By on August 27, 2012

The non-convertible Mk1 VW Golf was sold in the United States through the 1984 model year and the Cabriolet version well into the 1990s, which means that most of the examples you see in high-turnover wrecking yards nowadays are the soft-top variety. I have a friend who is trying to get a long-idle GTI project into streetworthy condition, and so I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a 3-door hatch Mk1 Rabbit with black interior for him. After six months of spotting Cabrios and the occasional hooptied-out 5-door, I found this ’79 in a Denver self-serve yard.
Not many econoboxes came with factory fuel injection in 1979. The (gasoline-powered) Rabbit was more fun to drive than most of its Malaise Era Japanese and Detroit competition, but still intolerably slow by present-day standards. Fuel economy was great, though.
The round headlights indicate that we’re looking at a car built in Germany, not Pennsylvania.

“I owned my last Volkswagen for seven years!”

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64 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit 3-Door...”


  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Weren’t these EFI Rabbits the ones that you pull up next to with a CB radio, and while talking, watch as the Rabbit sputters and dies (AKA:”Rabbit-hunting”)?

    What was the deal with that? Was there ever a fix?

    • 0 avatar
      sexyhammer

      what? hahaha. i’d love to know how CB radio interference could kill an EFI system. seems like an urban legend, reminds me of the tales of the SMERCH radar in the MiG-25′s cooking rabbits on the side of the runways. speaking of radar, how’s your Z31?

    • 0 avatar
      zbnutcase

      No! These were not EFI, they were Bosch Continuous Injection System, only major electrical part was the fuel pump! Feel free to drop the urban legend anytime!

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        The CIS system eventually got an Oxygen sensor too so it was a bit more than completely mechanical. I had an ’84. Would do 120 mph flat out on the autostrada and returned good fuel mileage at mere mortal speeds. I would run it ~100 mph from Rome to Naples or vice versa. It was a US Spec convertible.

    • 0 avatar
      millmech

      I heard stories of CB interference with the earlier Bosch model D, all-electronic injection.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        D-Jetronic was much older … late 1960s VW Type 3s had it, as had the early 1970s Porsche 914s. Pretty advanced for its time, but it was definitely life on the bleeding edge.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I’ve found various reports of radios Back In The Before Times interfering with the fuel injection system *on the same car*, either by putting noise into the power stream or because the antenna line was causing inductive noise into the FI system because of bad routing.

        Either one of those is at least vaguely plausible (esp. the former), much more so than the “next car over, through the car body” idea.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    Oh the car from my childhood. My grandfather owned one of these beauties and drove it with gusto with me and my brother going “weee!” in the back seat the whole time.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Had a 1977 Rabbit during high school…loved that little hatch. Not much in the way of creature comforts, but the danged thing ran…and ran…and ran. My cousin had a 1979 Diesel variant that, up until a few years ago, I still saw running around the town she grew up in (the car was sold several years after she graduated college). talk about longevity. Every one in a while I see a decently maintained/restored GTi..sure, it had all of 90 or so HP, but it just looked so danged cool what with the upgraded interior and rims and all…

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I love these, especially the round headlight versions from Germany.

    Back in the late 80′s (1988 or so), my best friend bought a bright yellow ’77 3 door, much like this one, except it had the sunroof that didn’t work (stripped gear or broken cable), so it simply stayed shut.

    It was the base one with a fresh respray and the wheels looked new, or repainted argent steelies with the black rubber cap in the center.

    He ended up with some problems with it, sold it to a friend who drove it from Tacoma Washington to LA, and it got totaled out on the interstate along the way, from what I heard.

    Great little cars with the black vinyl interior.

    To be honest, I don’t find 90-100HP too terribly slow, if you drive them appropriately. The little Fiat 500 with 101hp did fine when I test drove one last year, and it only has 101hp.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Fiat is considered slow because three things have changed. Car and Driver put a 101 hp 500 on a scale and it weighed 2,427 lbs. That’s 20+% more than a 1977 Rabbit. The speed limit 35 years ago was 55 mph. Thirdly, almost everything else on the market was at least as slow as the Rabbit. My neighbors had a fuel injected round-eye Rabbit and we thought it was an absolute hot rod compared to the domestic cars we were borrowing from our parents’ driveways when we were 12-14 years old. Full sized cars typically had 105 to 165 hp at the time, heck the Corvette fit in that range in some states. Today mainstream midsized cars have between 175 and 300 hp.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        CJ,

        I grew up in the 70′s, came of age late in the decade, graduated from HS in ’83, so I’m familiar with those years, from a kid standpoint, but still, I am well aware of the double nickle limit as I drove during it’s heyday, and even drove an early 80′s Civic during the 90′s, with all of 67hp.

