Survivor Status: 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit L

To round out my trifecta of A1s over the past two days, I thought we’d look at one that ironically brought the biggest smile to my face. It’s not because it’s the high performance model, nor is it because it’s in the best condition. What appeals to me about this Rabbit is the simplicity and the originality of it; a preserved time capsule from less complicated times. As I read about the recall of every car with an airbag ever made, I couldn’t help but ponder how complicated building and engineering cars has become. Not only do automakers need to provide a means of transportation, they need to calculate nearly risk factors, buy and install sub-contracted components that hopefully are made to specification and deliver a car to market that performs flawlessly, reliably, and economically. They need to dress these cars with the most modern conveniences; cars today read your mail, open your doors, tell you how much traffic is directly around you, how to avoid potential traffic in the future and can even tell when you’re getting sleepy. If you think about it, it’s pretty insane. Then, you see something like this Rabbit L. It’s small, not particularly safe in a crash, not particularly luxurious, you have to do almost everything while driving it, and it will probably break. But it has a lot of character, and character is something I love:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit L on eBay

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1984 Volkswagen GTi 1.8T

Yesterday’s Rabbit was an interesting case of many good ingredients not necessarily making a good cake; or, at the very least, not an appropriately priced cake. I really wanted to like the car but even outside of the price there was just too much to get me really excited about it. Amazingly, at the same time as that car is listed, we have an interesting counterpoint of a Mk.1 to consider. This example started life as an actual GTi, so it automatically has a leg up – at least in theory – from the ’78 Rabbit that was used to create a GTi. It’s also been completely redone, and also themed with a Euro-feel, though this car has a completely different ethos even outside of the color. Under the hood we find a Mk.4-spec 1.8T mill, complete with transmission, gauges, harness, radio and immobilizer transplanted into this original hot hatch. The price? If you have to ask….

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen GTi 1.8T on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: Built To Euro-Spec 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit “GTi”

I was at my mechanic’s just the other day picking up my Passat when he asked me to give him a hand pushing a Mini Cooper S with a blown motor out of the way. He laughed as it rolled to a stop and remarked how heavy it was for such a small car. Of course, BMW made up for this by upping the power and the first of the new Minis is still a hoot to drive in S form, but he said to me “I’d rather have an original GTi”. I concurred; a legend even in its own time, the A1 GTi’s magic has never really been replicated by even Volkswagen themselves. Sure, there are faster, better built and better looking hatchbacks, but there’s something magical about the original – right down to the crazy stories both of us had about 11/10ths driving, flinging the small hatch at corners, overpasses, underpasses, small pets and occasionally pedestrians with abandon. Has all of that nostalgia turned into dollar signs in today’s market, though?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit on eBay

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1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup Diesel

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When you see copies of your first car on the road, do you get pangs to drop everything and go buy one? I do, and will always feel fortunate that my first year of driving was spent in a car as unique as Rabbit Pickup. Look around at the trucks available today; even the well-reviewed “small” Chevy Colorado is a pretty substantial beast. How great to be able to throw your stuff in the bed of a truck that weighs about a single ton, gets 45 mpg, and looks as good as a Mk1 Rabbit? Unless it’s a mediocre example for stupid money, I’m itching to get back in one. Today’s bronze Caddy gets me all hot and bothered as it looks exceptionally clean and comes with some serious Mk2 upgrades. The turbodiesel 1.9 liter is a significant improvement over the 1.6 non-turbo from a decade earlier, and this one also comes with the seats, steering wheel, and transmission from the donor 1992 Golf. The side graphics (which almost give a wood-panel look on the bronze paint) and front bumper delete help to make this funny little truck extra-unique.

Click for details: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup on eBay

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1981 Volkswagen Rabbit “Sleeper”

As I’ve written up a steady stream of Porsches and BMWs of late I thought it prudent to mix it up as I’d hate to get automotive tunnel vision. I had just finished editing some pictures of my girlfriend’s new MkVII Golf when it dawned on me that perhaps one of its early ancestors would make for an interesting post. With that in mind I set about scouring the depths of the internet in hopes of finding something quirky that would spark my interest. I’ve never been a rabid VW fanboy but my New England upbringing did instill a healthy appreciation for Das Auto. In my adolescence I probably spent more time in MkIII Jettas than any other car. A few friends had Golfs but for whatever reason those were far less popular in my neck of the woods. I like an underdog so I focused my search on old Golfs, passing over a number of listings for modified Jettas.

