VW Rabbit Truck

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by a1fa, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. a1fa

    a1fa Throttle Jockey™

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    I like 'em.. What's the negative of owning a 81 diesel rabbit truck? No towing duty.. light carry only... garden stuff.. maybe a motorcycle or two.

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. arkansawyer

    arkansawyer Long timer

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    Slow beyond belief. The bed just barely fit a Husky 175 diagonally.
    I see one in the woods near my house every day and think about fuel mileage. 50ish mpg.
    #2
  3. kobudo28

    kobudo28 Banned

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    They also had a tendancy to crack their body right behind the cab where the bed joins it, right where most of the stress was. Like most early VW dsl. head gaskets can be a problem.
    #3
  4. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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    I know a local farmer with 3. All over 300K one over 500. He says they get almost 60 mpg, probably because he drives slow. The guy is eccentric as hell but mechanical genus. But with all the horsepower of a good riding mower, they are slow. In a rural area, in town, secondary roads, in adv terms speeds appropriate for a Ural, they are fine.

    The same guy has 3 JD 720 diesels. Why, because they are one of the most fuel efficient tractors ever made. Ever.

    He rebuilds stuff forever, and if they quit selling it he makes the part he needs.

    Rod
    #4
  5. a1fa

    a1fa Throttle Jockey™

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    They would sure make a nice city truck.
    #5
  6. CallMeBoog

    CallMeBoog hi functioning idiom

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    I had a 79 and an 81 rabbit - if I'd had my way, I'd still have the 79, but the rear subframe rusted out and it rolled three times going 130 km/h. the 81 was a 4 door, and not as cool. now the Caddie (what VW-heads call the rabbit truck), was always the coolest shit in my eyes. it's basically half a rabbit, and a truck bed, in that it's still front wheel drive. if you ever get to where there is a traction issue, and you have more than a bag of sand in the back, you're stuck as hell.

    Personally, before I put my 16v ottinger in my 79, I would say that the 1.8 SOHC gas is a lot better than the diesel. Fuel injection with no computer - it's not as scary as it sounds, and quite frankly bulletproof. My 81 was diesel, and in my 20 years messing with cars, I've never had a hate on as bad as I did for that diesel. I'm a fan of diesel, but the motor that was in my bunny was so temperamental I'd swear it was bipolar, and it would run great - but only on it's terms.

    Short answer - If I saw a Type 4 Caddie for sale today, and the wife wasn't around, I'd spend my mortgage payment getting it. looks to be clean anyway - plus you can sell the cap for $$$ as they only fit one thing, and it will hamper your efforts to put a bike in the back.
    #6
  7. kobudo28

    kobudo28 Banned

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    #7
  8. kawalaser

    kawalaser Hip to be square

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    but can you put stacks on it?
    #8
  9. marksbonneville

    marksbonneville Been here awhile

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    I put many miles on a 1981, vibrates like hell, gutless, but 45mpg city and 55 highway was the norm. Never had any problems and I used it day in and day out but sold it to get something with more leg room. I never had head gasket issues and worked for a VW dealer at the time and it was not as big a problem as some state it to be but when it happened its not a big deal to fix. I use to tell my friends it was the second slowest vehicle on the road, corvettes driven by grey haired old guys were always slower and getting in my way. :rofl
    #9
  10. andruboz

    andruboz Serial overfiller

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    even in southern california i never saw one that wasn't rusty.
    #10
  11. Hastelloy-X

    Hastelloy-X Been here awhile

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    The VW trucks were rare when new; even moreso now 31 years later.

    My father had 2 Dasher Diesels (same platform) a 1980 and a 1981 with factory air. He really liked them. He made tools for timing the injection pump, and some other stuff.

    If you are a tinkerer, it would be a great mechanical jalopy. If you can find parts.

    If you find one; the pull lever on the dash is for advancing the timing (helps with cold weather starts).

    The engine is an interference engine with a toothed timing belt. The valves are adjusted using shims.

    If you need pistons Mahle made/makes them to 0.040 over size.

    Both of my father's cars had head gasket issues. The head bolts are a use once type.

    Early models under the right conditions would suck engine oil into the combustion chamber from the rebreather thingy. The engine will rev till destruction; if not in gear with your foot on the brake. Later models had the oil breather modified to separate the oil out of the rebreather air tube thingy.

    The electrics on these models are horrible too. For brighter headlights and quicker starts rewire the headlights and glow plugs with a relay to work directly from the battery. The factory wires them thru the main electrical junction for a healthy voltage drop!

    He consistently got 55 mpg with either car.

    Sorry for the novel. :1drink
    #11
  12. Commuter Boy

    Commuter Boy Long timer

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    Pop a 1.6TD or a Canadian spec 1.9TD into them and they're right zippy little haulers.
    #12
  13. jdiaz

    jdiaz .

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    No one believes me.....this is how it happens. You buy one VW, and then you suddenly decide you need more.

    #13
  14. seriousracer

    seriousracer be a man dodge tree bark

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    i am not f***ng stupid,but i used too. niles mi.
    Come here Alfa1 Let me hit you up the side of the head with a 2X4 .. Bring you back to reality...
    :deal






    :lol3

    NAd yes i get it.. why else would i have three mazda 323 gtx's laying around and bidding on a fourth a few weeks back,,,
    #14
  15. fullmonte

    fullmonte Reformed Kneedragger

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    I had a '81 diesel Wabbit when I was in high school. At idle the thing vibrated so bad it killed the internals of the Kenwood tape player I put in it. The car was bulletproof though, through creek crossings, mild jeep trails, countless donuts in gravel parking lots, and lots of daily clutch abuse. My parents took it to the Toyo tire dealer wanting to know if they would honor the mileage warranty on a set of tires that were absolutely smoked at 8k miles.:evil The strut mounted real steel bumpers allowed me to hit things (very large trash cans)with it at speed and give my buddies unsolicited "love taps" at stop lights. Many fond illegal memories from that car. Some old man bought it for the motor to put into his Rabbitruck.
    #15
  16. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder

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    S L O W like really S L O W

    They're also really tight in the cab so if you're 6' or better it's going to be real cramped. I think one with a TDI swap would be really cool.

    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. slackmeyer

    slackmeyer Don't mean sheeit. .

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    A good friend has one that he put a 1.9 td in, he says it's a riot- fast enough at around town speeds, and that's all he uses it for. Plus 45 mpg on biodiesel ($2/gallon from some friends of his).
    #17
  18. Hughlysses

    Hughlysses Long timer

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    IIRC, there are at least a couple of detailed build threads over on www.tdiclub.com on putting modern TDI powertrains in these trucks.

    Another approach to building a "modern" one would be converting a late model TDI wagon to a truck with some bodywork. Hmm....
    #18
  19. HillbillyNinja

    HillbillyNinja Long timer

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    Truth.
    #19
  20. Tip Over

    Tip Over Whoopsie!

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    Slow, little tight in the cab, but they are some sweet trucks.


    My dad had a gas model and it was peppy enough to keep up with the Sirocco with him driving. He said he still averaged near 40 mpg with it.
    #20