Sunday, March 1, 2015

3k: Dead Tortoise: 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Mk 1 Diesel

I've owned and driven some slow cars in my time.  A W123 Mercedes-Benz 240 diesel with the OM616 inline-4 non-turbo engine was slow, but it felt like being launched from a cannon compared to the Mk 1 Rabbit that I owned a few years later.  The Rabbit couldn't out drag a UPS truck from a stop, but somehow was a surprisingly fun experience.  It was like that time you went to one of those dreaded kids birthday parties and ended up in a game of kid-versus-adult dodge ball.  You didn't expect anything other than a few hours of tedium, but ended up sweaty and bruised.  Find this 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit Mk 1 offered for $2,900 in Almeda, CA via craigslist.  Tip from FuelTruck.

The Volkswagen Golf was introduced in 1974 as a replacement to the 36 year old Beetle (Type 1) and sold like salty pretzels at Oktoberfest, with over 6 million of the front-drive compacts leaving worldwide factories through 2009.  The Rabbit (as it was called in the USA) was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign - noted for his work on the Alfa Giulia Sprint, Ferrari 250 GT, Maserati Bora and Isuzu cetera.

Under the hood of this Rabbit is a 1.6 liter inline-4 cylinder diesel that puts out 54 horsepower.  Keeping up with the normal flow of leisurely weekday noon traffic (little old ladies on the way to the grocery store and distracted teens snap-chatting pics of their frank 'n' beans to friends...etc) requires clutch dumping starts and the throttle pedal can be treated as a binary switch.  Oddly enough it wasn't a penalty box like driving a rental car with a CVT or a Prius...since the 4-speed gearbox and unassisted manual rack-and-pinion steering keeps you busy.

What is going on with that sticker family.  Is that the gimp?  See a slower car for sale?


  1. Sold. These cars are getting collectable and commanding higher and higher prices. Maybe it is because they are sought after by biodiesel folks, diesel nuts, hipsters and VW collectors alike.

  2. True, but the other factor is that as a pre-96 oilbelcher it's smog exempt and the CA DMV doesn't need to know what you put in it.

  3. We had a W123 Mercedes-Benz 240 diesel, and slowly put over 300,000 miles on it until it finally got hit by a tree.
    No really, it got rear ended by a tree while it was parked.
    Anyway, it may not of been fast, but it had a humongous flywheel and if you revved the engine up and dropped the clutch it would accelerate to 10 or 15 miles an hour really quick. Also there's nothing quite as smoky as a 1969 Mercedes-Benz diesel doing a burnout, I'll tell you that.

  4. I would love one of these to take on replacement duty for my Prius appliance. Maybe it wouldn't be as emasculating an experience driving to work.

    1. You didn't just say you drive a Prius. Oh, no no no no no.



Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.