Sunday, October 5, 2008

1981 VW Rabbit

My '81 Volkswagen Rabbit was not only the biggest hunk of junk that I ever owned but also my most beloved Subclassic. I found it on a dealer's back lot in a little town north of Chicago. Not all cylinders fired but the compression checked out even though low. The shifter linkage was disconnected and the car was "not drivable" and had been sitting for several years. I bought it for $250, went home walked back carrying a battery, put it in, popped the linkage together and drove home... just barely.

I put a new clutch in it, dropping the transmission out on to my chest (which I intended to do), a few new injectors, new shifter linkage and quite a bit more just to get it drivable. After driving it a little, I had to replace one of the track arms. It rusted through and broke completely in two. The car was rusty. You couldn't lift it without bending the frame a little. Gas lines would periodically rust and leak, etc, etc. A few months later a Volkswagen knowledgeable friend of mine adjusted the fuel mixture and timing settings just right and maybe it was just because I was used to driving a Renault Encore, but it seemed like that Rabbit could really move.

I never did much else to it except cover the rust holes with duct tape and drive, drive, drive. The transmission was on its way out and it took a little practice to get the gears to shift without grinding the gears, but I mastered it and the transmission never got any worse the 50,000 miles or so I put on it. Eventually I sold it for $100 to a kid who broke down in town and just needed a car to get back home.

I once drove this car through a couple feet of standing water and drew water into the engine. I pulled it home and could not get the engine to turn over to try to start it. My dad suggested pulling the spark plugs to relieve the pressure. We pulled the plugs and turned the engine over and water shot all over the garage. We kept doing that until it quit. Changed the oil, replace the plugs, it started up and I drove it around until it quit blowing white smoke. Change the oil, replace the plugs... Wow! That thing ran better than ever. Like a new car. I guess it cleaned it out pretty good.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

great pictures, great stories, great cars. this blog's great!