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Junkyard Gem: 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit L 4-door hatchback

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Volkswagen of America began selling the Mk1 Golf (badged as the Rabbit here) in the United States as a 1975 model, which was good timing so soon after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. The VW plant in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, began building Rabbits in 1978, and the Mk1 generation stayed on sale here through the 1984 model year. Here’s one of those final-year Mk1s, a four-door found in a Phoenix car graveyard.

The Rabbit Convertible stayed on the Mk1 Golf chassis here all the way through 1993, though its name changed to the Golf Cabriolet for the 1985 model year. South Africa was the final place that the Mk1 was available new, with sales continuing all the way through 2009.

This one is a gasoline-burner with the base-grade L trim level. 

The engine is a 1.7-liter SOHC straight-four with fuel injection, rated at 74 horsepower and 90 pound-feet. A 65-horse carbureted version of this engine was available outside of California, paired with a four-speed manual transmission. Rabbit shoppers could also get a 52-horse diesel engine for 1984.

The fuel-injected 1984 Rabbit L four-door came with a five-speed manual as standard equipment, and it had an MSRP of $7,075 versus the carbureted four-speed car’s list price of $6,740 (that’s about $21,370 and $20,358 in 2023 dollars). Today’s Junkyard Gem has the optional three-speed automatic, which tacked on another 200 bucks to the price tag ($604 of today’s bucks).

This car’s odometer showed just 118,634 miles at the end. Remember to use the handbrake!

The driver’s seat was patched with upholstery tape.

There’s a sealed head gasket set sitting on the passenger seat, so we can assume that this car came to this place because the blown head gasket never got replaced. Which is a shame, because it’s not a particularly difficult job for these cars (as such things go). Maybe the block or head was cracked, anyway.

This being an Arizona car, it has air conditioning. That was a $650 option ($1,963 in today’s money).

For 1985, this car’s successor finally adopted the Golf name in the United States. The Rabbit name came back for 2006-2009, then got the axe again. Meanwhile, it took until 1990 for the Passat name to take over; first there was the Dasher, followed by the Quantum.

Those brutes in Westmoreland let some Rabbits die, so that yours can live longer.

 



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