Continuing on the Volkswagen theme, and with the Roman Catholic-based holiday also in mind (our Orthodox friends celebrate next week!), let’s take a look at Volkswagen’s first foray into water-cooled products. The Golf was, of course, not marketed as the Golf in the United States, but the Rabbit. Ostensibly, the ‘Golf’ name followed in the convention of VW’s other wind-based products (Scirocco, Passat and Jetta) since Golf is German word for “Gulf” – it has nothing at all to do with the game, though a set of clubs would fit nicely in the back. But Volkswagen still won’t tell anyone why they changed the name to Rabbit in the United States. More concerning, they changed the name to ‘Caribe’ in Mexico. That’s a Piranha. At least our market had a more friendly mascot?
While the Beetle was certainly a tough act to
follow be sold alongside of, the modern, convenient and completely practical Rabbit sold in droves at a time when fuel-conscious Americans were looking for solutions to their 19 foot long Lincoln Mk. V’s inability to clear 6 mpg. It’s 7.5 liter V8 with a 4-barrel carburetor managed to squeeze a massive 208 horsepower out of all that capacity. And that was the optional upgrade engine. Standard was a 6.6 liter version of the Cleveland V8 rated at only 166 horsepower, yet not really getting any better fuel economy. Of course, the Mk.V needed these giant motors as it was itself a giant. Curb weight was close to 5,000 lbs. So while the Rabbit seemed fairly insignificant in its stature by comparison, the reality was that it was a much better choice for most motorists.
To capitalize on the popularity, Volkswagen moved production of Rabbits from Germany to the United States for 1978. The move was signified by a shift towards rectangular square-beam headlights, just as we saw with yesterday’s early A2 Golf.…
I’m going to say something that’s probably somewhat shocking to many Audi faithful; the original Audi 100 was actually a sales success. Audi produced nearly a million of its new-style sedan, taking the company of a trajectory of innovative and aerodynamic family cars throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Of course, you’ll say, even if the C1 was a success in Europe, it wasn’t so much here in the U.S., right? After all, you see very close to zero of these handsome 1970s designs kicking around today. That would be a misstatement of the truth, since Audi original sold an astonishing 146,583 Audi 100s here. But since Toyota sells that many Camrys every hour, let’s put that into perspective. Some really rare Audis in the U.S.? How about a few of my favorites – 22,356 Coupe GTs sold here in total, and only 3868 V8 quattros made it to the States. Okay, neither the Coupe GT nor the V8 quattro was a particularly popular model for various reasons. How about a wildly popular model, then? Audi’s sales success with the 100 was on par with the company’s more recent star model, the A4 – Audi shifted 98,393 95-99 A4 models, and those are pretty common to see even if the newest of the B5 generation is 14 years old. A bigger perspective? Audi sold more 100LSs than it sold total cars (135598 total) between 1988-1995. I remember the 1980s, and even then – when these cars were newer than the current B5 generation – you just didn’t see them. That makes it especially neat to see one today, especially in the condition of today’s example:
A Rabbit Diesel is about the lowest rung of autos we write up here, and that’s exactly why I like to draw attention to them. As everyone rushes out to buy their kids and significant others various hybrid commuters and electric Fiat toys, I wish they’d broaden what they consider efficient cars. Having seen roadtrips well above 50 mpg in a Mk4 Jetta diesel, a Mk1 seems like a great, inexpensive way to get around town efficiently. They remind me of simpler times, and I wish more people felt the same way. This little survivor spent much of its life being towed behind an RV and has driven under its own power for just 100k miles. The 200k miles on some of the running gear is negligible in the face of the utility the little diesel could provide for hundreds of thousands of miles to come. All this for a few grand? Now THAT’S efficient.