Personally I’ve always preferred the practicality of the hatchback design especially since the Golf was the base for the GTI, which with the exception of the MkIV & MkV, is a nameplate I am a fan of.  I think part of what I love about those older boxier designs is that they do not look fast, not even with a bunch of modifications. They are spartan, basic and from a design standpoint relatively un-inspired but that’s exactly what I think makes them cool. If older GTIs don’t ask for attention then the MkI Rabbit is the hermit of the VW family, living way out in the woods with no internet, phone or electricity. So when I came across a clean ’81 Rabbit hiding a 2.0L 16v EA827 under its hood, I knew I had to post it.

And now for something completely different.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit on VWVortex

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1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup

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I’m a huge Rabbit Pickup fan, and frequently startle the people around me when I see one as I excitedly point out “Look at that! That was my first car! Yes, that weird little Volkswagen. It was awesome.” Despite coming from Florida, today’s Caddy is pretty exceptional, sporting Mk3 running gear and full interior, taking the OEM+ concept to a wonderful extreme. Adding a turbo to the 2-point-slow should certainly help this pickup’s gittyup, while Weitec coil overs and upgraded brakes should help turn what was a fun driver into a moderately serious weapon. The Rabbit Pickup should never be taken too seriously, and the bold blue helps with that, but overall this is one of the more exceptional Caddy restomods I’ve seen.

Click for details: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup on eBay

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#Fail Friday: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup+

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My one main complaint with my 1981 Rabbit Pickup was that the passenger compartment was a pretty tight squeeze between the low roof and too-close rear wall – beyond that, it was a hilarious, competent, unique, and fun-to-drive car. Today’s oddball Frankenstein monster fixes my one gripe by melding a Rabbit Hatchback with a Pickup, creating a Crew Cab Caddy reminiscent of Rutledge Wood’s limo on Top Gear America (I don’t blame you if you haven’t seen it). While the extra legroom and seating for four are nice additions and it allegedly runs and drives, this is clearly a half-baked project with many, many needs. The seller thinks its rarity makes it as valuable as a top-notch Caddy, but it would take a lot of time and money to make it even presentable.

Click for details: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup on eBay

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1983 Volkswagen GTI

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Mk1 GTIs are getting harder to come by, so those enthusiasts looking for the affordable, tossable treat that it’s always been are going to have to start accepting some flaws to get behind the wheel. Today’s Giugiaro masterpiece comes in daily-driver form with 167k miles and some considerable blemishes, but it’s getting harder to find GTIs under $4k that aren’t basket cases. Yes, a few rust spots could use some attention, but it comes with a new sunroof to repair one of the glaring issues. The Mk3 leather seats are an attractive addition and the new wheels and tires look decent if overstretched. It’s going to be a project, but isn’t that what old VWs are supposed to be?

Click for details: 1983 Volkswagen GTI on eBay

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1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup TDI

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Today we have a sweet Rabbit Pickup that has gone through a complete restoration and updated to a rebuilt 1997 TDI motor from a Passat. These were efficient little buggers in the first place, but now it’s got a little more power while maintaining the best gas mileage of any truck out there. It may not be the most attractive Caddy we’ve seen, as the emblemless grille and tacked-on hood scoop scar the front while the innocuous grey has that slightly dull finish marking a budget repaint. But the interior is quite nice with Recaros and a nice wood wheel-and-knob combo, underscoring the fact that this little pickup is built for comfort and utility. With just 15k miles on the renewed package, the seller is looking for top-Caddy dollar, asking $11,400.

Click for details: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup TDI

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1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup

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I still miss my first car, a white 1981 VW Rabbit Pickup, and can easily recall the smell, the feel of the golf-ball shifter, and the way it liked to be tossed into corners. It doesn’t surprise me that they (along with what seems to be every funky, cool 80s German car) are slowly rising in value. There are pristine examples out there, both original and restored/modified, but the vast majority are survivors that have experienced some swaps and exploitation of the interchangeability of 1980s VW parts. Mine was certainly such a truck, and today’s 1983 example has been kept alive with a healthy appreciation for the OEM+ school of thought. It’s running a 1983 GTI engine, transmission, Snowflakes, and instrument cluster – nothing crazy, but if you like the GTI, you’ll have just as much fun (if not more) in this little hauler. Mk3 GTI seats are a nice upgrade, and overall the little Caddy looks decent and functional even with some like the bed showing age and use. It definitely makes me nostalgic, but does nostalgia make a piecemeal minitruck worth over five grand?

Click for details: 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup on eBay

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