Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Twofer Tuesday/Wednesday returns with a couple Wascally Wabbits

RABBIT STEW
High school cars are the best cars. They're actually the worst cars but the fact that they exist at all when you're 16 was enough to make anything that drove exhilarating. I had a friend who had this exact car in this exact color. We managed to get it up to 85mph several times and lived to tell the tale. What I'm talking about happens to be the 2nd best selling car of all time; the Volkswagen Rabbit.
This example is from anywhere in the range of 1980-1984. In '78 and '79 they had square headlights, but the turn signals were in the bumper as opposed to the outer edge of the grill enclosure.
Here she is in all her glory! This car is a lunchbox on wheels. If you tried to make a Mini Cooper out of origami it might look like this. However, with the wheels all the way out near the corners it actually handled pretty well. I've driven several of these and even had daily use of an '81 convertible version and they are very fun to drive. This is the dowdy 4-door though; imagine the performance with 5 adults in this thing?
This was the front-wheel-drive, front water-cooled engine successor to the Beetle, so you'll have to pardon the designers for their frugality! The gas cap is a big plastic asterisk that you simply unscrew. That makes sense for a gas cap, but the seat recliners worked the same way! There was a large plastic wheel on the seat where the bottom and top halves meet. To recline your seat you turned that dial like 20 times as it slowly crept back. 20 turns might be an understatement.
Before we turn from the above pic I have to give a shout-out to the front of the rear wheel well. See that darker front half of the fender flare? That is some sort of factory protection from either gravel kicked up from the front wheels or maybe scuffs from the legs of passengers squeezing into the back.
Oh yeah this interior is wack! First of all, a Club? Is someone really going to muster the courage to try and steal your busted 30 year old economy car? NO THEY'RE NOT. You took the faceplate to your radio, I guess I can see that as a truly sick junkie might try for the easy $10 resale, but this car with its stained black seat covers and butterscotch colored plastic dashboard? I think it's safe! I do enjoy the fact that it's a stick shift though.
Enough dissing this poor lil' bucket. Like I said this is the 2nd best seller of all time which warrants an explanation. This car was introduced in 1974 and has been built continually ever since. The rest of the world knew this as the Golf from day 1, while we in the U.S. knew it as the Rabbit until 1985. Rabbit, Golf, Cabrio, and even the Jetta are all the same car just with different names and body styles. By 2012 the Golf/Rabbit had sold over 29 million examples, beating out the Beetle and only falling behind the Toyota Corolla.
This takes the cake for bizarre rust-outs. What exactly caused this rot? Maybe someone was trying to tunnel in through the lower door in order to steal the car before seeing the Club?
Wow, a vintage Fahrvergn├╝gen sticker from 1990! For those of you who don't remember, Fahrvergn├╝gen was a word used in the 1990 VW ad campaign which roughly translates to driving enjoyment. It reminds me of hacky sacks and jocks with tie-dyed Grateful Dead shirts.
This color is either Royal Red or Indiana Red Poly (even though it looks burgundy to me).
Even a little worn around the edges this little donkey seems content to toil away for its owner. The perfectly boring bumper and grill speak to a purpose of no-frills service.
Now on to a more eager looking little hare:
What a difference the removal of the front bumper makes! This ride also has newer VW wheels and black fender flares to make it seem more aggressive and athletic. The color of this ride is Diamond Silver Poly.
The high-performance edition of the Golf/Rabbit was the GTI. This little cruiser was never a GTI, but may benefit from all the aftermarket parts available for this platform. The stance looks a touch tighter and taller thanks to those wheels, but with the bumpers removed it seems like the owner's going for a sportier image. If you invest a couple thousand bucks into upgrades you can set this car up for a rally.
The fender flares also do wonders for the image of this silver bullet. It seems every one of these has been plastered with various bumper stickers, but somebody's removed a couple here. The fact that the rear wiper is there and looks to be fitted with a blade is astonishing!
RABBIT DIESEL LS means that this ride is from the '82-'84 model years (the LS being a trim level one step down from the top). The real treat here is that DIESEL designation; the diesel engines in these cars are amongst the most legendary ever built for mileage and longevity. They will typically go 300,000 without a rebuild and deliver 50+ miles to the gallon! Sure it's a chattery, loud beast that smokes terribly, but if you bought one new for under $6,000 and drove it the equivalent of 12 times around the Earth who cares?
*One curiosity of these old diesels are the glow plugs. Before you start the car you pull a knob on the dash. Once it lights up the glow plugs are warm and you can start the car.
Go ahead and park as messily as you want; this thing has room to open the doors on both sides with crossing the parking space stripes. By todays standards these Rabbits are tiny. Actually, by late '70s/early '80s standards they are positively minuscule! 
Since the paint has faded completely and the original stripes have worn off before rust got a hold of the body I'm guessing that this was brought to NY from somewhere out West. However this example was parked out on Riverhead Long Island, so I suppose it could be a summer car that hibernates during the nasty months. Regardless I would love to jump in this thing and drive to the Canadian border and back on one tank of fuel, so if you'll pardon me I'm going to see what these little beasts are selling for.

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