The third generation Audi 100 (5000 to the U.S.) was so revolutionary as a mid-sized sedan, it’s easy to forget that there were two generations of Audi 100s that preceded it. Long before the legendary Quattro debuted, Audi was actually selling a reasonable amount of 100LSs and Foxes here in the 1970s. Not the sportiest or most luxurious of the mid range sedans, the 100 wasn’t the best competition for BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but in its day it was a respectable car. Unfortunately, its day didn’t last very long; plagued with reliability, rust and electrical issues, many of these 100s left a sour taste in U.S. buyers mouths. Now 40 years later, finding a clean 100 is a tough job, but once in a while one pops up for sale, such as today’s black 1972 100LS::
Engine: 1.9 liter inline-4
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Mileage: 66,000 mi
Price: $11,111.11 Buy It Now
I purchased this several years ago from the original “old lady” owner / driver in Maryland. It was all black with original paint. It was just professionally repainted with a cream colored roof.
Has the original tan vinyl interior, with a little over 60,000 miles on the odometer. In very good condition, drives well. Minimal rust. Never been in an accident. I still drive occasionally, it gets 27mpg. Front brakes have been totally redone, booster bypassed for now. Excellent tires and new front shocks (Boge). The AC/air conditioner has been converted to a newer, more efficient type of compressor, replacing the old York, which vibrated too much and was quite a drag. The pulleys have all been machined to use current 38 degree V belts which was a real boner problem, because Audi spec’ed the original belt at something like 60 degrees and then stopped selling them!
About 2 years ago we featured a very clean, very low Mk1 Rabbit Diesel. That car stuck with me because of the simplicity of the modifications, cleaning up a classic design and making a great little cruiser with no performance pretensions other than great gas mileage. Today’s is a little lighter in shade of tan and styled slightly differently, but the main themes are there: clean, low, and diesel. Having covered just 114k miles in its 32 years, this car is an amazing survivor, especially when you look inside at the classic red interior. The headliner has been replaced, but holy cow those seats and carpet! The car comes with all the original parts to return it completely stock, which is great to have in the garage, but as it sits it would be an excellent around-town cruiser.
Model: Rabbit LS Diesel
Engine: 1.6l inline-4 diesel
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 114,000 mi
Price: $5,950 Buy-It-Now
Up Forsale is my baby, 81 Rabbit MK1 with 114,xxx original miles. I really don’t want to sell this car, but due to my financial state, I must. The interior is immaculate for its age, nearly perfect (pictures speak for themselves). It has a 4-speed manual transmission, 1.6L diesel engine which gets about 45 MPG.
Here is the story:
I bought the car from a tow yard. I believe this grandpa-owned vehicle was never owned up to, so they sold the car to me. Once I bought it, I opened up the trunk and saw a box filled with Maintenance stuff. This grandpa really took care of his car. I believe I am the second owner and this car starts like a champ, runs like a champ.
Vintage Audis always seem to be more uncommon than their Bavaraian and Stuttgart counterparts, so when this restored Audi LS appeared on eBay, it caught my eye. Introduced in 1968, this was Audi’s largest car since revival of the brand in 1965. Developed in secret against VW management’s wishes, the 100 was a commercial success, so much so that production shifts were added at the Wolfsburg factory, thus making the 100 the first water cooled vehicle produced in the factory.
Here we have a stunning example of the car that put Audi back on the map, replete with the 1.8 liter engine:
The seller states:
I am selling a beautiful 1973 Audi 100 LS, the car was completely restored a few years ago, including a brand new paint job, not the cheap kind, but all trim, glass, door panels, lights were removed, car was repainted in the original arctic blue. There is no Bondo on the car, new windshield and rear glass rubber trim (that is expensive from Germany).
The pictures show the condition of the car, the engine starts right up, new brakes all around, new shocks, new plugs, wires, rotor, points and most importantly no rust. I installed custom made by “Lokari” in Germany front inner fender guards to prevent dirt and moisture from accumulating on top of the headlight bezels (that is a bad rust spot on most of these cars).
The seats, carpets, door panels, headliner are all in great shape, the blue mats are just there to protect the original. The car has an alpine radio with CD player. Front and rear retractable seat belts, passenger side mirror also installed on the car, rear defroster. The bumpers are perfect, all chrome also. Everything works as it should, no issues, I drove the car 2800 miles in 3 days, it was a blast.