1978 Volkswagen Rabbit L 1.6 diesel from North America


It was the best car I ever owned


No faults - just ran and got 47 mpg.

General Comments:

Sold the car in 1980 for $2100 more than I paid on the original sticker.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th June, 2006

1978 Volkswagen Rabbit 1.5 diesel from North America


Sustainable, organic, efficient, peaceful, peppy and agile


The Bosch mechanical fuel injection pump had to be replaced, because it was leaking fuel on the timing belt. It cost 300$ to get a new one.

My brakes hardly work.

My steering is very stiff and heavy.

General Comments:

In general Volkswagen has engineered the best cars one the road, and this is another one for me.

Volkswagen diesels are the most efficient cars ever made. Mine only gets 40 mpg because it has a 4 speed, but with a 5 speed, these things are supposed to go 48 mpg in the city, and 56 on the open road.

I'm really impressed with the motor, and am sure it must be one of the best diesel motors ever made. It's probably the highest revving diesel you can get.

It's a 1472cc indirect injection diesel. It achieves 48hp at 5000 rpms, and 56 pounds of torque at 2500 rpms. It red lines at 5500 rpms.

This engine produces about 40 pounds of torque at idle. I don't touch the gas when starting. I just let the clutch out, engage, and tap the gas and shift into second.

Diesels are much stronger and harder working than petrol engines. They're also really fast on the open road. I mean my little Rabbit blows everybody out of the water on the open road.

Gas engines gain power as they go faster, diesel engine have very constant power. My engine pulls as hard at 1000rpm as it does at 5000, and revving the engine or lugging it doesn't really affect the performance. My car accelerates just as fast 20 to 45mph as it does 55 to 75mph.

On top of that, the car has a very refined suspension system. It is the smoothest car I've ever driven, and yet it is among the most nimble as well. I love how the car fly's over the bumps on the freeway. The body is very stiff, so the small fast hits, don't bother it much.

The harder I push the car in turns, the more tenaciously it handles. It's very forgiving, and it communicates very well. I mean with this car I can control the slide, I hear the tires slowly start screeching, as the car starts to handle, and then the car really turns in, and I hit the gas and it hooks up and flies out of the corner, which is really quite unique.

Most front wheel drive cars corner best under deceleration, but this car like to corner under throttle.

It's very light (1800 pounds). It's really great off road in slippery conditions.

By far the greatest aspect of this car is that it runs on straight vegetable oil. I purchased a conversion from Elsbett. I have a bunch of restaurants that like to give me their used cooking oil, and I suck it out of their dumpsters, pass it through a 1 micron bag filter and put it in the tank. When I start the car up, first there is a 160 watt electric heater that clamps onto the fuel filter. I modified the injectors and put in more powerful glow plugs. I turn the key and the car starts up on vegetable oil. I have to give it a bit of gas as it starts a little harder than a petroleum diesel does in the cold. After about a minute or two, the engine coolant hits 130 degrees Fahrenheit and the electric heater shuts off, then the engine coolant heats the vegetable oil.

So anyway, it works just like a normal car, besides the fuel chain is a lot more efficient. It's organic, sustainable, zero emission, does not involve terrorism, and is completely free.

This car saves me about 6 bucks a day on fuel, but more now that I drive as much as I please.

The engine is very reliable; I just have to make sure the fuel is well filtered so the fuel filters don't clog.

These cars also last a long time. Most Volkswagens are 40 or more years old. I miss the original rear engine air cooled Porsche design, but they made a lot of improvements when they went to the front engine watercooled design. Namely reliability, and diesel engines. But yeah, if you're looking for a diesel car, this is one of the best.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th May, 2005

9th May 2005, 21:00

Yeah, my dad had a diesel Rabbit 4spd, '80 or '81 I think it was.. went forever and ever, good reliability, but no fun on long commutes.

26th Oct 2005, 15:44

I had an 80 diesel, best car on the planet.

Only problem was the alternator and mount- mount would crack constantly from the violent vibrations of the motor, and the wires used on the alternator were too small to consistantly recharge the battery.

A propane injection systen boosted economy to 52 mpg.

Best car on the planet.