History of the Volkswagen Rabbit

The Volkswagen Rabbit, the little car that started it all for the next generation of Volkswagens. The year was 1975 and VW sales were dropping. The Japanese auto makers were swarming the U.S. market with little econoboxes far cheaper than a Beetle. The Beetle had met it's fate. VW needed a new plan of action. The solution, A small front wheel drive car that was frugal in every way. Behold the VW Rabbit, a water-cooled 4 cylinder, with a transversely mounted engine driving the front wheels for around the same price as a Japanese econobox. The VW Rabbit was the replacement for the Beetle in the US market. The Rabbit never really caught on until around 1979, when the oil crisis was at full force. The little Rabbit, combined with the optional 1.5l 4 cylinder Diesel delivered superb fuel economy (45mpg's city/up to 57 mpg's highway) The Rabbit had waiting lists at the dealership during that time. Production for the U.S. market moved over here to Westmoreland Pennsylvania in 1978. The first Rabbit rolled of the assembly line on April 10th 1978 with NBC news present to unveil the first foreign car to be built in the USA. When production moved, the Rabbit got a makeover for the late 1979 model year. One of the most noticeable changes to define the american Rabbit were the new square headlights. In 1981, the rabbit got another makeover, gone were the small taillights, the "new" square headlights got carried over from the previous year but got wrap around turn signals to replace the ones previously in the bumper. The Rabbits interior got "Americanized" by color keying almost everything inside the car. The engine also grew for the 1981 model year, the gas engine grew from 1.6 to 1.7l , and the diesel now a 1.6 up from 1.5. The Rabbit never received many changes over the time of production, but it did receive many improvements. In late 1979 for the 1980 model year the Rabbit pickup was introduced, lengthened by about 3 feet, the little truck could haul a lot of stuff. It came with a diesel or gas engine(but almost all of them that were sold were diesels) In 1982 the GTi was introduced, a sporty version of the Rabbit. The GTi came with a 1.8l engine, stiffer suspension, alloy wheels, front air dam, and special recaro sport seats. Top speed, acceleration, and handling were improved on the GTi. Another edition was also released in 1982, this one was the "black tie" edition Rabbit. This Rabbit featured Black bumpers and moldings to dress it up. The interior had special seats, while the outside got a Rear wiper. In 1984, the Wolfsburg Edition Rabbit came along. A luxurious Rabbit, that came with a special interior, A/C, an extra molding on the bottom of the door, and little odds and ends. In July of 1984 the Rabbit moved over to make way for the production of the new Golf. The Rabbit, although short lived, gave a new start for Volkswagen. The Rabbit is still sought after all over the U.S., it just goes to show you a good Volkswagen never dies.
Production went from April of 78 to July of 1988 when VW chastely Closed that plant, they are sorry now for that decision. The Rabbit, Rabbit GTI, pickup, Golf and Jeta were manafactured during that time to add up to a total of 1,192,411 cars built there.

GTI Rabbit with "Euro bumpers" and what look to be Boret type C wheels.

Stock GTI with the exception of 17 inch Corrado wheels.

Standard 4-door Rabbit with chrome goodies and nice wheels.