        That said, I didn’t find the Fiat too slow for today’s driving. Is it a pocket rocket, hell now it aint, but it’s sprightly, not slow, and reacts when you tell it to, provided you are willing to let the revs climbs to the heart of its rev band.

        I currently drive an 03 Mazda Protege5 with all of 130hp, and I still don’t find it a pocket rocket, though it’s plenty zippy and when I drop it down a gear, it literally zooms on past quite quickly, and is quick to launch from a stop in most situations.

        It’s weakness is it’s a 4spd sport stick auto (not my choice, bought it used), but even there, it’s not wanting in geddyup and go.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Our other car is a 115HP VW Cabrio. I think it’s a hoot. Plenty fast to get me into jail if I drive it like an idiot. It doesn’t win any drag races but I can stay ahead of the pack just fine. It ~2800 lbs. My 90HP ’84 Rabbit convertible was more like 2200 lbs I think. It too was a hoot to drive.

      Frankly I’ve never enjoyed a car that NEEDED a V-8 or V-6 to haul it down the road. I prefer to buy cars that are well suited for a GOOD four cylinder.

      Rode in a brand new Beetle turbo this weekend with the DSG transmission. That thing is a hoot. My friend put the hammer down and it shoved us into the seats and just took off. Despite all the fun, I don’t need that kind of power to get around the places I go, don’t feel the need to impress anyone with the tricks my car can do.

      The Beetle had 200HP in a chassis that weighs about the same as my Cabrio I’d guess.

  • avatar
    JSF22

    About as nimble a car as you could buy in 1980, and they really seemed bigger inside than outside, but they sure drove a lot of people to Toyota who never returned.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Another way to tell the West German-built Rabbit/Golf is by the marker lights. The German models are mounted horizonal and are solid red or amber, the US-built models mounted vertically and had black borders around them.

      I ordered a chocolate brown exterior/cognac interior ’76 Rabbit with sliding roof new from a family friend who was a dealer in Boston. I drove all over New England in it summer and winter, and had zero problems. But, had I known that the next model year car would come with fuel injection, I could have waited six months and gotten one of those. I also bought a used ’82 Rabbit(US-built)later, and it too was dependable all along but was trimmed inside like(as VW themselves admitted) a Malibu. Still comfortable, just looked so malaise-era cheap. I remember that Honda only started using fuel injection towards the end of 1985 for US-bound cars, and then only for premium models(CRX-Si, Prelude Si, Accord SEi).Maybe five years later, Honda used fuel injection in most models.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    I have mixed feelings. Sure it was a car ahead of its time in many ways. I spent more hours in Mk 1s than I care to remember. Fun to drive? I guess. Certainly easy to drive. Not so fun to be a passenger. Not much room in the back seat. Noisy. Bumpy in potholes. At least the heater was better than in the Beetle.

    The world has moved on since the Mk 1.

    But I can’t remember the private airplane crowd driving these things.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      The private airplane crowd may have bought Muffy a cabrio so her and the other tri-delts could zip around campus

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      > I spent more hours in Mk 1s than I care to remember. Fun to drive? I guess.

      Mine was incredibly noisy and tended to produce motion sickness in passengers at a higher rate than normal… short wheelbase, choppy ride. However those MK1 bucket seats were incredibly comfortable.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Last built in 1984? Either they were well produced or really over produced. I remember seeing them in large numbers well into the 90′s.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      After 1980, the Pennsylvania cars were definitely overproduced. There was a real glut as the design got old, less competitive and gained a bad rep for unreliability.

      At the same time, the new Civic, Escort and other competitors came on tap. There just wasn’t enough demand to justify cranking out Mark 2 Golfs to meet the PA factory’s capacity, so it closed up in 1988.

      Looking at the success of what’s coming out of Chattanooga now, one can only wonder what might have been if VW had been more responsive to the U.S. market back then.

