Travel: A Vanagon Syncro, RWB Porsche, And The Great Coastal Surfing Road Trip

A Vanagon Syncro, RWB Porsche, And The Great Coastal Surfing Road Trip

By Petrolicious Productions
May 16, 2017

Story and photography courtesy of VAST Life

We love a good road trip story, whether that be crossing The Sudan in an Alfa Romeo Sprint GT, cruising through Scandinavia in an Opel Kadett, or putting 37,000 miles on Datsun 1600 traversing North America, the big excursions and vast logistical challenges are true tests of automotive passion and capability. So when we heard that a group of people had taken a half-month-long surfing trip by way of a drop-top wide body Porsche and a VW Vanagon Syncro, we felt compelled to share. This is the first piece of that journey.

Day 1

We would love to say that we were well prepared and that our trip kicked off perfectly, but the reality is far from it. Trying to finish up two cars (“Between Waves,” our 1990 surf-inspired 964 RWB Porsche, and a 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro); prep a third truck as the chase vehicle (a Ford F-150 Raptor); and arrange a 17-day road trip for nine people (seven leaving from L.A., and then picking up two more down the road) is not an easy task. At the very least it was an exercise in logistics. When we finally set off we’re about three hours behind schedule, and as soon as we breach the city limits of Los Angeles, our Syncro breaks down. 

Luckily, we find a VW specialist in Ventura who gets to work on our van at around 3PM that same day. Originally, we had planned for an afternoon of surfing in Morro Bay, but because we were stuck in Ventura, we sent our social media specialist ahead to get a flying start on some photos. Somehow things seem to work out; Between Waves and the Raptor make it to Morro Bay just as the sun is setting, giving us the perfect lighting for an evening photo session. The flip side of that meant we had to make camp in the dark though, which was interesting. Meanwhile, the Syncro was getting patched up and on her way, and the group reconvened in full at camp a little before midnight.

Day 2

Originally, we had planned on a casual morning with a relaxed breakfast before heading up towards Monterey. The idea was to get to Monterey on the early side, and possibly check out a bit of Big Sur, or cruise down 17-Mile Drive. Not getting a surf in the days before has us itching though, so instead, we get up at 5AM for a dawn patrol session after hitting the sack at 2AM the night before. There are a few spots we consider, but we end up paddling out at the most iconic break, The Rock. Conditions are clean and we’re stoked and amped (and a little cold!). 

We stay in the water and enjoy Morro Bay a bit longer than we planned; it’s pretty late by the time we get to Monterey. Since everyone is exhausted, we just set up camp and call it a day. We know we’ll need to stayed charged as this is only day two of a 17-day trek!

Day 3

Today we are off to Syncrofest!  We’ve been following this event for a couple of years, and always dreamed of participating. Syncrofest is held in Hollister, CA, a bit inland. But, since we’ll be landlocked for a couple of days, we can’t leave Monterey without a surf, so we head to the closest break, Sand Plant. The swell is small, a bit blown, slightly dumpy, but somehow it just looks like fun!

Again, we stay in the water too long. Then, we decide to put all the boards on the rack to make more room in the Syncro, so we get back to camp way late too—a trend is starting to form. 

We wanted to visit the Monterey Aquarium before leaving to check out some of their wildlife and habitat conservation exhibits—and see the jellyfish and otters! The Aquarium is as awesome as it’s built up to be, but our departure time for Syncrofest definitely gets pushed back as a result. Supposedly, we will have absolutely no cell phone reception at the festival, which is quite refreshing, but a bit nerve-wracking at the same time; almost nothing has gone according to plan, and it’s been a bit stressful putting out the fires, but it has all worked out. I guess that’s what road trip are all about: enjoying all the experiences—and fires.

Day 4: Syncrofest

We finally arrive at Syncrofest, very anxious to finally experience it in person. We don’t make it into Hollister until dusk though, so it was almost fully dark when we pulled in. Seth, the founder/organizer, greets us with a warm welcome, then gives us a ride around the site in his Doka, showing us where we could set up camp. I guess he was really enthusiastic, because he goes up a trail with a very steep incline, and says if the Porsche can make it up, there is a very cool site to camp in. We tell Seth we don’t think the Porsche can do it, and I expect him to turn around but instead he goes down another trail—an even steeper one! I expected his Doka to slip-and-slide down the steep grade, but she holds and stays in control. I now know why this Vanagon has such a cult following.

After we set up camp it is truly dark. Everyone is super friendly and drops by to see our cars and say hello. The owner of a very cool German Police-themed Vanagon even invites us to shoot a chase sequence with him. We checked out the GoWesty Camp, and saw row after row of purpose-built Vanagons. I think we’re becoming a little addicted to the van-lifer lifestyle!

Our map’s next pin was San Francisco, and after a great time with new friends at Syncrofest, we resumed our trek north.

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2 years ago

I find it very inspiring. Go on a road trip, taking a surfboard, and who does not have it, now you can buy it here . You can even arrange with friends, and take a nice company to make your vacation more fun. Or you can just put up a tent on the beach with your family and surf from morning to night

5 years ago

Pretty sure this Syncro used to belong to me. I know that van well.

Stephan P
Stephan P
5 years ago

Cool trip but,…..what makes a great road like the ones you linked are the unknowns. That’s part of the adventure, having the security blanket of a Raptor support vehicle kind of takes away from that.

Hopefully we will see more coverage of Syncrofest.