$1,500 Diesel Bunny: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit L

080416 Barn Finds - 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit - 1

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This would be a great commuter car, it’s a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit L and it’s a diesel. It’s in West Palm Beach, Florida and is listed on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $1,500.

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My best friend had one of these for years and he put a couple of hundred thousand+ miles on it driving 40 miles each way to work. It was rusty and a few things were crusty and broken, like on this one, but it was drop-dead reliable, it always started winter or summer, and it got about 50 mpg!

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This Royal Red car would have seemed like a Rolls-Royce compared to the one my friend had, it’s in a lot nicer shape. The seller mentions rust and former bodywork which can be seen in a few of the photos, and there’s a crease in the driver’s door, and some other ills and woes, but this most likely isn’t a car that anyone would restore, they’d just use it. It would be great to have a reliable car that got great mpg and you wouldn’t have to worry about door dings or anything like that. The seller talks about the trailer hitch seen here: “It has a trailer hitch, and heavy duty rear springs to accommodate pulling a small teardrop camping trailer which it did, all over the U.S. in a past life.” Cool.

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As you expected, the interior isn’t perfect. This car does have AC but it’s only barely blowing cold so that’ll have to be addressed if you live in the same sort of climate as Florida where the car is now. You can see the sun damage on the interior, but I would just clean it up, put seat covers on it and drive the heck out of it. The seller says that the “windows are very hard to roll down. I’d guess the regulators need to be cleaned and greased.” Also, all “of the lights and turn signals work, with the exception of the dash and reverse lights.”

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This is Volkswagen’s 1.6L diesel engine and in 1981 it was upgraded to 52 hp compared to 48 hp previously. The seller says that this car “runs, drives, steers, stops, and shifts great. Starts right up on the first crank. Cruises at 70 on the highway. Steering and suspension feels nice and tight.” This isn’t a show car or a muscle car, it’s one that you’d drive and not worry about it getting dinged like you do with your “nice” cars. Are there any fans of the VW MkI diesel Rabbit out there?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Pookie Jamie P

    Viewed on eBay… Needs alot of work but I’d be a buyer at $300. High mileage and needs tender TLC. What yall think?

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  2. Rich

    Probably a 700.00 car at most. But I love it. I’d have to fix it up a little though. Those dents and rips drive me insane.

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  3. Mike

    Those little diesel engines are nearly bullet proof, a family friend had one of these he bought brand new in 81 when he went to work for Emerson Electric in St Louis, he drove 78 miles 1 way for so many years in his Rabbit and that little car got nearly 55 miles to the gal, Paul drove that car for 25 years before replacing it with a used 98 Jetta, also with a diesel, he gave the rabbit to his step-son who put a rebuilt engine in it and drove for a few years until the poor old rabbit just could not go anymore, that and the body was pretty much gone, Missouri road salt pretty much turned it into Swiss cheese. But Paul always said he got his money for it 10 fold. Paul is currently drives a 2014 Bug with a 2.0l diesel in it and he loves it, but he will tell you he likes the Bug but wishes he had the Rabbit back.

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  4. Chebby

    Polish up the sides and make a tartan plaid pattern for the hood and roof!

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  5. Jon

    The longest trip of my life was 0 – 60mph in a Diesel Rabbit.

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  6. GeorgeMember

    It’s not a classic, it’s in crummy shape, and with regular at $2.07 around South Florida, he’s asking way too much money.

    A Caddy might bring more, but this is a crust bucket.

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  7. Pookie Jamie P

    He paid 1140.00 for it a month ago…. This is highway robbery…. I’d still be a buyer at 300. So far no hits on the auction bids…

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  8. ScottyAuthor

    Auction update: this vehicle sold for $1,500!

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  9. Jamey G.

    It’s my car, I still have it. I did pay $1140 for it and want to get my money back out of it. Its cool, but things happen and I don’t have time for it. EBay bidder flaked and never paid.

    Like 0

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