Ever wonder why the pop-top color on a Vanagon Westy looks so different than the body color? Even on white Westys, the top does not look exactly the same as the body. Here's the scoop:
The reason is that there is no paint on the tops; instead, there is a gel coat. On white Westys, the gel coat just gets chalky and appears "matte" compared to the glossier paint of the body. On other colored Westys, burgundy in particular, the gel coat fades to a completely different color. And the problem is not just cosmetic.
Besides looking kind of goofy, the change in color and chalky surface indicate that the gel coat is starting to break down. Once the outer layer of the gel coat is gone, the fiberglass underneath is exposed to the elements, and that's where the real troubles begin. The fiberglass absorbs moisture like a sponge and quickly molds, freezes, and literally falls apart.
You can extend the life of the gel coat by scrubbing it down and applying a protectant or clear coat, but neither will correct the mismatch in color.
What we do at GoWesty: We apply the same paint that goes on the body to the top and luggage rack. That completely and permanently seals the remaining gel coat and fiberglass underneath, and it makes for a perfect color match. This is what VW did on the later-model Eurovan Westfalia MV Weekenders and full campers to solve the issue—it was more costly, but definitely represented a more long-term solution.