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1983 Volkswagen Rabbit L Diesel

Survivors are a mixed bag; for whatever reason, it seems that most often it’s not the most desirable cars that pop up as survivors but the more odd, off color base models that appear. A few weeks ago I looked at a 1989 Volkswagen Golf GL; clean, original, and rare to see these days, it’s unfortunately not the car most are looking for. Back up a generation to the Rabbits, though, and more people seem interested in them. Perhaps it’s because few remain in clean, original shape – or perhaps it’s because they have more character than the second generation Golf. Either way, there’s no denying the charm of seeing a now 32 year old Rabbit looking like it just rolled out of a dealer service area in 1987:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit L on eBay

Year: 1983
Model: Rabbit L Diesel
Engine: 1.6 liter inline-4
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 109,968 mi
Price: Reserve Auction

i bought this beautiful car from a92 year old who could no longer drive it in california in december 2014 drove 866 miles home getting 45 mpg with no problems. i have 1980 rabbit i was going to replace because my dogs ate the interior but i cannot trust them not to have there way with this wonderful it was either dogs or rabbit dogs won .if you want a really nice never smoked in clean solid well cared for rabbit diesel you would be foolish not to buy this one .

There’s a bit of an odd story about this car and why the seller is moving on, but the condition of the Rabbit seems truthful. These diesel models may just be one of the slowest cars ever produced – but they’re known to run seemingly endlessly and cost little to keep going. While this car isn’t the most desirable color either inside or outside, the condition is impressive enough to outweigh the boring hues. I believe the color is Mexico Beige but a Mk.1 expert could probably correct me. What’s the car worth? To Mk.1 fans, probably more than you’d expect from a 30 year old budget economy car. We’ve seen a few Diesel Ls hammer for surprising amounts, such as the $5,600 one last April with similar miles and condition. Even with double the miles, another good condition 1982 L sold for over $4,000. Bidding has already passed $3,400, but the reserve is still on; it’s hard to speculate where this car should end up but I’d guess the reserve is set around $4,500 and this car could potentially hit over that amount if the right bidders are in the room.



  1. Kenn
    Kenn January 7, 2015

    My father owned one very similar in silver. Though its some of my earlier car memories I can attest to how slow it really was. I was too young to recall the overall reliability but I know for a fact it would still be driving today if not for the body giving out on it (MN isn’t easy on vehicles). This is making me nostalgic for that old diesel soundtrack, though at -4 below for a high today, I bet I would have to wait a while to hear it even if it was still around!

  2. Greggiekay
    Greggiekay January 7, 2015

    I had the same car but in blue, I swapped in a 5 speed, but to say it is slow, ‘specially by todays standards is an understatement, glacial might be a good description for the rate of acceleration. Having said that my commute just became 58 miles each way, if I had any money I’d surely consider one of these to daily.

  3. Petra
    Petra January 7, 2015

    I bought a similar car about ten years ago: low miles, original, early eighties diesel Rabbit.
    I put more than a hundred thousand miles on it with few issues (head gaskets, cv boots, engine mounts, alternator) and a lot of use. It got excellent mileage and if it wasn’t full of passengers was far faster than the commentary here suggests. Cheap parts, simple system, good enough.
    If your car is transportation and your willing to check oil regularly, I recommend an old diesel Rabbit. This is not a car for a “driving experience” nor a hands-off driver.
    Long live simple, efficient cars.
    (After driving a car like this for a long time, sitting behind the wheel of a high performance or even a rental car feels ridiculous: excessive horse power, blinding dashes of dozens of lights and buttons, overly complicated systems, etc.)

  4. Kenn
    Kenn January 7, 2015

    @Petra – I guess I didn’t factor in that my father has whatever the opposite of a lead foot is…..that could be part of my memory of this vehicle being a bit slower.

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