Junkyard Find: 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1982 volkswagen rabbit pickup

Americans have never had many choices for front-wheel-drive pickup trucks; you could make your own by dropping a random pickup bed on a Sawzall-ized Sentra, or you could go with an Omnirizon-based Dodge Rampage or a Golf-based VW Caddy. Not many Rampages or Rabbit pickups left, though I did find this ’80 VW in a Denver junkyard last year. Now here’s another one, apparently quite unrusted, getting ready to be eaten by The Crusher.

Small pickups have no place in 21st-century America, because small pickups are glass-half-empty reminders of life’s limitations. Still, these things sipped gas (or, if you were very patient on freeway onramps, diesel) and could haul a surprising amount of cargo.

One can only imagine what happened to this truck’s 62 horses when the AC compressor went into action. Perhaps it was best to limit use of the air conditioning to roads with steep downhill grades.

These trucks have a small but fanatically devoted following, so it’s safe to assume that most of the good parts on this truck will get rescued by members of the Denver chapter of the Caddy Jihad.

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  • Cabandy Cabandy on Nov 19, 2012

    All you need to do is plop a TDI in that little pickup and now your talkin.... I did it and even picked up a few extras over what the LX had available in 1981, like electric door locks, cruise control, tach etc. Oh yeah incredible starting abilities, I don't even have to let the glow plugs activate and its running. I wish we could get a pickup from Germany that would have the TDI option today. This little pickup has some get up and go compared to the 1.6 turbo. Check out the TDIClub website fro more info on conversions.

  • Beegballoo Beegballoo on Oct 03, 2013

    I had an '82 with a gasoline engine and loved it. Quick and nimble and fun to drive. Very dependable except in hot weather and with less than 1/2 of a tank of gas, it had a bad habit of vapor locking. But give it 1/2 an hour and it was back on the road. It wasn't a REAL truck, one could feel the steel flexing under their feet when walking in the bed and once I carried a load of dirt that about folded the unibody pan in two. Never did that again! Had to sell it when the kids came along and I still miss it.

  • Crtfour If I could afford and was in the market for something like this, I'd be one of the ones to just go get a Range Rover instead (and possibly have money left over?) instead of a union assembled GM vehicle. But it's cool that something like this exists in this day and age.
  • Analoggrotto Such an awesome vehicle to hire remove the third row , fold the second row, hire a driver and have a 4 some w/ Mary Barra, Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama at 165 mph around Talladega. And that would be my idea of Wrenched Excess: Caligula 2023.
  • IH_Fever Cue the "it's not what I want, therefore you don't NEED it" crowd...
  • Tassos Nobody with any GOOD TASTE would either need OR WANT such a RIDICULOUS breadvan on stilts. Especially the laughable "V" version.
  • ToolGuy Here is a slightly more expensive one.