Struck with the T3 Syncro Virus

Good day to all,

I have been asking questions of Phil Landers over at the VW and Audi Watercooled forum and he pointed me to the this list dedicated to Syncro T3's. I joined the group last evening and have read most every post with great interest. So I have as briefly as possible put together a summary of the questions and comments from the other forum so that everyone here could chime in and tell me whether I am headed down the right track or not.

Here is link to the thread on the other forum for every one that wants to get all the background -

http://www.vwwatercooled.org.au/vwforum/viewtopic.php?t=859

Here is a quote from my last post on the other forum which should bring everyone up to speed -

I have been at a loss for almost 12 months about finding a reliable, fun transport for our family. We have been running a EA Falcon wagon which is on its last legs, and need to find new wheels for us all.

I looked at most options including Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes vans and just did not like what I saw for the price. And the Pajero, Landcruiser, Patrol just do not cut for the space we need with 4 children. My preferred transport, GMH Suburban(owned 2 when we lived in the US) is just out of reach at $50,000+ for a 8 year old truck. So I sort of settled on the VW Transporter T3 or T4. Plus I have only had great experiences with VW products.

Thanks so much for all the links and info you have pointed me to. My biggest issue with the T3 is that I know they are under-powered and when you add A/C and a trailer, you could probably run faster in some cases. But in my surfing I have come across the Subaru transplant lists, and that changes everything. And then there is the TDI conversions by Jaeger, which opens a whole new world of performance for the T3.

The plan of action at this point is to buy a Syncro with the best body possible and in good running condition which can be set-up to seat 6 people comfortably. I want to be able to run at least 12 months before I need to do anything major and at that point either do a 2.5L or 3.3L Boxxer or a Jaeger style TDI conversion.

I usually buy vehicles on a 10 to 15 year plan, and so I would be looking to keep this T3 for a very long-time. So several questions come to mind.

The T3 comes in several variants, round headlights and flush, are the differences only cosmetic, or are there subtle differences in the floor pan and etc which I need to be aware of?

Also whether to buy a T3 with a pop-top or not? Eventually, I would want to convert it into a camper. So is this important or a none issue if I want to have a pop-top installed down the road?
 
Thanks,

P. Lynn Miller
Sydney, Australia
www.chainringtransitauthority.com