Under the Porch Find: VW Rabbit Discovery

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This is one of the weirdest finds we’ve seen yet, as an early 1980s VW Rabbit was apparently buried under a front porch in New Jersey and recently exhumed for a mechanical restoration. Details are limited as to the hows and whys of the burial, but the Rabbit is impressively solid despite being buried up the the beltline trim on the doors. Find all of the photos of the extraction here on the Watacooled Facebook page

The Rabbit is a U.S.-built example from the rolling hills of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, and left the factory as a diesel-equipped model. At some point, that engine and fuel system was swapped out for a gasoline assembly, and the new owners have been working hard to bring it back to operating condition. The full gallery of photos show a musty, moldy interior that amazingly cleaned up pretty well, just like the exterior.

One of the common areas of corrosion for VW Rabbits is in the rear edges of the back quarter panels and the apron under the tailgate; amazingly, this one is rust-free. Overall, the body presents incredibly well for a car that was literally buried under a house. Seeing the bordello red interior come back to life is a testament to the new owners’ detailing abilities. I do wonder if it wasn’t buried all that long, as those New Jersey plates are still the current state design.

If it was wearing the old-school blue plates, then we’d know the Rabbit had been parked for decades. However, it might also be a pile of rust fragments at this point if it had been parked for that long. We’d love to know the details behind why the Rabbit was buried in the first place and how the new owners caught wind of it, so if you know any more of the background behind this fascinating find, let us know in the comments below.

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  1. 71_LT1

    I’ve found a few rabbits under the porch over the years, but they are the type that raid the vegetable garden at night. This is an incredible find, and I’m glad someone is bringing it back to life. GOOD LUCK !

    Like 31
    • glen

      Hasenpfeffer anyone?

      Like 14
  2. HoA Howard AMember

    Jersey, you say? Hiding it from someone.

    Like 27
  3. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    Nice pic of the guy at the gate, busted! LOL.

    Like 12
    • Ike Onick

      Great minds think alike! I was wondering what the guy has against VW’s. Maybe he is an ex- emissions tester.

      Like 6
    • Danno

      Haha, most guys just have a picture of Calvin in their back windows…

      Like 3
    • Rspcharger Rspcharger

      He found it first, just marking his territory

      Like 5
    • CanuckCarGuy

      Maybe he thought it was a clean diesel….he was getting ready to fill up the def tank.

      Like 3
  4. Cncbny

    I think I’d run that vin through the local authorities, and have it dusted for prints…just sayin.

    Like 24
  5. angryjonny

    I think they found Jimmy Hoffa’s ride.

    Like 11
  6. flmikey

    …could of been hiding it from the repo man…

    Like 10
  7. Ike Onick

    Don’t alarmed by the string smell of urine. It will probably clean up OK.

    Like 5
  8. Scott Marquis

    If you’re going to pen in a Wabbit, best to do so with plenty of lattice.

    Like 49
    • Dean

      You win the internets , as they say

      Like 5
  9. Mike H. Mike H.

    I once owned that car’s twin, right down to the interior. Previous owner said the sunroof leaked and it had an inch of standing water in it. Turned out to be the cowl drains were blocked and the rainwater ran in through the heater box. Quick work with a screwdriver to clean the drains and a weekend’s worth of interior cleaning (tore it all out and power washed the carpets) yielded me a mighty fine little car.

    Like 12
  10. Andy

    Seems like stashing a Rabbit under the porch is almost the only way to have one that runs in 2019, especially on gasoline. When you look at the competition when this car first came out, it was way ahead of its time: Giugiaro design (still maybe the best proportioned hatchback ever), reasonable space efficiency, decent get-up-and-go for the ’70s, and felt much better put together than what we were used to up till then–at least for the first few years. But bitter experience taught me not to count on VWs, and now Rabbits are scarcer than hens’ teeth.

    Like 5
    • Dave

      The last time I saw a Rabbit I shook my head and wondered how my wife, infant son, and I managed to have a 1982 tudor gas 4speed Rabbit as our “good car” until we bought a new Caravan in 1988. After that it was “Dad’s car”, and it survived the next six years as a field service technician’s ride. It never had a spot of rust on it, the odometer froze at 125,000, and I never replaced the timing belt. It was a well made, tough little car with real bumpers.

      Like 5
  11. Zach

    Always lead with a picture of a guy peeing in a corner!

    Like 14
  12. Kenneth Carney

    Gotta agree with flmikey. Chances are
    this car was probably on someone’s
    repo list and the original owner walled it
    up under the porch to hide it. Over time,
    that owner moved away and this is what
    we’re left with–a near-perfect car with
    one hell of a story behind it. Mike, did
    you get the info on my neighbor’s two
    Caddys? If you didn’t, I can send them
    again. BTW, tune into Svengoolie on
    Saturday night for The Creature From
    The Black Lagoon. To say that this a
    weird find is truly an understatement.

    Like 6
    • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

      Ya, great stuff Ken! Thinking hard!

      Like 3
  13. Ensign Pulver

    My 1993 Ford Aerostar had the NJ plate BE-xxxxx registered in Aug 92. A few years later NJ went to the 3-3 alphanumeric characters. I deduce, assume, and pontificate..ipso fatso (Archie Bunker) ..that this vehicle was last registered (re-registered??) in late 93 or early 94.

    Like 1
  14. Ike Onick

    The strangest thing to me is who the hell is taking the pictures of the guy lurking around the car? The lead image is the best ever posted on Barn Finds.

    Like 4
    • Sarah Grace Long

      I took them

      Like 1
  15. Rodney - GSM

    Hey, who leaked these photos…?

    Like 17
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever


      I saw what you did there… LOL

      Like 7
  16. Javboy

    Nj resident and license plate nerd here… the plate in the pics YJ-958E would have been issued probably late 98 or early 99…

    Like 6
  17. Brian Ach

    “rust free”


    Like 1
  18. moosie Craig M Bryda

    On the windshield is an inspection sticker that shows Oct. 2000.

    Like 1
  19. Wayne

    I know that the square concrete ( with wood centers ) piers/islands are for deck supports. (Deck piers?). What would you call a VW porch support? A Rabbit Beam? A Wabbit Truss?
    Or do they have Rabbit Cripts in New Jersey that are sided with lattice?
    Or was this a Rabbit that was incaserated and fed lettuce
    Until it was liberated from the lattice?
    Sorry, I will go back to my cage now.

    Like 1
  20. Paul

    Ensign Pulver your plates were the beginning the of the 2 letter before the NJ symbol in 1992 (Ax were Apportioned for example for dump trucks not for passenger cars). YJ was near the end so they are from 1998. The two letter plate sequence ended at ZY in 1999 (no ZZ for automobile). In 1999 NJ picked up with JAA-10A since the blue plates ended in 1992 with HZZ-99Z. NJ has not used the letter I in plates since the blue plates.

    Like 2
    • Ensign Pulver

      Now that’s impressive !

      Like 2
  21. Sarah Grace Long

    This is my car in a joint project with Watacooled, who was the inital discoveries of the vehicle. We did the extraction together along with my 4 year old son who had a blast. Feel free to reach out with any questions.

    Like 1
  22. Ross

    “Squirreled Away Rabbit”
    Hiding it from the wife!

    Like 0
  23. Russell S.

    This car just went up for sale on FB marketplace for a good price…

    Has vinyl graphics on the back that say “porch find” now… still located in Northwest NJ, local to me.

    Like 0

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