Because Not Every Old VW Deserves To Live: Fetching Crusher Food!

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
because not every old vw deserves to live fetching crusher food

You don’t need a good reason to visit the Mecca of Colorado wrecking yards on the Fourth of July, but we had one: I was tagging along on a mission to grab a couple of dead Rabbits that could be turned into cash at Denver’s ever-ravenous Crusher/shredder. Here’s how the scrap-metal food chain that (mostly) ends in a Chinese foundry gets its roughage.

Andy, LeMons racer, automotive entrepreneur, and owner of a righteous yard-o-cars himself, had bought a couple of Malaise Era Volkswagen Rabbits at the Junkyard of Melted Brains a decade or so back, and he decided to celebrate our nation’s 236th birthday by driving 100 miles each way to pick them up. The key to this journey was his recent obtainment of a 1975 Chevrolet Scottsdale flatbed truck with a vintage flame job and a sufficiently low bed to allow Rabbit stacking.

It was 100 degrees out and the air conditioning was broken, but the bigger worry was the 454’s problem with fuel starvation due to bad-gas-induced clogging. Andy had flushed the tank and cleaned out the lines, but bad gas is sort of like nuclear waste; it tends to keep on contaminating for years.

The truck had problems climbing grades in hot weather, and you get plenty of grades and heat on I-25 on the Fourth of July. A stop to replace the fuel filter seemed to help.

Finally, we reached the dirt road that led to the JOMB.

Located way in the back of the yard were the VWs: a light blue Rabbit C Diesel and a gray Rabbit LS.

I was so mesmerized by the acres of vintage machinery that I didn’t offer much help loading the Rabbits. Just as well, because Andy mashed a middle finger right off the bat, and I probably would have found a way to smash the other one.

Rich has a GTI project that could use a radiator, and the Diesel Rabbit had a good one. Out it came!

These guys have a lot of experience hauling cars to The Crusher, so they knew they had to shorten the bottom car of the stack. Rabbits aren’t exactly substantial, particularly when built in Pennsylvania, so the Sawzall didn’t meet with much resistance.

After cutting the pillars and bending the roof back, the second car was ready for its parking space.

The LS got tipped up on its side, so that Andy could harvest the catalytic converter. It turns out that this was a very rare LS with factory air conditioning but not power steering. Is it worth anything? Yes, about $200/ton.

Next, the LS is eased into its position atop the Diesel.

Plenty of space for low bridges!

After the attachment of endless hooks, tie-downs, and cables, we were ready to go.

The truck ran much better in the cool evening air. Here’s my view out the rear cab window.

We stopped for a nice meal during our journey north to Denver.

Meanwhile, property values for the entire neighborhood plummeted. Multiply this trip to The Crusher by several thousand, every day, and you’ll get an idea of how the global steel industry gets much of its raw material.

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3 of 13 comments
  • Bill mcgee Bill mcgee on Jul 13, 2012

    Makes me nostalgic for my old 1980 Rabbit , which I bought new and sold at 8 years and 125k miles . It was the mid-level C model also , but with a fuel-injected gas engine and a 5-speed . Despite all the negative comment about the Pennsylvania Rabbits it was a decent little car , peppy for the era and superlative highway mileage ( typically 45mpg or more , back in those wonderful Carter era 55mph days . And compared to the Omnirizons or X-cars fairly reliable . Other than replacing the alternator (twice ) and the radiator I don 't remember anything going wrong - not bad for the malaise era .

    • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Aug 16, 2014

      Ditto. I inherited two of these beasts from my FIL. The first was a German diesel Mk1, the second a PA build Mk2. The PA car had an interior designed by malise era ex GM designers, so it was a little funny, but both cars ran and ran and ran. There was one flaw, in that the alternator was mounted high up, and the violence of the engine would eventually knock the bracket out of alignment. The car would toss the alternator belt. Still, you could go quite a ways without we discovered a few times.50 mpg, smoky and clattery. Both cars topped out at about 85, but would hold that speed no matter what. You just needed a lot of space to get there. When we sold them, at about 200k each (miles, not money) one was exported to the Bahamas and the other went to Jamaica. It is a LOOONG way to my current Mk 6 TDi......the only thing that is the same is the emblem and the slight clack at idle :)

  • Beemernator Beemernator on Jul 14, 2012

    The bit about using the diesel's radiator in a petrol GTI reminded me of a question that I thought of a long time ago. Given the fact that the VW diesel engine was based on the EA827 petrol block - can the (presumably) stronger diesel block and crank be used to build a petrol engine that makes really serious power?

  • Buickman GM sucks
  • Arthur Dailey "Check out the used car market." Late model, low mileage vehicles are in many instance selling for more than you would pay if you put a deposit on a new vehicle. The reason? Supply and demand. You can take the used vehicle home now. Whereas you might have to wait up to 24 months for your new vehicle.
  • VoGhost Matt, you say 'overpriced', but don't you mean 'underpriced'? It's when a manufacturer underprices, that dealers add their markup. If they were overpriced, the dealers would discount.
  • Bobbysirhan I'm surprised by the particular Porsches to make the list, and also by the Cadillac. Most of all, I'm shocked that the 2-door Mini Cooper is on here. I didn't even know they still made them, let alone that anyone was still buying them.
  • Ajla I assume the CT5 is on the list due to the Blackwing variant.It would be interesting to take the incentives that existed in October 2019 and include that in an analysis like this as well. The thing about the used market is that while you'll pay less in total dollars, in some cases the percentage increase from 2019 is even worse than with new cars. Buying a Saturn Relay for $6k isn't exactly a winning move.