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Feature Listing: 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit L

I’ve spent a fair amount of time documenting the importance of Porsche’s 924 model on these pages, but the first generation Volkswagen Golf was equally if not more important. Like the 924, it signaled the shift for the Wolfsburg firm from its tried and true air cooled roots into the modern age of water cooled, front-engine designs. Taking the design pioneered by the Mini, Volkswagen adopted a transverse engine layout driving the front wheels. To package their new platform, Volkswagen turned to Giuigaro, an ex-Ghia employee who had helped design the swoopy and popular Karmann Ghia. But the shift from air to water cooling needed a new direction, and capitalizing on the wedge designs he had pioneer in cars like the Maserati Merak and Lotus Esprit, Giugiaro made an angular but pretty design with a signature large greenhouse. While not a revolutionary design in either engine, platform or interior/exterior look, the first generation Golf hit the market at just the right time – in the midst of the OPEC-driven oil embargo. The effects were long reaching in the U.S. even though the embargo was lifted in 1974; we adopted a national speed limit, daylight saving time was invented to reduce electric consumption and small, efficient cars like the Golf became popular. Like the 924, in addition to being a sales success in its own right, the Volkswagen Golf was the platform which launched several successful other models. The Scirocco, Jetta, Cabriolet and third generation Passat all came from the original design, along with pretty much every single car VAG makes today. But unlike the 924, appreciation for the original design has been very widespread and the first Golf was even nominated for (and came close to winning) Car of the Century. As cars have become increasingly complex, fast, heavy and expensive, the this 1978 Rabbit brings us back that more simple time:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit L on eBay

Year: 1978
Model: Rabbit L
Engine: 1.5 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: ~108,000 mi(500 miles on replacement odometer, original documented)
Price: $5,500

Selling my 1978 Bahama Blue Rabbit.

I bought this car a couple years ago and put it together with the intent of keeping it a long time.

I had been looking for a “keeper” Rabbit and really wanted Bahama Blue. It is a fantastic color and is very hard to find.

This car came available in Idaho and I bought it and had it shipped here.

It is original paint with great patina. No evidence of accidents or paint work anywhere I can find.
Lots of rock chips, peeling clear on the hood and roof with some surface rust on the roof.
Structurally totally solid. Shock towers, aprons, etc.
The rockers and pinch welds are straight, no deformed from putting the jack in the wrong place, I hate that.
There is a rust hole on the passenger rear wheel opening at the top. It rusted from the back out so something must have been trapped back there.
There is also a small rust hole in the driver side front floor. Toward the rear of the pan near the hump in the center of the car. Really weird place to rust. They usually rust where the floor pan meets the fire wall. This one is great up there. I had the carpet and jute out. Pulled the sound deadener to check everything. All is good except the one spot. I POR15’d anything that was bear metal. I keep the car inside and only drive it when it’s nice out so these issues weren’t a big deal to me. Just added to the character of the car.
I added the roof rack which is in nice shape. Still has the ZKW sticker on the back. It’s nicely faded and matches the car perfectly.

Blue vinyl interior is in really nice shape. Uncut door panels and parcel shelf, all trim in place, working AM radio, nice headliner, seats not ripped up, etc.
It does have an early Scirocco Tach cluster swapped in. Tach, gauges, everything else work fine.
Remote mirror on the driver side works well. Passenger mirror is not remote.
The passenger seat had a small tear in the bottom that was stitched up. Carpet is good but thread bear in the back.

The car was completely stock and original when I got it. Gas 1.5, 4 speed, steelies, suspension, brakes, etc.

I went through the car replaced a bunch of stuff with stock parts and upgraded a few things.

The trans started puking fluid right after it got here. I swapped in a good FF code 5 speed with new clutch, pressure plate and fly wheel.
Also rebuilt the shift linkage with a TT short shift kit, full rebuild kit and the KROM build metal shift selector ball.
The shift action is really good and precise. The FF has a overdrive 5th gear that is great for cruising.

Upgraded the front brakes to GTI spec. 9.4″ vented rotors, new calipers, pads, lines, etc. Rear are stock drums and were fine.
E brake works properly.

Suspension got all new rubber bushings including NOS OEM rear beam bushings. Early rebuildable strut bearings. New ball joints and tie rods. Added a K bar as well.
I added new KYB struts and shocks with Eurosport Springs. This is a nice combo. Lowered the car slightly and rides really well while still firming up the handling.
With the new bushings and other parts the car is really tight. No clunking or rattles. The only exception to that is the steering column. It will clunk over low speed bumps. Like pulling into the garage or into a parking lot. The column bushing will need to be replaced.
I added a set of 14×6 Remotec Cups. I love 14’s on Rabbits. Anything bigger feels heavy to me.
The wheels are in nice shape. The stock steelies with good tires are also included.

The engine got new fluids and a tune up. It starts and runs well. No rocket but it keeps up with traffic and cruises easily on the highway at 75.

Electrical system works fine. All the lights and gauges work. Dome light comes on when you open the door. Radio works and gets good AM reception.

The car is just how I wanted it. I finished it last summer and only drove it a couple times. I’ve had it out twice this summer.
I like having it but just don’t use it. The wife and I were discussing it a few weeks ago. She is a Rabbit fan as well and suggested selling this one and getting a Caddy.
We could use a truck. It would go to the recycling center every week in the summer, Home Depot Runs etc. It just makes sense to have a vehicle that serves a function.

So the Rabbit is for sale and I will be looking for a nice, gas Caddy.

I’m asking $5500 obo.
The car is located in Whitefish, MT.
It is parked safely in my heated shop.
I will work with the shipper of your choice or you can fly in and drive it home.

Walk around videos of the car.




Link to the album:…?sort=3&page=1

The 1.5 liter inline-4 in the first generation Golf/Rabbit produced a scant 71 horsepower, but with a curb weight only around 2,000 lbs the car wasn’t unreasonable to drive. There were three specifications available in 1978 for U.S. customers; the stock Rabbit, Rabbit C or upscale Rabbit L. The “L” had luxuries like a cigarette lighter, adjustable headrests and swiveling sun visors – luxury, indeed! Bahama Blue was a new color for 1978 and looks great here overall, as the pre-79 Rabbits retained the round headlight and bumperette-free configuration that somehow looks more pure. While the condition of this car admittedly isn’t perfect, the seller has an extensive photo gallery to document the condition of the car and importantly the substantial yet subtle upgrades the car has undergone to make it a better driver. The car also comes from a longtime reader and enthusiast who has a lot of A1 experience. Despite their legendary status and cults that love them, these remain solidly affordable classic cars that can be driven regularly and maintained on a shoestring budget. This one has nearly all the heavy lifting done and is effectively a blank slate to either restore to the next level, modify to personal taste or keep as-is, a patina’d commuter warrior from a different time and age.


One Comment

  1. Poorhouse
    Poorhouse August 5, 2016

    Thanks GCFSB for the exposure – The car is sold.

Comments are closed.