1990 VSE Jackrabbit Project

Volkswagen-based kit cars are a dime a dozen…Volkswagen Beetle-based kit cars, that is. But when famed ex-GM engineer and racer Herb Adams attempted to update the kit car formula for the 1990s, he also updated the VW underpinnings to the more modern—and far more powerful—front-drive Rabbit; hence the Jackrabbit! Despite those solid bones and neat mini-supercar looks, only 25 Jackrabbits hopped into the world, so if you’re intrigued by this one, you’d better hop on it! It’s here on eBay out of Easthampton, Massachusetts, and nobody’s hopped on the $3,500 opening bid yet.

Our own Scotty G. shared another Jackrabbit with us last year, and found several great links relating the history of this sadly stillborn little speedster. That one was a little more put together; the seller of this one avers that the “kit seems complete” although they estimate it is only about 80% assembled. The taillights are recognizably Rabbit, although the bobbed tail itself calls to mind a Honda CRX or the contemporaneous M100 Lotus Elan. Not installed, but hopefully not missing, are the hood with its distinctively centered headlights and the unbelievably-cool-for-a-kit-car billionaire doors.

The nice thing about older VW Golfs and Rabbits is the high degree of interchangeability, and the builder of this kit seems to have taken advantage by upgrading to the 1.8-liter, 16 valve four from a later Mk. 2 GTI. Good for 137 horsepower when new, this claimed 20,000-mile mill should be plenty potent in this super lightweight car.

Other obvious VW parts bin pieces include the 13 inch Audi 80/4000 alloy wheels and the neat Mk. 1 GTI steering wheel. All of these parts hang off of a custom designed tubular steel backbone frame, which looks perfectly sound—as befits a car that has likely never seen the road and which is claimed to have always been in indoor storage.

There’s plenty to do to finish this kit—a process that the included original instruction manual estimates will take 100 hours, including paint—assuming that all of the required bits and pieces are present or can be sourced. The molded-in seats look none too comfy without their pads, and the exposed wiring in the big holes in the dash is a bit daunting, but by all accounts, these were well-designed kits with some neat, original design touches and sprightly VW mechanicals. If it’s as complete as advertised, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if an enterprising new owner couldn’t pull this Jackrabbit out of his or her hat!

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  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Interesting car, whose styling is vaguely reminiscent of a Reliant SS1 mixed with early Toyota MR2.

    I wonder if the lack of a title is going to be an issue for the buyer?

    I’ve been a fan of Herb Adams since the ‘Grey Ghost’ days…

  2. JoeT

    Don’t believe it is a 16V head looks like an 8V to me.

  3. Allen

    My wife saw the subject and for the first time in 30 years she got excited about a project. Ha! Burst her bubble!!!

  4. Rick

    Got one of these kits, in far better shape than this one. This particular car has the 8v engine, not the 16v which has the distinctive intake manifold. I see the doors inside the car, hopefully the hood is there as well. Parts are unobtainium..

    I picked up my car locally from a guy who knows Adams and actually raced against him in the car. And, I spent far less for mine in running condition… seller here is a bit optimistic.

  5. Darrun

    There’s a much more complete one on Ebay, with an unmet No Reserve opening bid of $3600.

  6. Jeff

    Sorry, I don’t see anything desirable in this one. I’d much prefer having a Mk II GTI, and even then, not so much.

  7. Farhvergnugen

    Looks more like Herb Tarlek than Herb Adams.

  8. Wrong Way Member

    Nathan it says 2500 for the opening bid not 3500! Anyways this would be a fun project! :-)

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