Tasteful Eco-Rocket – 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Turbo Diesel

As part of the childhood RustyButTrusty fleet, the VW Rabbit has a special place and consequently is featured on a frequent basis. Unfortunately, surviving Rabbits (now between 29 and 38 years old!) are either slammed and bagged with wide 13-inch wheels wearing thin rubber, or they’re rough projects needing plenty of attention. Occasionally you do get a nice original example, or a tastefully modified car. And the latter direction is apparent in our feature car, this 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Turbo Diesel available for $3800 in Pinson, AL. That’s only $400 more than yesterday’s 1983 Mercedes! Wait, what?

1984 Volkswagen Rabbit TDI right front

Surprisingly, turbocharging the 1.6 diesel (presumably sourced from a Mark 2 Jetta) only gave an additional 15 hp/24 lb.-ft. for 68 hp/98 lb.-ft., which seems pretty light duty. However, it had minimally less torque than its gasoline-powered sibling, and with the light weight of this car, it should feel pretty perky. The seller does not mention any modifications to the turbocharging system, so perhaps there is some room for tweaking there. As for the tasteful part of the car, it’s had a nice new metallic red paint job, which looks great on this car, together with the snowflake wheels and otherwise original trim. It seems to have some kind of towing set up affixed to its bumper, so perhaps some of its miles were accumulated behind a motorhome.

1984 Volkswagen Rabbit TDI interior

The interior is said to be all original, and frankly, we’re all lucky not to be looking at a pimptastic plush red interior some Westmoreland Rabbits got. This is the late-production Rabbit dash, which appears to have a larger glovebox than earlier cars. It’s also got a classic GTI steering wheel and a non-standard shift knob, the latter necessary since the car has been upgraded to a 5-speed transmission. That upgrade should also make the car a more pleasant place to be, with more relaxed freeway cruising.

1984 Volkswagen Rabbit TDI engine

Under the hood, you can see a strut bar (also installed in the trunk) and a intake filter cone. Was the cone installed due to fit issues, or for the performance increase you get sucking warm air from the engine compartment? We’ll never know, but it’s worth seeing if you can fit the original airbox or somehow fabricate an air channel to the cone. Also under hood are a new injection pump, glow plugs, timing belt, brake booster and master cylinder, radiator, clutch and pressure plate, and engine and transaxle mounts. Unfortunately, the air conditioning is not currently working.

1984 Volkswagen Rabbit TDI left rear

Perhaps the seller was so blinded by the sun he couldn’t take a photo of the whole car? Snark aside, this car also has vented and drilled front discs, along with new brake calipers, pads, and hoses. It’s also said to have no rust. On the whole, this looks like a nicely modified Rabbit that has potential for further power development.

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One Response to “Tasteful Eco-Rocket – 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Turbo Diesel”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    The cone breather probably makes it much faster, it’s a good thing it has the strut bars.

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