Latest update December 28th, 2016 1:27 AM
Feb 08, 2016 Abel Longoria Camping, Vanagon 16
I spent this weekend camping with 12 other VW buses in Galveston Island State Park here on the Texas coast then I noticed a beast of a vehicle driving down the park road. Being the VW Vanagon Addict..err… Enthusiast that I am I knew exactly what it was and how rare they are to see here in the states. I hoped they weren’t just passing through and were staying the night so I had a chance to see their rig up close and personal. Fortunately they were camping! Yay.
The 1996 VW LT40 4×4 named Klausi is piloted by Robert, Katrin and their dog Quanna. Their home base is Germany which is where Klausi was purchased, modified and shipped to the U.S. from.
Talking to Robert about Klausi I was amazed to hear that this entire build took him 7 months from start to finish. 7 months! I would have assumed it would have taken much longer to get Klausi outfitted for a world tour.
This is Klausi when he was purchased. Nothing like his current state so this just reinforces my amazement at the amount of work they got done in such a short time. Klausi was named after the previous owner which was a nice man named Klaus. Pretty cool!
Image courtesy of Trailsurfers.net
The entire rig was stripped down and worked over. All of the doors, windows, interior, trim etc were removed for body work and repaint. It worth noting that Robert did most of the work on this rig himself which makes you really appreciate the effort put into the build even more. See more build photos of Klausi HERE.
Image courtesy of Trailsurfers.net
The inline 6 cylinder turbo diesel was removed and rebuilt fresh for the trip.
Image courtesy of Trailsurfers.net
The finished product is amazing. Simply jaw dropping.
They’ve been in the U.S. for about 2 1/2 weeks now after picking up Klausi from customs in Baltimore Maryland and setting their sights on the west coast. They plan to visit California then head south to Patagonia. How cool is that?
Shipping from Germany to Maryland took about 2 weeks and $2,000. Not bad at all when you really think about it. Having a camper sent over from Germany in order to travel is something a lot of people do. I recall seeing a 2014 VW T5 California (new Eurovan camper) on the road in Colorado and I nearly drove off a cliff trying to get a look at it as it drove by. lol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) allows foreign registered vehicles to be brought into the U.S. for personal use only, it can not be sold or registered to a US citizen and it can only stay on U.S. soil for 1 year.
This LT40 suspension has been modified with a 6″ lift which makes crawling under this bad boy for repairs and inspections by nosey neighboring Van Addicts a piece of cake… Ask me how I know. Hehe.
Wheels a are custom Mefro Steel wheel with an ET0 offset. Robert tells me these wheels are very hard to come by and not many are made. In fact he mentioned he regrets not ordering 6 of them instead of only 5 because they were so hard to get. Not just any wheel in this bolt pattern would suffice. It needed the load capacity rating as well since Klausi is a heavy boy. Mefros wrapped in Cooper Discoverer STT LT265/75R16 tires.
The cockpit. A Double DIN stereo and a Samsung Tablet for navigation.
The custom build interior was built by Robert and Katrin with the help of a friend who specializes in musician Flight/Equipment Cases. All of the plywood is a lightweight 7mm thick (a tad thicker than 1/4″ plywood) and helps save weight as opposed to using a 1/2″ or 5/8″ thick plywood.
The cabinet behind the driver’s seat that houses the Waeco Refrigerator is a Westfalia cabinet taken from a Westfalia LT and used here. Robert mentioned this was easier to use since the rear of the cabinet already matched all of the curves and profiles of the van wall.
The fold back bed panel helps to keep the living area nice and open for daily use.
Once lowered a queen size bed is revealed with more storage options along the wall.
A Russian made diesel heater hidden in a vented box helps keeping the van comfortable in cold weather. Robert mentioned this Russian made heater is a knock off of another European made diesel heater but it costs considerably less. Much more reasonable at about $600 (Info coming soon). Thermostat controller mounted on the wall.
The area under the bed makes for great storage. Look at all of this space for tools, clothes and other necessities.
There’s even a marine 12v retractable shower head mounted.
