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Project Turbunnium: Introduction

Wes Grueninger

Production Editor, VWvortex.com

The “Rabbit Test” was the kind of hideous procedure that makes grown men cross their legs just a little bit tighter when they hear about it. Popular during the early 20th century, doctors would inject womens’ urine into the bloodstream of female rabbits. After a few days, the rabbit would get sliced open, and if its ovaries had swollen then the woman was pregnant. She would then go home and excitedly call relatives to tell them that “the rabbit died,” which passed for happy news at a time when the word “pregnant” couldn’t even be said on broadcast radio. That this procedure exists in the first place raises a lot of thoughts, most of them prefaced with “eew” and many of them involving attempts to get my head around someone actually discovering the Rabbit Test in the first place.

I first learned about the Rabbit Test during the summer of 2006, at the press launch for the then-new 2006 Rabbit. A journalist sitting by thought that referring to how the rabbit had died, but was now reborn, would make a great line for her review of the VW. Seeing the look on my face, she went into excruciating detail about how the procedure was carried out, curing me not only of any lingering doubts, but also my desire to eat lunch. Yet even that wasn’t the most shocking thing I’d hear during the trip. The Rabbit’s starting price of $14,990 would take that honor. After hearing that bit of news, I thumbed my cell phone open, called my girlfriend, and told her she was now on the hook.

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Cherise LaPine-Grueninger

Associate Editor, VWvortex.com

I rarely venture outside of VWvortex and into The Car Lounge; that’s Wes’ domain. But I’ve been known to make an appearance, usually to defend Volkswagen of America. And, more than once, I’ve stated publically that if I could ever purchase a new VW at the magical $15,000 price point, I would. Leave it to VW to come through when it was least expected.

In my happiest of daydreams, that hypothetical VW happened to be Polo-shaped, but I was fairly sure it wouldn’t happen. Before the MKV’s name was announced, the only way I could see myself spending 15 large on a “Rabbit” was if I figured out how to import and federalize a South African Citi Golf. I wasn’t expecting my soon-to-be fiancé to call from the Rabbit press launch, specifically to tell me about the Rabbit’s $14,990 cost of entry. As I heard the news, I knew my bluff would be called.

Almost exactly a year later, we sat side-by-side in a 2007 Candy White, 2-door, manual, blissfully option-free save the alloy wheels and iPod adapter.

For the first year, we plotted, planned, hypothesized… and although we readily agreed on a specific car to purchase, we realized joint car ownership is even more complicated than sharing a bed and a bathroom. Up until now, all of my cars have been subject to a strict no-eating policy, yet he’s immune to the smell of old McD’s coming out of the vents. He wants more power; I (as primary driver) loved being able to buy regular gas. And so it goes.

Fortunately, none of which was a factor in day-to-day ownership of the car. The Rabbit packs a lot of punch into a practical package; ours has been an absolute blast. It transported us 2000 miles round trip for our wedding, and had ample room for our luggage and gifts (my dress didn’t even get crushed). When we decided we were too relaxed to rent a limo, the Rabbit made a fine matrimonial chariot. And in everyday driving, it moves through traffic swiftly and pulls hard. Indeed, a dyno session even revealed that our particular car puts out 146 whp in stock form, a pleasant surprise considering VW’s official figure of 150 crank hp.

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So why mess with a good thing? Given my addiction to modifying and Wes’ tendency to flip cars, it’s a testament to the Rabbit’s character that we’ve both been satisfied as long as we have. However, we were able to spend some time with VW’s R GTI and Thunder Bunny last summer, and both cars have really influenced our direction. They were conceived and executed as a whole; everything from the stance and the sound of their custom exhaust systems, to the color of the brake calipers and the hand-laid carbon-fiber interior trim, was done specifically to evoke a certain atmosphere and attitude. We were finally able to decide on a tentative course of action, and trucks began to arrive at the VWvortex loading dock. Upcoming installments will describe the work that we’ve done since these photos were taken, and we’re still working on complementing our exterior and suspension modifications with a power boost, interior upgrade, and some custom Thunder Bunny-inspired elements.

Stop by the VWvortex booth at Waterfest to say hi and see Project Turbunnium up close and personal.



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