1983 VW Rabbit with 2.5L swap

In 2007 VWoA decided to abandon the Golf brand name and bring back the Rabbit after a 23 year hiatus. VW enthusiasts were excited because of the marketing surrounding the launch and the “retro” name. The MK5 Rabbit served as the introduction of VWs new 150bhp 2.5L inline 5 cylinder engine, which for anyone that had driven it is very reminiscent of the VR6 engines from previous generations. While the MK5 Rabbit was a great step forward from the MK4 generation Golf, true MK1 Rabbit enthusiasts saw it as just another generation of the Golf.

One MK1 enthusiast and shop owner looked past all of that, and saw an opportunity to build something truly unique. Josh Paashaus from Nothing Leaves Stock in Coopersburg, PA is always pushing the limits of MK1 modification, and this car is certainly no exception. Starting with a clean original 1983 Rabbit, Josh then transplanted the 2.5L from the MK5 generation Rabbit putting his imagination and fabrication skills to the test, and the results are stunning.

1983 VW Rabbit with 2.5L swap on vwvortex.com

-world only 2.5L mk1 swap with oem mk5 harness and ecu. looks and runs like a mk5 rabbit! -2007 2.5L motor with 48K one it, ecu, harness with a c2 motorsports tune, ecs crank pulley, full custom 2.5” SS vband exhaust. aluminum rad and custom fans. -no ac, no ps, -car is a 1983 rabbit with 39K original miles- no rust, perfect floors etc -round headlight conversion, full respray in oem silver, smoothed and two toned euro bumpers by jay lehrmann. body is a 9/10 -wietec adjustable deampening coilovers -brand new 14” P-slots with new tires -100% oem original clean interior other then the rocco cluster for the higher speedo and tach and the headliner is new fabric -car was in PVW, won shows and could be daily driven, its super fun, quick, reliable!

This car is a great example of ingenuity. To look at this car you would swear that VW offered the 2.5l engine in 1983, which is a testament to the fabrication, and VW know how needed to make a swap like this look OEM.

With any modified car like this I start with the question, can you build it for this price? As someone that has undergone smaller scale engine swaps, I can confidently say no. With a $10,500 price tag on this car is certainly priced to sell, it will however need the right buyer to appreciate the work, thought and ingenuity that has gone in to a car like this. This goes on my list of “damn I wish I had the money” cars.



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  1. Cool, but why not a 2.0T?

  2. the swap looks very clean but all that pink shit has to go

  3. Not picking on you, Brian, but that “you couldn’t build it for that price” comment comes up a lot. It might be true, but it’s only relevant to that one person who was planning on doing a very similar build themselves, and now might not need to, because they can buy this completed one cheaper.

    To everyone else, the more relevant questions are: “Does this build appeal to me?” and if so, “Do I think it’s worth somewhere near the asking price?” Sellers try to influence potential buyers with how much money they “invested” in the car. Great, but what is really important to potential buyers is the quality, extent and materials used, when the build, restoration or repairs, were performed.

  4. Oh, and about the car…the 2.5L is a cool idea in a Mk1 Rabbit, and it looks like a really clean build. The pink accents everywhere aren’t going to help this appeal to what I suspect is a predominantly male buyer pool. No A/C or P/S is a going to limit that buyer pool even more. Interior color isn’t exciting, but even a better set of seats would go a long way towards improving the look and feel in there. Personally, I don’t see this making sense at $10,500. Then again, it only has to make sense to one person out there.

  5. Would have never thought to put a 2.5 in a Mk1. Vive la différence…..or since this is a German site, Es lebe der Unterschied would be more appropriate.

  6. seats are original, untouched and not swapped. the car was built to look oem+ not a crazy show car.
    shop would charge $12,000 to do this swap with parts and labor, then you need a clean car(this one has 39K og miles)
    pink can be removed in 5 minutes.

  7. I don’t know if I like this or not? CERTAINLY better than any of those Hondas that people typically do swaps like this in though.

    I’m not a huge VW fan so I wouldn’t pay 10k for this. Maybe $7 or $8k?

  8. I like this a lot. Unfortunately I don’t have 10k or live in a climate where I can get away with a no a/c vehicle.

  9. meik, you again….

    oem clean rabbits go for 7-8K….this is far from that.the motor swap alone cost 10-12K to get completed….

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