1981 Volkswagen Rabbit LS DieselS

Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. How much power does a car really need?

1981 Volkswagen Rabbit LS DieselS

For the 1,750-pound '81 Rabbit Diesel, Volkswagen felt that 48 horsepower was plenty; in fact, the Rabbit Diesel had a better power-to-weight ratio than the 1,724-pound/53-horsepower '69 Beetle, and diesel torque should have made it feel even quicker. That was not the case, however; I've driven both cars (in fact, I did my driver training classes in a dual-brake-pedal Rabbit Diesel), and the Beetle feels slightly zippy while the Rabbit Diesel feels dangerously slow. Perception? Reality?

1981 Volkswagen Rabbit LS DieselS

Still, these things sip that costly oil through a cocktail straw, giving Rabbit Diesel owners the right to sneer at those resource-depleters in thirsty Priuses. Most of the survivors seem to be the Rabbit pickups, but I was able to find this sedan parked by the Bay, quite close to the '88 Peugeot 505 Turbo.

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