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WatsonDIY

Anthony's Life With a Volkswagen Rabbit

The ongoing restoration of a VW Rabbit I have been driving for more than 25 years.

My 1976 VW Rabbit

rabbit03 This is my car, a cheap econobox from the 70's. It was never intended as a classic car, and most of the millions on the road have long since been scrapped in the junkyards. I could have bought a newer car at any time, but for some reason I have kept this little car going over the years. I suppose you would have to be a Volkswagen nut to understand why any sane person would choose to do this, but there's something I still enjoy about this car. It has a lot of problems, but ironically it seems to turn heads when I drive around town. Many people I run into stop and reminisce about the old days when someone they knew owned a Rabbit. It is getting harder and harder to find parts to keep it going, but I suppose that's part of the journey with my VW Rabbit.

1980

When I first got my drivers license, my parents bought me an old Datsun to start out with. I hated that car from day one, and never even took a picture of it. It's the car I prefer to forget I ever owned. :)

1981

rabbit15 In my Junior year of high school, we sold the Datsun and bought my first VW Rabbit. It had a boxy shape, was painted a bright fluorescent green, and didn't run all that well. I spent nearly as much time working under the hood as I did driving it, but something about that car connected with me. It was fun to drive and easy to work on, so I learned a lot about fixing cars. Gas was only 99 cents at the time, so I would fill the tank for less than $10 and put on many miles driving around the local area.

Jan 1982

rabbit16 My first Rabbit wasn't all that reliable for long distances, so once I started college we traded in the 75 Rabbit for a newer 1976 Rabbit. My step dad wanted to get me a sporty car like the Camaro or Firebird of the time, but I was too attached to the Rabbit. It was still green, but the "Mountain Green" was a little easier on the eyes. It also ran a lot better, which meant I drove even more miles exploring the surrounding areas.

1982

rabbit17 Early in 1982, I met the girl who would later become my wife. We dated for five years and spent many hours leaning against my little bunny. Even then, everyone knew me as the guy who drove the green Rabbit. I was a lot skinnier and had a lot more hair back then.

1982

rabbit18 My best friend bought a red 1976 Rabbit, and we would often strap inflatable rafts to our cars and drive up river to float back down. Unfortunately, his Rabbit was totaled in a multi-car crash while we were in town, and he moved on to other cars. But, I took what parts I could from his car before it was towed away, and still use the steering wheel from his car in my Rabbit today.

May 1986

rabbit19 I had always wanted a black car, so we spent weeks prepping the car and a friend of ours painted it for me.
rabbit20 rabbit21

Jun 1986

rabbit22 When my girlfriend graduated high school, my Rabbit and I were there to bring her home. Nothing but the best limo ride for my lady!

Nov 1986

rabbit23 As fate would have it, my wife's first car was also a 76 VW Rabbit. So when we finally got married in 1986, we drove her Rabbit home from the church. Let's be real... I didn't want shaving cream all over my new paint job. :)

Nov 1986

rabbit24 When we went on our honeymoon to the San Juan islands in northwestern Washington state, it was just me, my bride, and my bunny.

Jun 1987

rabbit25 During the first years of our marriage, we would often take road trips and go camping in the back of my Rabbit. I took the back seat out, had a small platform I set in the rear footwells, and a custom cut 4" thick upholstered cushion to make a bed in back. It was actually quite comfortable.

Mar 1988

rabbit26 We took many long drives in my Rabbit. At least as far as the road would take us...

Jul 1988

rabbit27 Unfortunately, one fateful day a teenage gal reaching for a tissue box rear ended me at 60+mph while I was parked at a stop light. The car was too far gone to fix, though surprisingly still driveable. A couple months later, we found out we were going to have a baby.

Aug 1988

rabbit28 rabbit14 I wasn't ready to give up my little bunny just yet, so I found an orange Rabbit and repainted it to match my old one exactly. I transferred everything from the old car into the new one, engine, tranny, suspension, interior, etc., keeping the best from each car. Is it still the same car? I don't know, but at least it gave me that illusion.

Jun 1989

rabbit29 When we bought our property, we often drove up to camp out overnight and built campfires next to my Rabbit.

Jun 1990

rabbit30 When our daughter turned one year old, we naturally drove my Rabbit up to our property to celebrate her first birthday (She recently finished her bachelor degree in college. )

Jul 1990

rabbit31 Once I got my utility trailer, my little bunny really started earning it's keep. I have towed countless loads up our mountain road, including these trusses to build my first shed.

Nov 1991

rabbit32 When we bought our first home (a single wide mobile), I used my Rabbit to haul up the lumber and supplies for decks and whatnot.

Dec 2008

rabbit33 rabbit34 My little Rabbit has had a full life, and it isn't always easy living outside like that.

May 2011

My Rabbit and I are both aging gracefully, and after 35 years the old bunny was starting to rust through. Water was leaking in, and the floorpans were full of holes. I wasn't ready to give up on my little car yet, but I didn't know what to do about it. Without any experience or good sense to know better, I bought a small welder and some replacement floor pans. Then I proceeded to cut out the old floor and weld in the new panels. It was quite a job, and I replaced a rusty battery tray and fixed some other problem areas while I had the equipment out. I even imported some new carpet from England so my Rabbit would be good as new inside.

2012

rabbit35 rabbit09 Which brings us to today. Just some old dude still driving a 1976 Rabbit like he did in high school. Impressive, or pitiful, you be the judge...