Cousin to the beloved Vanagon and its Westfalia camping version, the Volkswagen Transporter (as the rest of the world knows the vehicle) came in several pickup flavors elsewhere—single cab, double cab, and so forth. The hottest flavor of Transporter, in our opinion, is the Doka Syncro, and that’s what you’re seeing here.
“Doka” is short for DoppelKabine—double cab—and Syncro is VW-speak for vehicles equipped with an all-wheel-drive system, at least until they adopted the “4Motion” nomenclature. Combine the two, and you get a six-passenger pickup powered by a 1.9-liter TDI turbodiesel engine, with a useful drop-side bed and a full-time all-wheel-drive system designed by Daimler-Steyr-Puch. No wonder North American enthusiasts lust after this Swiss army knife of van-based pickups.
Equipped with a canvas cargo cover like the one seen in the images here, and the Doka seems ready for adventure. It’s a go-anywhere, carry-anything kind of machine. Those characteristics were appreciated by various government agencies and militaries abroad, so—like this example here—many were used hard and put away slightly rusty. The seller claims this was a German border patrol vehicle, and given the color and options that seems likely. This Doka—which didn’t meet reserve in a Bring a Trailer auction at $13,750 in May—is located in British Columbia, and since all Dokas in the U.S. (or headed to the U.S.) will require some paperwork, it could be a headache to acquire one.
Maybe the headache is worth it. It’s hard to imagine a vehicle that combines more practicality and charm in an usual and striking body style. The cab-forward design and drop-side bed are just plain cool, both features common on utility vehicles elsewhere but not generally found on U.S.-market trucks. And Syncro is a useful system that adds some traction in slippery conditions. Moreover, while the Doka was never sold here, plenty of Vanagons were, so parts aren’t impossible to come by domestically.
It’s possible that this Doka could hit Bring a Trailer again considering the no-sale, so if this one entices you, keep an eye out.