  • avatar
    skor

    These things infested the parking lots of my college campus. Man I just hated the styling…..if that’s what you want to call it.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Giorgetto Giugiaro (you may have heard of him?) designed not only the Mk1 Golf/Rabbit but also the Mk1 Passat and Mk1 Scirocco. He used similar themes in the later Mk1 Lancia Delta and Mk1 FIAT Panda, and to a lesser extent the Mk1 SEAT Ibiza and the Isuzu Impulse.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        The GTI started the Hot-Hatch craze in the early ’80s, nailing one last blow to the Malaise era automobile. The Scirocco was an awesome version which in 16V mode could run rings around nearly every sports car minus the high-end cars and the Mazda RX-7.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          Taking nothing away from the GTI, I’d nominate another hot hatch from 1975-79 for starting the craze, the Honda Civic CVCC 5-Speed with tach, simulated wood steering wheel and shift knob, and model-unique houndstooth upholstery.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I remember US GTIs as having either bordello red interiors or blue interiors with red stripes. Were there really black ones?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Muriel is looking for a Rabbit with a black interior, not the US GTI.

      There were some German-built GTIs sold in Canada before the US-built ones were introduced; those had black interiors as well. Surely not many of them left now, though.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    “intolerable slow”?!? Seriously? 70hp or so in a 2000bl car is nothing to sneeze at.

    • 0 avatar
      LeadHead

      Yes it is. Imagine a new Camaro/Challenger/300/Ford Explorer with 140HP. They’d be intolerably slow.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Not if they wieghed 2000lbs.

        Plus despite the ever-increasing amount of horsepower avaible to the common folk, I still leave everyone for dead at the lights in my 65hp Triumph Spitfire. Which is because the average American cannot find full throttle with a GPS, and holding the pedal down on a V6 Camry would give most of them a heart attack.

      • 0 avatar
        mechimike

        Drive an 85 HP, 2400 pound car to work every day. Never have an issue keeping up with traffic, and I don’t understand why every frickin’ Camry and Fusion and piece of crap Accord has to have 300 horsepower. Sure, modern cars are heavier, I get it. I understand why, even if I don’t agree with it. But the average car driver doesn’t need or use 300 HP. If anything, all it creates is problem driving behavior. We’d all be a lot better drivers if we had about 1/2 the power to weight ratio. And CAFE would increase across the board.

        To me, HP is simply a numbers game, and the car companies are trying to sell us a bill of good we neither need nor particularly want. But then, what else is new?

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        YAY! Somebody gets it. Yes, 200+ HP in a grocery getter driven by a person who doesn’t know what to do with it nor ever has an opportunity to need it is ridiculous. I watched as a friend tried to justify a V-6 Accord one time though they hardly ever nailed the throttle. They got the car and later realized the same thing. Geez, this thing burns more gas and I don’t drive any faster than before…

        I’ll keep shopping for vehicles with reasonable weigh to HP ratios. I can drive a 3300 lb CR-V or I can drive a 5,000 lb Chevy something. Both carry the same cargo and passenger load. I’d rather have the ‘V or hatchback or small wagon and enjoy the drive vs the jiggly heavy vehicle with no road manners getting sub 20 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      dvdlgh

      I agree. 79 Corolla SR5 liftback, 85 626 5dr hatchback and an 89 Accord 2dr all with man trans. All were lightweight and not a lot of horsepower. All were great to drive. The Toyota with rear wheel drive was the most fun. And good mpg’s to boot. I would love to my hands on any one of them again.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        RWD Corolla and Celica hatchbacks – I lusted after a sharp blue Celica liftback 5 speed when I was about 17. It was really a nice car. My father had the coupe version. It seemed SO ADVANCED and refined compared to my ’81 Mustang that was well appointed by not nearly as impressive. The Celica had a four cylinder that made more power than my Mustang’s big 3.3L (90HP) six cylinder that got lousy fuel economy and was running out of breath it seemed before 75 mph. At 75 mph it was guzzling the gasoline too. The speed limits had just been raised to 65 mph and it seemed to get better geared for 62 mph. I did some long trips in that car and considered a five speed conversion the whole time. I liked my Mustang but there were alot of lousy details about it – single carb, restrictive exhaust, three speed automatic, really hard rear suspension, rear quarter windows that needed to pop out, and a hatchback that rattled so much compared to the VWs, Alfas, Lancias, Hondas, and Toyotas I owned/drove.

        I liekd that old six cylinder but thought there was alot of efficiency that probably could have been wrung out of it with small side draft carbs or multipoint fuel injection and a better exhaust design.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    These were great cars! Too bad we’ve let the government legislate 2000 lb cars out of existence.

    A new 35-yr old Rabbit, or even a 25-yr old Golf, is what we need. A new Rabbit with an updated 1.6 liter engine would get an honest 35 mpg and 45 on the highway–and that’s gasoline, not diesel.

    And with manual (but reasonably light) steering and brakes, it would make for better drivers–if that didn’t cure distracted driving, the noise would!

