sure!
     
  11. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Active Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    NSW
    Ok everyone, thank you for the great info.

    I went to have a look at one this afternoon that wasnt too far from me and wow...what a charming bus. This one was a 1985 Caravelle and had 7 seats in it which is perfect for what I want to have the flexibility to use as a camper or a transporter. Also had a sunroof which I cant tell if its original or aftermarket but it appeared to work fine with the crank but tbh it scared me off a little as I wonder what would happen in the event it broke/leaked and I needed parts. The seller had the bus repainted from the waistline down and the job looked like it was very well done. It still had little spots of rust growing in the b pillars and under the gutter but nothing worse than the rust that is in my 77 Volvo.

    The engine looked like it was all there and started up from stone cold without much fuss. It struggled a tiny bit on warmup but after a minute or two the idle smoothed right out. The bottom of the engine was oily and there was a small drip of trans fluid formed on the bottom of the trans. Sadly I didnt get to take it for a drive as someone had parked it in so I was offered a drive another time this week/next week.

    In all honesty I was taken back by how much I liked it. To me the only sticking point is the drivetrain. I dont know if I could live with that lowly 1.9 auto combination and have ruled out towing anything with it. I think towing with it will be asking too much from it and I would be more than happy to just drive it as a van/camper. I dont want to Subaru swap it and really just want something to jump in and drive. I loved the interior size and driving position even if I didnt get to drive it.

    The seller was very knowledgeable and explained the reason for sale and what he had done to the van during his ownership. I'm going to take him up on his offer to come back later for a drive and see how I think about the 1.9 auto combination. Everything else about it ticked the boxes with the one big question mark being the powertrain which I know I'm going to find underwhelming but I think if I reserve its use for daily commuting and camping that I can accept it for what it is.

    Do we think I'm on the right path with my train of thought?

    Thanks again for the help, you guys and girls seem to be a great bunch :D
     
  12. bruce hh

    bruce hh Member

    Messages:
    76
    Location:
    Toogoom
    My experience is short-term compared with most comments here, and not a lot of help when it comes to fuel consumption as mine’s an import with the carby, lower horsepower 1.9 DG motor and 4 speed, but I can comment on towing.
    I have a European 1500 kgs rated tow bar (some local ones are lower rated), and having been using the T3 to gradually move house (new location is about 300 k’s away). Trailer is lightweight, loaded with the car was about 1300 kgs. Done the trip with car; with rear cut and sofa; with various fencing and double-bed; and with two-man canoe. Only issue has been that with cross-winds steering has at times been interesting. Depending upon your combined trailer and bikes weight, towing may not be an issue.

    13D6947C-9588-41A1-942E-65F8CE42BDFD.jpeg

    89AC6089-01AF-4B72-9923-52B0F6D3294D.jpeg

    ps Thanks for the wave, south of Gympie, the other week cbus
     
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  13. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Active Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    NSW
    Bruce that van looks great! How did it go with that load? Was the trailer weight 1300kgs?
    My motorbikes and trailer wouldnt be that heavy, id say closer to 600 - 700kg fully laiden with bikes + trailer tare weight + fuel and gear. I went to look at one yesterday with the Digijet? 1.9. I asked the seller about towing and he said he wouldnt trust the towbar and showed me the towbar which had removed and it looked like an old metal fence post with some thin steel bars welded on! Needless to say I dont think I could trust it for anything other than rear crash protection hahaha.
     
  14. Kombi Dad

    Kombi Dad Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,457
    Location:
    Bungendore, NSW
    I drove an '82 Camper as a daily driver for about ten years and then an '89 Syncro for another 6 years until I finally retired. They were great. As far as towing, I hauled a tradies trailer loaded with camping gear behind both whilst we camped/travelled and neither vehicle minded though the '82 was a bit slower on hills. I agree with the other comments regarding fuel economy and how well it had been maintained. I put about 200,000 km towing the trailer on the '82 before I changed to the Syncro. This included an around Australia trip.
     
  15. 85 Caravelle

    85 Caravelle Member

    Messages:
    139
    Location:
    Rozelle,Sydney
    My T3 is my daily drive ,as said before the key is regular servicing and preventative maintenance.
     
    Syncro27 likes this.
  16. T1 Terry

    T1 Terry Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,771
    Location:
    Mannum South Australia
    My poor old '74 has/had been a daily driver for .... I think 21 yrs now, my how time flies. We have done crazy miles in it, possibly 4 times around the clock now, but it has had it's fair share of engine minor rebuilds like heads and piston/barrel kits and a second hand bottom end once after lack of oil caused it to lock up solid :oops:
    It still tows a trailer dragging around 1 tonne up the Adelaide Hills every so often, it was had well over the rated ton packed in it a few times with bricks and 32 x 120Ah AGM deep cycle batteries on one occasion after getting a good freeby score :lol: Did a lot of trips loaded up when we moved from Lake Illawarra NSW to Mannum South Aust and never refused duty.
    I'd imagine a T3 to be even more reliable, a water cooled model even more so than the air cooled for towing but being sensible with the air cooled by not over stressing it at low revs or trying to see if you can get the last 20rpm out of it in second gear up the hill and the air cooled can be ultra reliable as well.
    My Kombi would be on the road as a daily driver now if it wasn't for the body rust begging for a restoration so I can convert it to all electric ....

    T1 Terry
     
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  17. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Active Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    NSW
    Thanks guys for the encouraging replies! Today I took it for a drive and yeah well it was ahem...very slow. Was about 22r Hilux or 300D Merc slow albeit very smooth and quiet. I dont think it was running right as it had a definite flat spot at 3/4 full throttle and had a miss on idle. I've started a new thread regarding the rust that I found in it that I am concerned with so as not to clutter this one and to keep it relevant.

    The rust really is a bummer as I think I could live with it as a daily/camper as while it was very slow it was nice and quiet and smooth. I dont think its body shape lends well to going fast anyway as I got it on the freeway and found that 90 was the sweet spot in the windy rainy weather here today. It just didnt feel that stable going 100 and while it did it, it felt like it was going to tip over!
     
    Syncro27 likes this.
  18. Grantus

    Grantus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    18,842
    Location:
    Southern ACT
    Really?

    All Kombi’s have the aerodynamics................... of a house brick! :D
     
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  19. Slowbrick

    Slowbrick Active Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    NSW
    Hahaha but they are even more housebrick than my Volvo which is housebrick with aero in comparison. In all honesty though the entire feel just lent itself to nice cruising and looking out the fishbowl glass. Was nice once it got up to speed.
     
    Luckyphil likes this.
  20. Luckyphil

    Luckyphil Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,077
    Location:
    Gosford
    I used to have a 144GL great car back in the day :)
     

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