Sportruck Stripes: 1980 VW Rabbit Pickup

How cool: an original VW Rabbit pickup “Sportruck”! These were a special edition package meant to give the homely VW pickup some added attitude; think of it as a MK1 GTI with a pickup bed. This example appears to have been bought sight unseen from a Copart auction and the seller has already listed it here on eBay at no reserve. There’s one bid to $500 and a portion of the sale price will benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. 

Like so many other special editions before it, this was merely a dress-up kit. But you don’t see many of these Sportrucks left, especially still wearing its awesome graphics along the side. The VW’s drivetrain was left alone but it came standard with a 5-speed manual. Magazine ads at the time said the Rabbit pickup could hustle to 60 m.p.h. in under 10 seconds! This one has lots of surface rust but it’s not immediately obvious if it goes any deeper than that.

A front chin spoiler was standard, along with the sport steering wheel and center console gauge package. Bucket seats were another part of the Sportruck offering along with unique wheels with trim rings. This example appears to retain all those bits that the MK1 guys go crazy for, and that gauge package alone would bring you a few bucks if you were to find one in the local Pick ‘N Pull. The seller doesn’t elaborate much on condition, but the interior looks decent.

Mechanically, the sellers says it goes forward and backward and that’s all he knows. This is a fairly weak way to sell a car, especially if he’s trying to flip it after buying it from a Copart yard. Still, the bidding is cheap enough and if there’s no actual rot-through, I’ll give him a pass on skimping on the important details about mechanical condition. And if you end up wasting $2K (please don’t do that), at least part of your purchase price will go to help kids in need.


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  1. Fred w.

    A brief description is OK in this price range. It’s when you are looking at a 10K plus car with a two line description and one photo that it gets annoying.

  2. Ken Carney

    I knew a man that owned one of these. He was a regular customer at the
    Taco Bell restaraunt I worked at in the early 2,000’s. And like this truck, his
    was all beat up but the thing still ran great. It had the deisel engine mated
    to a 5-speed stick. He told me that it got outrageous fuel mileage with the
    deisel mill. Since I had a paper route at that time, I tried to buy it from him
    but no dice. He knew a good thing when he bought one!

  3. BarnfindyCollins

    Cool seeing this on here, more people need to know this models history and the plant in Pennsylvania that spawned it.

    • grant

      Well, please share!

  4. Michael

    I delivered flowers for my Uncle in Greenwich, Connecticut in one of the these back in 1980. Not sure if it was the Sporttruck but it was a white Rabbit diesel pickup w/ manual tranny. A blast to drive. Loved it.

  5. Mike

    This was a unique year too for the Rabbit truck since in 1981 they switched to the “Americanized” interior. It doesn’t make it anymore valuable but I much prefer the original interior to the redesigned one all the Westy Rabbits had after 1980.

  6. Kevin Lee


  7. SAM61

    Like it alot! Maybe an engine swap, knock down the rust/cover in rhino lining, freshen/clean interior, cool wheels and drive!

  8. On and On On and On Member

    How much does rust cost per pound anyway?

  9. DaveT

    That tailgate alone is worth $500 up here. If I were looking for a project this would be tempting. I’m going to link this on the vortex and hopefully St Jude’s gets some benefit of the auction!

    Like 1
  10. String-A-Trailer

    I wonder if it’s flood salvage??

  11. Joe Howell

    We had one and ran it until it sadly rusted beyond repair after 21 years and 253xxx miles. These were neat little trucks, the wife loved it because it was small and had a cap to keep stuff dry but was very useful for most home projects. Really heavy hauling and towing called for the Silverado :) It was a diesel, but due to the pickup’s additional aerodynamic drag mileage never topped 39 compared with the cars which broke 50 easily. Too bad VW doesn’t offer something like that now :(

    • Miguel

      They do but not in the US. This is the VW Saviero

      • Miguel

        Or you can have the Saviero Cross

      • Dallas

        Thanks for your posts Miguel. It gives a view of what exists outside the US.

      • Miguel

        I wonder if this would sell in the US, or if it would pass the safety regulations.

  12. Rube Goldberg Member

    I had a neighbor that had one of these, only a diesel. He had to use ether to start it in 70 degree weather. I remember it got outstanding fuel mileage. Like most, it rusted in half.

  13. BOP Guy Member

    I had a buddy in high school that had a Rabbit pickup. He went to a couple Pick n Pulls to get a complete GTI interior and exterior grill, trim, badging etc. So it was a complete red GTI pickup. I thought that was a cool idea 😎

  14. CliffG Member

    I had one of these, a red one with the “Sportruck” decal on the side. It was a seemingly rare gas powered one with a/c that we actually got to work! The body was pretty solid but it had 170k miles when we bought it. A couple of years later the engine did something and lost most of its oil. We filled it up, got it home and donated it for a write-off. If only I had tarped it and stored it…

  15. Maestro1

    I’m all over this. But the price is difficult. I know it’s for charity but I have to be in it acquisition cost in the right place.

  16. Miguel

    The first question to be asked is the status of the registration. It has a clear California title but no plates on the vehicle.

    Also do we think it is 55,000 original miles?

  17. Steven D Visek

    Wow! A whole whopping 1% to charity! Less than $10 at current $960 bid.

    Giving a significant chunk of a sale price to charity is laudable.
    Using a pittance of a donation as a gimmick to promote bidding on your vehicle is not.

    Like 1
  18. chad

    looks like a auto with a….Lima (pinto) motor?
    What IS that? they claim it aint a diesel (I can C that)….

  19. Wayne

    That is the stock VW gas engine. I just bought a diesel one of these from the widow across the street a few months ago. The husband was driving it around the neighborhood a few weeks before his death. I always wanted one of these but never understood why. It is a cool truck with a matching color shell. I will be placing up for sale in a few weeks as soon as I get a chance to clean it up a little and change all the fluids. If anyone is interested. The truck is now in Northern Nevada and came form the San Jose California area. So rot free.

  20. Charlie

    My brother worked as a design engineer for VW of America for about ten years. He helped to design the Rabbit pick-up – I think he spent two years working on the design of the gas tank. (Apparently, a lot more thought has to go into cars and trucks than most of us know.)

    I had a friend who had one of these into the early 2000’s. He loved it and used it all the time. However, in upstate NY, where winters are nasty and salt is used liberally, it was doomed. He had to give it up when one of the front strut mounts rusted through. I suppose it was salvageable if one could find a donor mount to graft in, but that would have been a challenge that he had neither time nor money for.

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