Back in the 1980s Herb Adams penned a boppy little wedge machine for VSE to sell as a fiberglass kit with MK1 Volkswagen Golf components. In a way this could be seen as an ideological evolution on the Meyers Manx. It was intended to be widely available as a compact and lightweight machine with mechanicals that could be fixed at any import mechanic. It was a great idea, but it never fully took off.
If you don’t know the name Herb Adams, all you really need to know is that he was one of the greatest big-three engineers in history. He was the guy who made all of John Delorean’s Pontiac dreams come to fruition with the Trans Am Ram Air IV project and the Super Duty 455 among others. He was a master of making things go fast in straight lines and around corners. Just trust me, he was great.
25 of these were built in Carmel, California in the late 1980s and were given the JackRabbit name, a play on the Rabbit from which it got all of its internal gubbins. All in the Jackrabbit delivered lightweight response and handling from relatively workaday mechanicals. Fully dressed a JackRabbit would weigh around 1500 pounds, and allegedly saw just shy of one lateral G on the skid pad, unheard of numbers for the 1980s. It was an autocrosser’s dream. VSE was also known for its Cobra kit cars, and Adams allegedly quipped that the JackRabbit would beat a Cobra in a race, provided that race was downhill.
This particular JackRabbit is in pretty rough shape as it has been stored and inop for at least 25 years. I actually saw this car listed for sale around five years ago as Kodak pictures pinned to a foamcore board leaned up against a car at a Porsche and VW show in NorCal. Every once in a while it pops up in the circles I travel in, but most recently I spied it on my local Craigslist and knew I needed to share it with the world.
I really don’t have space or time or money or effort to expend into the restoration of this car, but one of you simply must. This car deserves to be dragged out of the dark and polished up. It’s the perfect vehicle for any VW fanatic with a big-boost ABA or something. Heck, maybe a VR6-T would really rip in this thing, despite the added weight over the front.
The car currently has a 1.6-liter watercooled inline four with CIS injection paired to a 4-speed transmission. Allegedly that engine has been rebuilt, and the car has “many new suspension parts” so maybe you could get it running and drive it around for a while in its current state before going hog wild. Whatever, I won’t judge you. It’s a very cool project.
This picture is where it all falls apart for me. That looks like a bit of a scary mess. Who even knows what’s happening there. I don’t. What a great opportunity to rip it all out and start over again. Your opportunity. Rise to the challenge, o’ savior of the JackRabbit. You know you want to.
The car is listed as being just south of Lake Tahoe on the California side. You can see more details and a couple extra pictures by clicking this link. Give the seller a call, what’s the worst that could happen? Just let me ride in it when it’s done.