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Interesting choice of private airplane. The Cessna 152 is nearly as slow and as simple as that Rabbit in the world of light aircraft. As you can see form the gold stripe on the 152, aircraft manufacturers were right there with the car builders on colors. The interior more than likely matches the stripe.

    A 152 owner might have driven a Rabbit. Why have a flashy car when you can have a non-flashy airplane? At least the airplane could do 100 mph for about 3 hours straight, pretty sure 100mph for the Rabbit was a stretch, if not impossible. The 152 was probably about 15-20k in 1979 dollars.

    Before general aviation was turned on its head by litigation, Cessna was the equivalent of GM in model line-up. The two seat 152 was the bottom, 4 seat 172 was next with a few variations on that theme. The 182 would be a full size, followed by the 210 which was the station wagon of the time. All of which could be had as fixed or retractable landing gear at some point in their lives, turbo or not. After that came the twin engine piston 300/400 series, the turbine 400 series and finally the Citation business jet.

    Now, Cessna sort of resembles what GM will probably become. You can get a 162 ( the spiritual successor to the 152, though it is all carbon fiber and made in China) the 172, 182 (turbo or not with a diesel version in testing) or the 206 and Corvalis. They no longer build retractable gear single engine anything or medium piston or turbine twins. Only the Citation family of jets, which do very well with quite a few variations.

    A good albeit 30 year old 172 with room for 4 can be had for around the cost of an optioned up 3 series. A new 172 is 300k!

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      Yes,na good solid 4 seat airplane can be bought for the price of a new entry luxury sedan. But it will cost MUCH MORE to own and operate. Ask me how I know (Piper Warrior owner)

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Yeah,I know airplane ownership is expensive JB and you have a relatively “cheap” plane to operate. I was just trying to draw some parallels between the world of general aviation and automobiles. I’d rather drop 50k on an airplane over a new car. Now, I didn’t mention in my original post the engine and maintenance cost, fuel cost and hangar or tiedown fees. That all adds up of course, but in the world of toys, there’s always a price to pay outside the purchase (which many forget about).

        Though I love cars and driving, I’d rather fly anywhere. And I would rather buy a cheap car if I could have a moderately expensive airplane, costs included.

  • avatar
    HillbillyInBC

    I drove one of these in college, a 1980 US-built 2-door with a carb engine and 4-speed manual. Aside from a few minor problems it served me well for four years before I upgraded to a GTI. Broke a timing belt early in the first year, but the non-interference engine design made this a mere inconvenience. That was my only unscheduled service trip; the other two component failures (fuel pump and fan-speed switch) I replaced myself.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    They sold the Mark 1s in South Africa up until 2009.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Friend of mine had one of these, I recall the injectors had to be cleaned or replaced fairly frequently, to the tune of a few hundred bucks. Aside from that it was a pretty slick little ride.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Nah, I drove a CIS injection Rabbit for years. My car had 190K and the original injectors, never cleaned. The one odd quirk it had was that at some point the sparkplugs would wear out and the car just wouldn’t start. Maybe every 50K miles or so. And then maybe it was a result of running mine at triple digit speeds regularly. Anyhow, throw a new set in the car and it would start right up. Without changing them it would crank all day long and never fire up. Fortunately that was easy, about 10 minutes.

  • avatar
    JohnA

    I had a 1978 Rabbit like this that was really fun to drive, but quite unreliable. I had to have it towed out of my driveway twice for repairs. It was German-built. In 1983 I bought a Rabbit GTI when they first came out. I was worried about the reliability, since it was built in Pennsylvania, but I ended up owning it for 9 years and put 110,000 miles on it without a single problem! It was also the most fun car I’ve ever driven. I really miss it (even though I now own a BMW 330i).

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I bought a 1980 Rabbit , 4- door with fuel injection , optional 5 -speed and a sunroof . Great car , in retrospect . With the 5-speed it was capable of extremely good mpg , many times got over 45 mpg on the highway . Of course this was the 55-mph era- how we stood it I don’t know .In 125k moles the only problems I ever had was replacing the alternator ( twice ) , the water pump and the radiator, which was mostly plastic as I recall . The fuel injection never had any problems and neither did the fuel injection in the 1970 Squareback this car replaced . Despite all the sneers then and now about being built in Pennsylvania at the time it was widely considered to have the best build -quality of any car then built in America . Of course considering Detroit ” quality ” of the malaise era , that may not say all that much. And many parts came from elsewhere – Germany , Brazil and Mexico . And as I remember even tho it was always garaged the interior plastics ( red ) faded into all sorts of different colors from orange to purple . Given the times a peppy , well built car , especially compared to contemporary X-cars , Escorts , etc .

