Ratty Rescue: Rough Rabbit

It’s time once again for a VWVortex member to pick up a pile of past performance and return it to the road. This week’s car is a very green 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel.

This little hatch hails from a time when oil-burners had a completely different stigma than they do now. Today when we think of diesel engines we think not only of increased mileage, but of increased (and hidden) pollutants. Back in the 80’s, diesel cars were similarly known for sipping fuel, but they were also known for being, well, slow. Fuel efficiency came with a steep performance price; 0 – 60 times were measured almost by minutes, not seconds.

For someone looking for a sensible project car, this one is just about perfect. To start, it’s a complete car. No searching for parts, no additional cash needed for missing bits and pieces. Some mechanical updates and you’ve got a solid driver on your hands. The owner believes with a new battery and fresh fuel the car should have no trouble running. Of course, all sellers with cars that have been in storage for 15 years, as this one has been, state something similar.


Inside, the car is dirty, but again, complete. The seats, dash, and headliner all appear to be in very good condition. Outside, the car has some dents, dings, and surface rust, but no major body work is needed. The striking Mountain Green paint appears faded, but a buff and polish could bring it back. And the caramel interior and minty green exterior complement each other very well.

While this rough-around-the-edges Rabbit needs some attention, it could be up and running in a few weekends. It’s fun to imagine the direction you could take the car in: restore it to new condition, fix it up a bit and drive as is, or, and this would be what I would do, clean it up, lower it, and get it on some nice wheels. But to each their own.

This mint-green Rabbit is located in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The current asking price is $2,500 and you can view the ad on The Samba.