Phase 2: Peace Vans + AA Transaxle is complete!

I can finally say that Phase 2 of the build is complete. We were able to pick the van up from the Peace Vans team in Seattle, and begin the journey down to Burley Motorsports for Phase 3 of the build.

The team at Peace Vans ( with the help of Daryl from AA Transaxle ( had the ambitious task of converting and servicing the foundational systems in the van for the overland adventure.

One of the major projects was the grafting of a Westfalia top onto the van. For the uninitiated, the Westfalia version of the van, has a fiberglass top that pops up at an angle to create a tent and bed platform to sleep in. This is a big job to cut out the existing roof and then weld and install an entire roof system from an original Westfalia van. It’s very tedious and precision work, and this alone can take a shop weeks to complete. We decided to go with a black and body color clue them for the top’s paint. The black to try to lower the visual profile of the van and the body color to try to fight thermal loading. The luggage rack is all black and the pop top section is black on the sides and body color in the center. But all of the awesome the team did on wrapping the color up the sides of the top were a little lost under the huge solar panel!

The other major component of the build with the guy at Peace Vans was to install a working rear AC system into the van that would be compatible with the new pop top. This doesn’t sound too bad, but remember the engine is a Subaru and that means you have to integrate half of the system from a Subaru and the other half from a Volkswagen. No easy task, and this was further complicated because my engine didn’t have any of the subaru AC parts! No compressor, dryer, pulleys, brackets, etc… DOH

In addition to the pop top and AC, the team had to: install new clutch, flywheel, stainless steel coolant lines, pop-top struts, brakes (front and rear), fix the gas gauge, valve cover gasket, and remove & reinstall the entire rebuilt driveline from AA Transaxle including the vacuum system for the front and rear lockers with decoupler.

Daryl at AA transaxle did a full rebuild of the trans and front diff, upgrade the VC to an aggressive model, we also added a front locker and decoupler to the mix. Our trans and system were working fairly well, but we wanted to ensure stoutness in the field, and also prepare for a potential power upgrade. Daryl is awesome, and answered all of our random questions quickly and thoroughly. He is the man when it comes to syncro transmissions, and a really cool guy to boot. More on him later….

It was awesome getting back in the van and departing seattle. It’s been a few weeks since i have driven her, and it was sheer joy to be back behind the wheel. While we were with the guys at Peace Vans we started working on 2 videos to both show our gratitude and document the awesome work they have done for us. We will be posting the first video shortly.

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