Junkyard Find: 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

I haven’t shot many Junkyard Finds involving water-cooled Volkswagens, mostly due to the fact that these cars tend to depreciate into the crush-worthy price range before age 15, which means that interesting VWs don’t appear too often in self-service wrecking yards. We saw this ’82 Scirocco and this ’80 Dasher Diesel recently, and I’ve found 2/1461ths of the North American Etienne Agnier Edition Golfs in junkyards, but nearly all the Golfs I find these days are Mk2s or later, or Mk1 Cabrios (or ones that I’m helping to load up for a trip to The Crusher). Here’s a genuine, numbers-matching (maybe), final-year-of-American-production, Westmoreland-built, Mk1 Rabbit two-door that I spotted in Denver a while back.

Nothing very special about this car, other than being uncommon in the junkyard.

No shortage of these engines in the world.

The Whorehouse Red Velour Interior craze peaked in the mid-1980s; Japan and Detroit did the most lurid red interiors, but VWoA made some good ones as well.

This car isn’t a GTI, but the ’84 GTI TV ad was so great that I’m including it anyway.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Bill mcgee Bill mcgee on Aug 17, 2014

    Mine was a 1980 Rabbit that I bought new and sold at 8 years old and 125k miles . It had the 5-speed , fuel injection and sunroof . Given the context of the times not a bad car , only recall replacing the plastic radiator and the alternator ( twice ). Capable of what now seems unbelievable mileage ( over 45 m.p.g on the highway ) but at the time we had the crappy 55 m.p.h. speed limit and even in Texas it was heavily enforced . Back then a car of that size weighed in about 2000 lbs, of course no airbags , etc. and about as quick or quicker than the other malaise era cars .

  • Blppt Blppt on Aug 25, 2014

    My parents had a 77 Rabbit---man, what an awful car. The paint held up about as well as the Volare they also had at the same time, but the mechanical issues---dear Lord. We always had to take the (much maligned) slant-6 Volare out to rescue dad because the fuel injectors would freeze up anytime the temperature got below freezing outside.

  • Ajla No, with a "classic" I want the entire experience, not just the styling exercise so I'd have zero desire to remove the period engine**. With a normal 3-7 year old used car such a conversion being economical while I'm still above ground seems unlikely. **If the car is already ripped apart then whatever but otherwise I lean heavily to no major alterations.
  • Jalop1991 Whole lotta EV hate here.
  • 28-Cars-Later They were mocked as whales in their time but the last B-bodies really were ideally suited for decades of family use and long distance travel.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Naturally, GM turned to its most tech-forward engineering team to work on the [Cadillac] Northstar: Oldsmobile."The most GM phrase I have seen yet.
  • Carson D The automotive equivalent of necrophilia appeals to people who have no redeeming social value.