The VW Rabbit was a significant car, both for VW and for the industry. While it wasn’t a groundbreaking car – others lead the charge in the market, like the Autobianchi Primula or the Mini – it did throw more momentum behind the front-wheel-drive compact hatch market than ever before. And at this point, most major manufacturers, including some like Mercedes, from whom you’d never have expected it, all have a compact hatch in their lineup. They also put momentum into the hot hatch field. So let’s take a look back at a neat interpretation of this influential car, this 1979 VW Rabbit for sale for $3400 in Oregon City, OR.
This car really has many great details, among them the bright yellow paint, oh-so-seventies rocker strips with Rabbit in a whimsical font, and period ATS Cup wheels. Other custom touches include European-market bumpers and deleted wipers. Photos don’t appear to show any rust at all, and while the interior is not shown, it’s said to be sound deadened and to be the perfect project car in the same sentence, so there’s probably some remaining needs in there.
The engine is a 2-liter ABA from a later Golf or Jetta that should have right around 115hp, or nearly double what the original engine had, and is said to only have 50,000 miles on it. It’s obviously got some Moroso part on it, and there’s a nice big sticker in case you forget, but it’s not clear what the part is from the listing text. However, the car is said to have a Flowmaster exhaust, 288-degree race cam, a stage 3 head, and a strut tower bar (not visible in this pic, so perhaps it’s older). Extra parts include 2 Kamei wing spoilers, throttle bodies, flow plates, and fuel injection lines. On the down side, the second gear synchro is said to be “not totally healthy”, but the car apparently still shifts well – you might want to have the seller take you out for a ride so you can see how the car’s been driven by him.
While the side markers have been deleted, the bumpers Euro-fied, and the car lowered on H&R coilovers, the tip-off to its Westmoreland origins lies in the square sealed-beam lights. While those aren’t prized by the Euro-yo crowd, there’s an argument for square headlights being more consistent with the design of such a boxy car. Unfortunately, there are no rear or interior shots, but other images in the listing show the car with front seats, dash, and door panels, but missing its rear carpet, bench, and trunk cover. This last picture shows the car with wipers, and to be fair, this isn’t in Southern California where you can pull off the wiper delete without much penalty. Another shot shows the car with a display of every VW model badge the seller pocketed on monthly visits to the local Pick ‘n’ Pull, plus some other miscellaneous bits. However, assuming the photos accurately indicate the condition of the car, this looks like a fun little box with a trusty and powerful engine that you can drive while making improvements along the way.