1981 Volkswagen Rabbit LS Diesel

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?


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?

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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