The advertising tag line for the 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup was “So American, it’s not available in Germany”. Since the mid 1980s, though, the opposite has been true as the truck range of Volkswagen was removed from the U.S. lineup. In some ways, that’s a bit strange since the small truck market was so strong in the mid-to-late 1980s, but starting in the 90s and culminating in the early 2000s, the small truck market evaporated as the crossover to large trucks became so easy and prevalent. But big trucks have gotten very expensive, and smaller trucks (which really are the size of 1980s full sized trucks) are experiencing a minor resurgence – so much so that VW is rumored to be thinking of bringing the Amarok starting as early as next year. So, let’s take a look back at where the VW pickup began:
Longtime reader Sam was selling his “Blue Colonel” Rabbit Pickup in Portland but saw another extremely clean Caddy for sale at the same time. It looks like the Blue Colonel has sold, but this beautiful little LX – leatherette and wood dash included – is still looking for a new home. It’s covered 134k gentle miles and spent most of last 15 years in a temperature controlled garage. Everything looks original in the best of ways, including the clean engine compartment. $6k is a pretty common number for diesel Caddys, but we’ll see if this excellent gas pickup can swing that much too.
Click for details: 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup on Craigslist Portland
Last summer I saw this insane VW Rabbit Pickup concoction rocking an extended cab, air bags, and monochrome dark green interior to match the exterior. It still has the 1.5-liter diesel lump to pull all that extra weight, but that’s not the only explanation for it still sitting outside the same garage it was almost a year ago. At first, the seller had it for sale for $11k, but it didn’t sell. Then he made it a reserve auction with the Buy It Now at $11k and it got up to $4,600 but didn’t crack the reserve. He tried again, and it only reached $4,500. Third times a charm with the same auction, right? Nope, then he only got to $4,300. It’s almost as if the eBay bidders were taunting him. Well, he’s trying a different tack now: Start the bidding at $6,500 and lower the Buy It Now to $8,500. I feel a little bad for the guy; as stated in my original post, this truck has clearly taken a ton of time, money, and work. Unfortunately, the market for custom extended, ground-rubbing diesel Rabbit Pickups seems to be very small and capped around $5k. I wish him the best, but wouldn’t bet on it selling yet.
The below post originally appeared on our site August 9, 2015:
Click for details: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup
After Friday’s wallet-busting Rabbit Pickup, we have a sweet little diesel model that doesn’t have quite the top-to-bottom shine as the low beige caddy but is looking to pack quite the value. Pretty much everything under the hood has been redone with top-notch parts from OEM supplier The Parts Place, so you can bet this little pickup is going to run for many decades to come. The value comes in because there’s still work to be done on the interior and running gear, but those are things you can do over time, improve, and customize in much simpler ways than the motor. The reserve is still on the auction and bidding is hot, but it’s looking like this is going to be a right-priced economy truck with tons of potential.
Click for details: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup on eBay
When I saw the first picture and almost $16k asking price for this beige Rabbit Pickup auction, I thought it was yet another grossly optimistic seller shooting the moon for a wealthy ’80s VW fan that doesn’t exist. It just looked like another slammed Caddy on black wheels, and the weird and vaguely inappropriate intro in the description doesn’t really help. A closer look at the extensive work and the quality inside and out – if you can sort through the horribly formatted ad – starts to paint a very different picture. A rebuilt stock 1.8 and 5-speed are from 1986 Golf (my Rabbit Pickup had the same swap), and the whole undercarriage looks better than new. Recaro Trophys from a MkII and door cards and carpet from a MkI Jetta highlight the very clean interior. Refurbished black Snowflakes and a duckbill spoiler bring some OEM+ to the party, and LED head and tail lights are surprisingly attractive and unobtrusive.
From 20 feet away it looks like a budget slammer, but up close it looks like the “showstopper jaw dropper” that the seller describes. If it was white or black on silver rims, it might look like the classic clean German style. Maybe that’s the point, a play on the Caddy slammer scene while actually keeping most of it restrained and well-chosen. I’m still not sure if that makes it worth $16k.