    • 0 avatar
      ZekeToronto

      I had the mate to the Mk1 you described for one glorious summer in my late teens. Although the “glorious” had more to do with my sex life at the time, the car was good too. My only complaint was the shifter. I used to call it a rotary shift, because even though the throw was short, the linkage was so loose it felt like you were going around in a circle (instead of up, down and sideways) through the gear pattern. But hey, it was a 5-speed and had fuel injection and a sunroof … and got great mileage from one girlfriend’s house to the next!

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        The shifter on the late 90s cars wasn’t any better. When all is right, it shifts really nicely. When it wears out, the gears are all over the place. Fortunately the rebuild kit is less than $20. I bought one a couple of weeks ago. Bunch of nylon plastic parts. Mine has lasted 176K miles. I can live with that.

  • avatar
    mtl_one

    Owned an 82 2dr, auto. Previous owner was on old lady who never drove it. Got me through university, numerous road trips, and many years thereafter. Even had it written off in the first year of ownership after a frontend collision. Bought it back with the insurance proceeds and got it back on the road for what was a total 8 year service life. Only PITA was that the fuse box would get damp when it rained. Successful DIY fix for that. The only thing that could have made the car more fun, would have been a stick version.

    Man, did I love that car and all things VW back then. Now I am having a hard time letting go with my 03 Protégé 5 with only 85,000Ks……stick of course.

  • avatar
    DownEaster

    The Rabbit were a good little car. I remember the diesels being troublesome if they weren’t taken care of correctly. The Imperials of 1981 to 1983 had a similar problem with their fuel injection as described above. If they drove near large power lines they often shut down. Chrysler replaced the fuel injection with a carb. Another interesting fact about the Rabbits or Golf MK1 is that after they shut down the plant in Pennsylvania in the 1980s, VW shipped the tooling to South Africa and they started building the 1st generation Golf/Rabbit there as the Citi Golf. The car was built from 1984 till 2009. So you technically you could have a first generation Rabbit that is only 3 years old if you could import one into the US. Kind of neat! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Citi_Golf

  • avatar
    snakebit

    As Murilee posted, the junkyard Rabbit is a German-built version, but I doubt it’s a 1979 gas Rabbit. By that year, the factory at Westmoreland, PA was in full swing, and again as Murilee posted, the US-built were distinguished by square headlights and US-specific marker lamps as on the Rabbit in the filmed commercial. My guess if it’s a gas Rabbit is 1977 or very early 1978, judging by the headlights,marker lamp design, and the fuel injection. The seat fabric looks like American stuff, but they could have been recovered later by the owner.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Didn’t the US built Rabbits have vertical side marker lights and the Cherman built hve horizontal ones?

      • 0 avatar
        OliverTwist

        Yes, in addition to the aforementioned difference, the taillamps are wider with narrower numberplate housing as to convey the ‘bigger’ appearance. The revision also saw the wraparound front turn signal indicator integrated with side running lamps. The interior was softened up with colour-keyed material, and the suspension was adjusted to the ‘marshmallow’ setting.

        Don’t forget that Rabbit pick-up truck was also built there, too.

        The ‘Americanised’ Rabbit wasn’t hit with both buyers and corporate executives in Germany. Volkswagen regretted its decision to create the ‘cream puff’ Rabbit for US market.

        In addition, the labour unrest, outdated manufacturing at Westmoreland, quality issues, and amongst other things are what doomed the ‘Americanised’ Rabbit.

        Ironically, the ‘Americanised’ Passat on the market today is a big hit with the US buyers…go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      It’s a gasoline engine b/c I recognize the CIS injection on top and to the right (driver’s side). The diesels had a different injection system.

      On the CIS injection system there is a floating throttle plate in the housing on the right (driver’s side). As air rushes past it into the engine, the CIS injection matches the fuel flow to the injectors. There are two fuel pumps, one near the tank that simply gets the fuel up front and one next (behind?) the injection fuel distributor (that part on the right) that boosts it to a much higher pressure. I think around 75 psi maybe.

      By the way this same fuel injection system has been fitted to aircooled VW engines by DIY’rs with great success. Apparently they can get more economy and power than the original single carbs and some of the dual carb kits (Dellorto and Weber).