Rooftop storage holds down two spare tires, one mounted and one loose. Two 100 watt solar panels to keep the auxiliary batteries nice and charged. Oh and Quanna’s pet carrier.
Robert says the van is about 3.05 meters tall which is about 10ft but standing next to this thing I think it’s closer to 12ft. I attached my GoPro to the end of my flag pole and using my GoPro app on my phone I lined up for this image. Hehe. You can see the shadow in the image. I call it my “Poor Man’s Drone”. =)
1996 VW LT40 4×4 nose to nose with a 1964 VW Canterbury Pitt split window bus. 32 years difference. Wow.
Safe travels Robert, Katrin, Quanna and Klausi! It was a pleasure meeting you guys and if you thought we were inquisitive about Klausi here in Texas just wait, the further west you go you’ll get a ton more interest in Klausi.
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Great write-up Abel. Amazing vehicle, and looks like a great refurb for a demanding trip. One question: I’d always heard that using blocks for lifts was not the best idea, especially in heavy vehicles, as over time it can cause the springs to settle or slump down on either side of them, or the Ubolts could break with the unequal stresses of off-road travel. Obviously these guys have built an A+ rig, but curious about that choice.
Yea not sure… This thing does weigh a lot. Just not sure if the time constraints or finances allowed for another way to lift it.
The lift is a factory lift. Only approx 1250 of the 4×4 LT’s build. Standard fitting on these were 7.00×16 or 7.50×16 tyres. A further lift than is archieved by bigger tyres.
I managed another 3 inches of ground clearance on mine (on top of the standard LT 4×4 lift) by using 9.00×16 which is the biggest circumference, that will fit in the arches and will need slight modifications to the front arch.
The ET0 Mefro rims also give a slighlly wider track width, which gives additional stability.
We added a 4th layer on the rear axle to avoid any problems with the weight…Also a specialized “spring smith” reworked the complete set of spring and raised them about 3 inches
The block is original
Good Job Abel, we enjoy all you’ve done with the site.
Thanks Kate… I do appreciate it. See ya soon.
Are these guys in the states still? I have one in Oregon. I wonder how many 4×4 LT’s are in the states and Is there a LT owners group ?
If Robert wants a 2nd spare for his wheels, he can contact me. I filled the last group buy of these rims by buying half of the pallet 🙂 I don’t have a full set left, but I can spare a single, if needed.
Thanks Martin… I’ll let Robert know asap.
Thx for the offer that would be great!!!
Where are you located?
I’m in Ireland. So best, to sort out, once you’re back in Europe. I do venture regularly to continental Europe (DK/DE/NL), so getting it somewhere there won’t be an issue.
I am writing from Italy and I am really interested on keeping my VW LT to the USA. Since I am dual citizen, in case I settle in Pittsburgh, PA, soon, I wish to know if I can have problem to get my camper van with me in the US. Do you have any idea? I guess, after getting the residence there I should change the plate of the LT…
Can I contact Robert to ask him from which harbor in Germany he did ship the VW? The price to get the van in the US is affordable and I wish to continue to use my LT meanwhile I live in the United States… Thank you very much for helping me!
Yea you can contact him. I listed their Facebook page and their blog. There’s a contact link on their blog.. You can email Robert from there. I don’t have his direct contact info. Robert’s LT couldn’t be registered here since I believe vehicles need to be at least 25 years old before you can register it here I have a friend in Colorado that imported an LT from Germany but his is not as new as Robert’s so he can get it registered here. Look up The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and see what vehicle age requirements they have for registering a foreign vehicle in the US.
thank you so much for your quick answer…
In case I can get my camper van in the US I will meet you somewhere!
I am an Architect and Artist, born in Italy by American mother. My daughters did become US citizens in 2013 and now we are planning to come back to the US due to the bad economic crisis in Italy. I spend all summers in Pittsburgh, PA since 2012, and we love it.
I am a VW fan and I hope to come to the US with my lovely VW LT.
Amazing write up !
It would be interesting to swap into a Vanagon one of the new Cummins 4 cylinder diesel crate engines; in a configuration such as represented here in this rig. The dog house between the seats would be smaller. The space gained in the former engine compartment could be put to good use.