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Old 12-10-2007, 09:46 PM   #1
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VW Rabbit Diesel


There is the Civic VX which gets 40-50 mpg
The Geo Metro Xfi which gets 45-57 mpg
and the VW Jetta, and Golf TDIs which gets 40-50 mpg

What about the old school Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel. Yeah I know this car has 50HP but it does get pretty good MPG, about 40+ miles to the gallon.

What do you folks think about the old VW Rabbit Diesel? There is the subcompact and the truck version of the Rabbit Diesel. Anyone ever had one of these? If so we like to hear your experience.

My Gas Saver:
1994 Honda Civic DX Automatic
2003 Toyota Camry SE

Non Gas Saver:
1994 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo
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Old 12-10-2007, 11:10 PM   #2
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My dad owned one back in the oil crisis of the 70s and 80s. He can never say enough good things about it. He loved that thing. He also laughs about how much black smoke it put off, but then again, he never has been much an environmentalist. The apple falls far from the tree in this case. Oh, he drives Lexus and Infiniti cars now, so he has changed quite a bit in his choice of cars. I guess that comes with age and wealth accumulation though.

Keep in mind, those cars were being made A LOOOONG time ago. What someone remembers about them from 20 to 30 years ago may well be useless information today. Be prepared to be stared at if you drive one.

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Old 12-11-2007, 12:01 AM   #3
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IMO, cheapest cars to run out there.
Originally Posted by FormulaTwo
I think if i could get that type of FE i would have no problem driving a dildo shaped car.
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Old 12-11-2007, 07:07 AM   #4
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I've heard alot of people talk about them being dangerously underpowered. I drove an unmolested 82 model a few years back and found it to feel about like any other economy car. It sped right up to illegal speeds without breaking a sweat. The only thing I disliked was contortionist shifter(specifically reverse) and seemingly frail suspension and steering components.
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Old 12-11-2007, 08:19 AM   #5
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you can't compare diesel HP to petrol... these old diesel engines usually have a pretty long stroke wich gives them a lot of torque, so even when on paper they seem underpowered they can actually get the car up to any reasonable speed. on the other hand, your can't revv them anywhere close to where you can revv a petrol engine, so the car will accelerate slower nomather how much you mash the pedal...

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Old 12-11-2007, 09:30 AM   #6
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I noticed an 82 diesel VW rabbit in the paper a couple on months ago for $800, but never got around to calling about it to see what kind of shape it was in.

The price of diesel has gone up higher than gasoline lately, so I wonder how economical it would be to pay 3.35 per gallon for diesel and get 50 mpg when you can get 45 mpg with a slightly newer gasoline vehicle and pay 2.85 per gallon. But who knows how the price of the fuels will compare in the future...

The other issue is finding parts for older vehicles. I had located a Civic of the same year as mine at a local junk yard and had bought a few parts off it about a year ago for a very reasonable price. However, when scrap metal prices went up, the junk yard owner crushed and sold off just about all the pre 1990 imports

The high scrap prices are making parts for older cars harder to find.
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:27 AM   #7
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We have a 1982 4 door Rabbit diesel that my grandparents bought new, then passed on to my brother, it currently sits needing a bit of work, but it worked great! they used to advertise it as being cheaper to drive then making a long distance phone call, our shop manual states that if your mileage drops below 45mpg with mixed driving that something is wrong, the note book in the glove box is not a full gas log, but it does have some notes from long distance trips that my grandparents made with the car where they recorded over 60mpg a number of times in a row with highway driving, and my brother, at age 18 was getting 48-52mpg, and he did comment on how if it was full of people it got noticably slower.
The down sides of a VW diesel is that they are a VW, the suspention is under engingered so you are alwas replaceing struts (60,000 miles) and the cv joints are simaler in that they need to be replaced every 60,000-80,000 miles, the head is an interference design with a weak timing belt that needs attention every 80,000 miles and it's best if you have some specail tools for changing the timing belt (don't ever let someone who hasn't worked on a VW diesel touch the timing belt!) buy a special 12 pointed torx like (but differnt) driver for removing the cv joints, a dial indicator for setting the timing, but parts are avalible, and reasonably cheap from The Volkswagon Parts Place (.com I think), and the rabbit was around 2000 pounds, so reasonably light for a 4 door car, personaly, I would like to put a newer 1.9L TDI engine in an older rabbit, as they are designed to get 50+mpg in a 3,000 pound car, put them in a 2,000 pound rabbit and it would be hard not to love it, at least not for the first 60,000-80,000 miles.
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Old 12-11-2007, 11:45 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Erdrick View Post
He also laughs about how much black smoke it put off, but then again, he never has been much an environmentalist.
Well, I'll stand up for diesels...

Yeah, black smoke. That's particulate matter that you can see, and it's easy for a living body to stop it in the nasal cavity, etc. Gasoline produces very small particulate matter that can travel past normal filtering in a living body, and then it's inside the system deep in the lungs, throat, etc.

I don't have a whole lot of experience with the older diesels. But many are not turbo charged, and they are generally completely mechanical in operation. That hurts their power, but often helps their economy. Makes them pretty simple to work on if you have some ability.

Personally, I'd love to have an older diesel car. I look occasionally, but they still fetch good money. I've even heard that the Ford Escort diesel engines were very good. Just no popularity on a Ford sales floor, so they are far and few between.

Anyone know when VW and company started using turbo diesels? Was that the mid 90's?
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Old 12-11-2007, 01:08 PM   #9
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I had an 86 Golf 2 door 1.6 diesel as an interim between my first two Passat TDI sedans. The TDI had better acceleration (despite being heavier) and better fuel economy (52+ lifetime for those first two TDIs,and only 45 for the IDI Golf). The TDI are quieter, cleaner (allright then, less dirty) start easier in the winter.
Longevity is about the same. The Golf had 275k when I sold it to a neighbor, the second Passat 295k when I sold it. (It's still running in St.Paul, now with 340K+).
The IDI are less picky about fuel quality and are better candidates for grease conversion. Early rotary distributor pump TDI accomodate biodiesel better than the recent Pumpe-duse TDI.
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Old 12-11-2007, 01:33 PM   #10
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dont forget about the desil chevette. gets low 50's. but again, ther goin on 20+ years now...gettin hard to find BUT autozone and the like still have parts etc...

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