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?

  • MKizzy We can pretty much agree at this point that all Ford ecoboost engines regardless of displacement are of trash quality.
  • Jeff71960 once a fun fast little car (if you can find an unmolested one)... unfortunately boy racer types trashed most of them
  • Pig_Iron How many second chances does Farley get? Is there a plan to deliberately destroy Ford? 😞
  • Tassos Neons, new, used, or junk like this one, were the right car to own if you wanted it advertised what a lame loser you were.
  • Damage My mother had a 78 with the FI motor. If you wound it out in first (not that she ever did) it would reward you with just a little tickle of torque steer. It was pretty reliable until water leaks from below the windshield found the fuse block. Once that was fixed, it was good for several more years. Eventually it got rusty and was sideswiped by a snowplow, and she sold it to my coworker who got several more years out of it. She traded it for a Mk2 Jetta, which was a fun little car. I don't miss the Rabbit but I'd love to find a clean Jetta again.