1983 Volkswagen Rabbit 1.6 diesel from North America


Great cheap transportation for the mechanically minded


Inner + outer tie rods.

All 4 shocks (3 had holes in them)

Alternator's regulator failed in the middle of nowhere, WA.

Alternator belt failed multiple times.

Head gasket blew due to alternator belt failure/100 miles with no water.

Replaced rings/shaved warped head due to head gasket failure.

Radiator cap stuck closed, over pressurized coolant system.

Radiator blew a hole due to over pressurized coolant system.

Clutch cable failure in middle of woods.

Replaced shift bushings.

Replaced pressure plate/clutch disk.

Replaced all motor mounts.

#3 injector piping failed, spraying fuel all over engine bay.

Replaced 2X injectors.

Injector pump developed leak where timing advance goes into it. Replaced O-ring seal which fixed the problem.

Interior and tail lights fuse shorting out. Replaced 40A relay named "relay", which I believe carries these loads. Problem solved.

Windshield leaks when it rains up at top.

Backup lights never worked.

General Comments:

Bought this car when I was run off the road by another driver and crashed into a ditch. Originally, which was going to be a replacement car for a while, but I've fallen in love with it. The previous owner claimed that it handled on rails... but I don't know what he was smoking. this car is not about handling in the least bit. Nor is it about speed. Nor braking. Nor acceleration. Really, it's about getting from point A to point B as cheaply as possible.

I've owned the car roughly 4 years (1 of which the car was not driven) and I've put on 70,000+ miles. Soon after buying the car it was converted to vegetable oil, so most of those miles (at least 60,000) have been running veggie oil, used motor oil, ATF or whatever else I feel like putting in the second heated tank. Make no mistake, you'll never be mistaken for a upcoming rapper/footballer/banker (OK... maybe banker in today's world) driving this car and you'll probably never pull up to a club/bar and have people offer you a VIP lounge.

You will, however, go everywhere knowing that you are running one of the cheapest vehicles on the road. Even if you are filling up with diesel instead of getting your fuel for free, it still only costs you somewhere in the neighborhood of $.12 a mile (@ 3.39/gallon) to drive it, which is a bargain. Couple that with the fact that you can get these cars for $500-1000 dollars, and you've got yourself a deal.

Another benefit? If there is ever a EMP blast, you can still drive. Just park on a hill, and put a magnet on the fuel solenoid on the injection pump, and you'll be going in no time. I've run mine for 500 miles with a bad (read: no) alternator, 100 miles with no water pump, 60 miles with little to no oil in the engine, 2000 miles with very little coolant and it keeps going and going. This is one little car that's hard to beat.

My friends all make fun of me, but so what. If you're reading this review, you know what I'm talking about. If you want a car that you can take on roadtrips with your friends... this isn't the one. 48 (more like 40) horsepower isn't getting you anywhere quickly, but if you just need something to go longer distances by yourself, this or a motorcycle are probably the cheapest ways to do it. So grab a pair of earplugs, fire the ol' diesel up (might have to run those glowplugs 2-3 times, or just give up and hook up jumper cables directly to the plugs until the car starts) and hop to it. And be smug when you leave those hybrids in black clouds of beautiful diesel smoke. Suckers!

Total repair cost, however has been less than $700. And that's a Rabbit with 353000 miles. Not bad! It's never left me on the side of the road unable to get home. Either one way or another, you'll be able to drive this thing home if it breaks on you.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd November, 2008

22nd Jun 2009, 12:13

I agree with this post. I bought a new 82 rabbit diesel in 1981 to drive to the Nuclear Weapons plant in Denver Colorado. I drove 150 miles round-trip five days a week and could get 50 + mpg at 60 mph. At 70mph, I got about 48 mpg.

The heads had to be replaced 2 times in five years at VW's expense. I loved the car but my x-wife wanted a Dodge Mini-van... horror story.

I wish I still had the car. I did drive the x and my 2 children to Dallas several times during the 5 years I had it. It was very comfortable, slow take-off but cruised at 65 to 70 nicely.

It is time for all people to buy diesel. It is the quickest way to reduce our need for oil in America and still drive something better than a car fueled by batteries for 40 miles.

1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTi 1.8L from North America


Low and fast


Brake pads were metal to metal, and the rotors were falling off in chunks when I first got the car.

Third gear synchronizer broke while street racing.

Control arm was bent when I got the car.

Clutch cable bracket broke on the firewall.

Valve cover gasket leak.

Shifter bushings and linkage worn (easy and effective repair).

Emergency brake handle snapped off the floor (another racing incident).

General Comments:

The Rabbits are all around awesome cars. Despite the random problems and basic maintenance that has been done, there hasn't been anything wrong with it. Volkswagens are made for two things, to go fast and to be reliable. The car is definitely that, a true Honda eater and great street racer. The GTI's came stock with sway bars and a short gear ratio transmission. It's rare in Canada to see a GTI, but definitely a show stopper.

As the years go by, it is getting harder and harder to salvage parts for these cars, and it's definitely worth selling for parts if you find one. But I would definitely recommend any Volkswagen to anybody that is looking for a import car. Hondas are just too slow, big, bulky and prone to problems. Anything else speaks for itself.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th May, 2007

13th Mar 2008, 06:48

Emergency brake handle snapped off floor (another racing incident)