Sunday, March 6, 2016

Choose A Volkswagen Bunny: '83 Rabbit vs. '89 Cabriolet G60

This next feature comes as words and a tip from Scott T:

OK, so our first contender is this solid roofed rabbit that someone has mounted a 1.8t motor into and started wiring it up and got far enough to try turning the key and getting no joy. Pictures show it partially assembled, the most recent of which may show a few tubs of parts. Entry price is only 3k, so, you could probably part it out for about that if you can't get it running. Body looks solid from above, and someone extended the shock they're definitely solid if they were done right.

It looks like it's missing the rain tray, I know in my car the rain tray seemed to only drop all the water on the passenger side of the engine compartment anyway. At least till it gets clogged and dumps it all into the passenger footwells.

Find this 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit 1.8T project here on vwvortex forums offered for $2,198.30. The next contender is newer drop top bunny, and has a more common/easier swap to a G60 setup.

No pictures of said g-lader are included, but the seller seems motivated to move it and it sounds like it moves and drives already. The top looks like it's in good condition, I'm guessing the seller must have replaced it and is super proud that it's solid. Find this 1989 Volkswagen Rabbit Cabriolet offered for $3,000 in Boston, MA via craigslist.

So which one would you pick? The, promising turbo GTI, which if you ever get it running should run like stink, or the G60, that [is] claimed to currently run, but will probably require lots of care and feeding to remain mobile with the G60 if you plan on really driving the thing.

I had a normally aspirated cabriolet with some minor tweaks, and it can be a fun car to drive, someday I would love to get another one.

DT: Big thanks to Scott for sending in the tips and words/insight/commentary.


  1. This is a tough one, but I think I'd have to go with neither. Here's why...

    The GTI has too many unanswered questions as to where the problem(s) could be lurking. Red flags to me are that this is the third motor swap he's done and even though this is a major project and he hopefully knows what he's doing, he's decided to just walk away from it as it sits. There are a lot of VW guys who know what they're doing with swaps, but there are probably twice as many who don't and do a very hack job. Can't determine the case with this car. But my gut tells me that there are layers to this onion.

    The Cabriolet is a little less scary, but still needs some explaining. The ad doesn't say when the swap was completed or if the car actually runs right now. How long was it in storage? Hopefully the answers are that it was built at the end of last summer and he had to put it away for the winter snow months. Also, I question how "mint" this one is. I don't see "mint" in the photos. And if the motor is the big selling point, why no photos of it?

    As an owner of a 1984 GTI, I can attest to the Mark I being an excellent toy to upgrade. My personal car had a sizeable performance overhaul and rebuild back in the day and is now running a punched out 1.8L 8V (now a 2.0L displacement) plus an improved intake and exhaust, as well as a ton of suspension and handling upgrades. I got lucky and found a car someone else had put tons of money into so I didn't have to. These cars are small and light and don't need a huge power boost to be enjoyable. I think the smart move with a Mark I is to start with suspension and handling, then move on to the power.

    Instead of a modern swap like one of these, I'd opt for hot rodding the existing equipment (like mine has). Less hassle and likely less headache. Plus as a California resident, much easier to get through smog testing.

    One final note... The Cabriolet popped up on Rusty But Trusty two weeks ago and, although I have no problem with the overlap, I want to give a nod to RBT for posting it first.

  2. Oh that's my submision! Sadly, I'm choosing neither too, but realistically I'd have to pick the droptop even though I really want the 1.8t. If I did pick it up in theory, I'd drive it till the G60 quit, then drop at 2.0 into it.

  3. VW guys sure love their roof racks and props to attach to them.

    1. I agree. Forget the car, I want the gokart.


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