      I’m on the prowl for a six cylinder BOSCH CIS system – probably BMW or Mercedes is the source. I wnat to install it on a Corvair flat six. Am planning to rejug it from 2.7L to 3.1L using VW Type IV (bus, Porsche 914, 411/412) pistons and cylinders. other option would be Megasquirt instead of CIS.

  • avatar
    dwight

    My parents had a 75 rabbit with a carbureted engine. Wonderful little car when it wasn’t in the shop. It rusted quickly and at the tender age of six years old, it was put out to pasture. Despite its faults, I still enjoyed it up to the day we sold it. It essentially set the tone for my own automotive history which has led me up to a Mark 4 City Golf (sold only in Canada).

    Funny thing was we replaced it with an ’81 Dodge Omni, kinda the same car. Even had a 1.7L VW engine. The Omni felt bigger inside but didn’t have the fun factor of the Rabbit, except when driven on a frozen lake.

  • avatar
    blppt

    Ugh. My Dad had a ’77 Brownish colored model with the “mechanical” fuel injection. What a nightmare. I have vivid memories of having to get up with Mom at 4 AM in 10 degree weather to go rescue Dad because the Rabbit wouldnt start (he worked odd hours at a local utility). Funny how the mechnically simple slant 6/2bbl in that “rescue” Volare wagon never once failed in any weather, and this technological marvel from Deutschland (yes, it too had those round headlights) would up and die anytime any adverse climate touched its “advanced” injectors.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      The slant-6 was rude and crude, but it kept going like the energizer bunny. I remember when Hot Rod Magazine did a feature on the slant-6, “Slant-6: The Thing That Wouldn’t Die”. In high school my friend had a Dodge Dart, the car was 20 years old, and the tin-worm had pretty much reduced the body to its base elements….no floor boards, we called it the “Flintstones Car”. The engine still ran. We tried to kill it by draining all the fluids and putting a brick on the gas pedal. After 30 minutes we gave up, and called the junk man to haul it away.

      • 0 avatar
        blppt

        Yeah, other than the engine/transmission, that Volare, was a POS. Uncomfortable, noisy, slow, rode like a delivery truck, terrible factory AM radio (even the Rabbit had FM), the exhaust system would rot and need work pretty much every two years, but the thing just never gave up. Never left us stranded. And even after my parents replaced it with an 88 Reliant (another underrated car in terms of reliability), my Grandfather took it and ran it for another 5 years before selling it (didnt need it anymore, nothing wrong with it). Although there was some rust, it didnt hurt the frame and the car was still inspection-worthy. Guess we got lucky on that end, LOL, considering the horror stories I’ve heard about the Aspen/Volare rustbuckets.

      • 0 avatar
        blppt

        Also, I never realized how tempermental carbs could be until the ‘rents bought a new ’87 Omni with that awful electronic choke…talk about a nightmare starting up…it almost got to the level of that rabbit in terms of failing to start. As I remember, my first car (an ’87 horizon, bought used years later) was just as bad, so it wasnt just a lemon. That 2bbl Volare was flawless in starting in any weather that I can remember.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    re:OliverTwist

    The Americanized comment about the US-built Rabbit is hilarious. After a few years of this, someone from VW Europe said something like, ‘I don’t believe this, we’re making Malibu’s, referring to the Malibu of the late ’70′s and early ’80′s.

    As I wrote before, I had a ’76 German-built Rabbit, and later, an ’82 US-built car. Mechanically, and from a seat construction standpoint, I liked the ’82 as well as the ’76.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Shortly after I took delivery of my 1980 Rabbit the Jettas came out and a friend bought a new Jetta which I comparison drove . To me handling was much more identical , but the interior was completely different . The Jetta and the other contemporary German built VWs had much nicer durable looking interiors with firmer seats than the Pennsylvania car – really like comparing a BMW and yeah a Malibu . At the time I wished I had waited and bought a Jetta GLI , though I don’t remember what the price differential was , and I always preferred wagons / hatchbacks . Another college roommate bought a new 1975 Rabbit . Total POS , noisy and rattly , really cut rate interior that looked like something out of the soviet bloc , lousy carbed engine , constantly needing repairs .They really hadn’t worked the bugs out yet .

  • avatar
    bill h.

    Family friends sold us their two year old frog-green ’77 with CIS just as I was graduating college. I drove it cross country to get to my summer job and cross country again to get to grad school in the fall. It served me well for many years afterward, even to the point where I got one of the last Mk I GTIs in ’84, which I kept well into the mid-90s. Fond memories of cars that were pretty decent in Fun Factor and reliability, at least for me.


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  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India