Forum Friday: How Electrical Gremlins Can Turn a Deal into a Nightmare

Sometimes, when you get your dream car, it needs a little work — but that’s part of the fun! Here’s one such story, as told by Isaac — or isakitow, as he’s known on the VWvortex forum where he told his tale. Isaac always wanted a Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible, and he finally found one back in June of 2014. He nabbed the car, a 1982 model with some modifications done to it, for just $700. Isakitow says it was love at first sight, but he also knew he had some work to do.

When he picked up the car, it was running, but roughly. He drove it home and cleaned it up with some soap and water. The next day, Isaac posted an unfortunate update — the car had stopped running. Trying to diagnose the problem, he discovered that the ignition system had been bypassed with audio, duplex and other wires and looked like a “complete mess.” This issue led to the ignition switch becoming burnt along the wires.

“… I’m lucky it didn’t catch fire when I drove it,” Isaac wrote, noting that he’d have to take apart the dash to get into the fuse box and get rid of all the problematic splicing.

Fixing the Problem

He ordered some parts, replaced several terminals, re-routed some wires, re-checked the ignition switch, did some other work and reported getting a steady, strong spark. The car started up but then died again. After checking the fuel relay, he realized it was faulty and tried to solder it. He then checked the multimeter and noticed that the coil in the relay was infinite resistance. After trying to operate it manually, he jumped the fuel pump and heard the sound of life in the car. He then ordered the relay he needed.

At this point, another forum user called flying_oliver noted that the vehicle looked more like a ’92 than an ’82. He suggested using a VIN decoder to verify the year. Another user, mk1scott, concurred with flying_oliver and commented that it looked more like a Cabriolet than a Rabbit Convertible.

So, Isaac checked the VIN and found that his car was, in fact, a genuine ’82 that had gotten a “facelift.” He also reported that he’d gotten the car running again — although it was still running a little rough — and said he planned to adjust the timing and get a fresh set of filters. Good news all around!

“Nice facelift. Someone did a lot of work to that car,” user twin2turbo87 commented. Blade3562, however, noted that it probably wasn’t a lot of work if the body was straight — just a body kit grill and painting. The roof also needed some repair, and some solution applied to prevent it from molding.

After that, the forum was quiet for a while, but isakitow reappeared in June of 2015 with an update. “After a lot of time collecting dust, I started back to work in the cabby,” he wrote. He noted that he had a long list of things to check and fix up before A1Classic in St. Augustine. That list included painting the fan shroud, doing some cleaning in the rad support and treating some rust. Next, he said, he might work on the battery tray and the wiring for the headlights and markers.

That’s the end of the thread, but there’s a good chance isakitow continued to work on the Rabbit. Maybe he’ll even post another update. The title of this thread is, after all, “1982 Convertible, might be the slowest build ever.”