Thursday, September 15, 2016

First generation American with dual citizenship

Today I'm featuring another selection from my Oregon heatwave visit from last year. Here we have a first generation American whose parents are from Germany. Who would've guessed this ride is as American as it gets?
What we have here is a 1981-1983 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup Truck LX in Cashmere White.
VW introduced this spinoff of their popular Rabbit in 1980. In only that first year the turn signals were located within the bumpers. Starting in '84 the headlights were more flush with the grill rather than inset so we know it's in the '81-'83 range.
From the moment these little trucks were introduced they were built in a Pennsylvania factory making this the first foreign car built in the U.S.
Just like the AMC Gremlin this ride is a doppelganger of another vehicle from the doors forward. However where the Gremlin was a car chopped in half this one grew an additional 9 inches in length. The bed was 6 feet from cab to tailgate which was pretty good for a mini truck.
This looks so plain-Jane but it actually is the mildly upgraded LX edition. The only way we can tell (since the original tailgate with its badging is missing) is by the bumpers being chrome.
To see one of these so rust-free is astounding to any East-Coaster!
The VW Rabbit Truck spread to other continents and was known in the rest of the world as the VW Caddy. This fits the VW mantra as the Rabbit was always labeled  Golf outside of the States.
Production of the Caddy lives on to this day elsewhere in the world currently only in its 3rd generation (though face lifted several times). The 2016 Caddy has some amazingly-named versions such as Caddy Life and Caddy Maxi Tramper.
Even though the tailgate has been changed there is an excellent chance that this is a diesel. Most of the first generation trucks were diesel with a 5 speed manual. Interestingly the 5th gear was labeled E for Economy. If you wanted the automatic you had to choose the gasoline engine. None of these combinations (5 speed included) were quick but the truck proved very capable at small tasks. That same legendary diesel engine propelled Rabbits of the era to 300,000 mile lifespans, something that was absolutely unprecedented in its day.
Well there we have it; a small, cute, capable little donkey that just wants to work and please its owner. I remember as a kid riding in a friends moms Rabbit that they bragged was the cheapest version available. It had black rubber mats in lieu of carpet and no radio (it was the most yellow car I've seen to this day!). Finding a stripped-down truck to drive around in today would be great as reliability and parts availability are both top-notch. With a small camper fitted to the back it might be the ultimate road trip vehicle. Hats off Caddy!

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