29 November 2011

Our Cars: Michael Dorman's VW Vanagon Westfalia

Dorman grew up around muscle, but he loves air-cooled VWs


As a kid, Mike Dorman fully experienced the power of GM muscle cars. His mother owned a Nova SS, Chevelle SS convertible and Bonneville convertible, and a cousin was a drag racer. But when Mike admits he’s “always had a thing for air-cooled VWs,” he isn’t kidding. He’s owned 11 of them. And his latest addition, a Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia, seems to be a perfect fit for the Dorman family.

In addition to working at Hagerty, Mike is an accomplished musician, enjoys camping and co-owns a clothing store with his wife, Wendy.

Title: Commercial Lines Specialist

Years at Hagerty: 3

Car: 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

Why a Vanagon Westfalia? This is my third one. My kids nicknamed her “Goldie.” VW Westfalias are the ultimate in utilitarian comfort, and they’re also quite desirable, so when I find one that I can fix up, it’s always rewarding. Also, since my family loves to camp and I’m a musician, we use it for road trips. I love VWs, and I can work on them without breaking the bank.

Repairs and modifications (planned or completed): After I bought it, I installed a new exhaust system, as well as worked on the valve-train some. Otherwise, it always needs to have the wiring looked after, as well as the fuel system … because it’s a VOLKSWAGEN. Next spring, I’ll work on the brakes, alignment and tires, and after that maybe look into the odometer cluster.

Favorite Drive: For a Westfalia Van, the Canyonlands in Colorado/Utah and U.S. 1 in California are my favorites. With all those windows, the visibility is excellent, and you can really enjoy the sights while you’re looking for a place to camp (or waiting for a tow-truck). Locally, you can’t beat Leelanau County in northern Michigan for its great vistas and beach access!

Best and Worst Moments: The best moment was taking it to my first music festival. I had my “house” on my back, didn’t have to set up a tent, and all the other musicians hung around it to play music, so I was able to jam with lots of great folks. It always seems to draw a crowd. The worst moment is whenever I have to put it into storage. Not only is space at a premium (it won’t fit in my garage), but I hate to be away from it for the entire winter.

4 Reader Comments

  • 1
    bill los angeles, ca May 17, 2016 at 05:48
    does this mean hagerty will insure a westfalia and allow camping?
  • 2
    Joe Los Alamitos, Ca. June 26, 2016 at 09:44
    Will Hagerty's or any other company insure Westy for full value.
  • 3
    Matt Jackson, WY October 19, 2016 at 18:20
    I was just denied for insurance on my 87 syncro westy as I use it for camping
  • 4
    Carrie Frank Jacksonville, FL January 12, 2017 at 16:57
    I was also just denied insurance on our '84 Westy for camping as well. What gives? Since it sounds like Michael Dorman camps in his Westy, who did he get to insure it for him?

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