I was explaining the virtues of driving my 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel (aka “The Rabbi”, then later “The Whistle Pig”) and was greeted with a rather interesting response: “You’ll never get a wife in a car like that!” I found this a particularly shallow and unnecessary observation on his part. Of course I wouldn’t. I knew that. I had no plans of bird-dogging chicks at the local strip mall with this thing. No illusions of females swooning at the sharp turbine whistle emitted by the side-exit exhaust. The mismatched hatch would not make them weak in the knees. That isn’t why I found that car so appealing.
What drew me to it was it’s simplicity, the pureness of the driving experience, the excellent fuel economy (better than today’s uber-complex hybrids), and the fact that the $175 purchase price seemed relatively affordable. (Truth be told, the previous owner’s girlfriend told him to make the decision between her or the car, thus the quick sale and low, low price.) Yes, it is ugly, rough, and will mark its territory with the predictability and dedication of a terrier in a public park. I love the directness of the manual steering, the boost-induced giggles of a self-installed turbo system, and the honesty of its reluctance to get going on a cold winter morning. It has character. It is a bit special. Read more