1981 Volkswagen Rabbit LX 1.6 from North America


Fun to drive, good mileage!


Car worked great, ran great with platinum sparkplugs and Castrol GTX 20-50.

General Comments:

Fun to drive, liked to go fast, no repairs in 120,000 miles. Traded it in on Toyota PU. Still miss my Rabbit.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th July, 2009

20th Jul 2012, 14:50

The 1.6L doesn't have spark plugs.

16th Jul 2015, 00:49

The 1.6L gas engine does have plugs.

20th Jul 2017, 00:20

No the 1.6L does not have plugs... It is an I4 DIESEL which has glow plugs not spark plugs... You must be talking about the 1.7L gas I4. There is a big difference.

15th May 2020, 21:03

Well, the 1,6l gas uses spark plugs. No comment on that.

16th May 2020, 22:07

They didn't have the 1.6 gas engine in the US.

1981 Volkswagen Rabbit LX 1.6L from North America


Overall the car is fun to drive, and cheap to own


The fuse box on these was a problem from the beginning.

Windshield leaks developed at the bottom on the drivers side. Water runs down and over the fuse panel. This corrodes the connections, rusts some parts out. The end result is various devices, stop and start working for no real reason. Most of the time it is the lighting that fails.

General Comments:

The 1.6L gasoline engine was just too small.

Mileage is another issue with the 1.6L engine.

In town on flat land you can squeeze out about 30 MPG.

HWY is more like 20 MPG.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th May, 2009

1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Model L 1.5 diesel from North America


Best car I ever invested in


Valve cover always leaks oil. Water bypass hose was a bad design on the side of the head; oil tends to leak down on the hose and soften it, and it starts to leak after period of time.

Head liner fell down in 1995, and was fully removed.

Paint held up good, but clear coat came off in 1991 in a ice storm and cold weather, when I lived in Idaho.

Door handles broken several times, front window leaked on fuse panel, replaced fuse panel.

Replaced glow plugs after a short occurred.

General Comments:

Very good fuel mileage. 45-50 mpg.

I own 4 of these Rabbits.

Very reliable.

Motor still running after 499,858 miles, but the engine is ready for a rebuild

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th January, 2005

1981 Volkswagen Rabbit L 1.7 diesel from North America


Best car ever made


Headline has become unglued.

Manual transmission became difficult to shift into 1st. Replaced it at 296,000 km.

Not a lot of power going up hill.

General Comments:

This car has been the best bang for my buck.

Still pretty peppy after 23 years old.

You can't beat the mileage.

If i could go back to 1981, I'd buy this car all over again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th December, 2003

1981 Volkswagen Rabbit L 1.6L diesel from North America


Most excellent economical long-lasting car


Replace brake vacuum pump diaphragm every 60,000 miles.

Front vent window hinges broke loose (you have to tape or caulk the windows shut).

Replace front tires every 2 years and re-align front end. Alignment seems to be chronically toed-out.

Headliner came unglued from cardboard (re-attach it with pins).

Hood latch is wearing out.

There is an oil leak, probably from the head gasket, engine front; about 1 quart every 1000 miles.

General Comments:

Very reliable and inexpensive car. It has lots of interior room. I can fit my entire bicycle, with front wheel off, inside the trunk with the back seat down.

Car has very little power, which affects climbing hills or heading into a stiff headwind. It saves a fortune on speeding tickets, though.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th June, 2003

1981 Volkswagen Rabbit L 1.7 Fuel Injected from Germany


Great 'around town' car


Steering rack replacement.

All hoses in engine replaced.


Heater Core.

New tires.


Ignition switch, twice.

Muffler replaced.

Headlight had water in it, needed to be drilled to drain.

Roof leaks at roof locks. Heavy rain causes 2 inch pool on car floor.

Trunk leaks, water gets stored in the hatch, when opened, it spills out.

New paint, a bit of rust.

Had front quarter panels re-welded to body as they were unattached at the seam.

Rear window defrost, only 3 lines work.

Speedometer cable replaced, was ticking when driving.

Horn stopped working at 155,000.

Driver seat recline/decline knob broke, never replaced too expensive for what it's worth.

Turn signal assembly needed to be replaced.

General Comments:

For a 1981 vehicle, this car has a lot of pep.

The interior is in great shape, only one little rip in the driver seat.

Having really good rubber on the rims makes a huge difference.

Only 3 or 4 quarter sized rust patches.

Rear folding seat makes for more cargo space than you'd expect from a little convertible.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th November, 2002