Unbelievable excitement ensues as two Seattleites prepare for a baby!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Chris' Object of Automotive Desire - 1/24

I've always had a thing for the original Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf and the resulting GTI - for one thing, my uncle used to ice-race a yellow Rabbit with great effect in South Dakota. At an early age, he presented me with a custom-painted yellow Matchbox Rabbit with his sponsorship decals assiduously affixed (he is also a master model crafter), and from that day onwards I thought it would be awfully cool to own a Rabbit/Golf/GTI of my own.

The first-generation Rabbit/Golf was a revolutionary design - a sharply-creased replacement for the bulbous and obsolete Beetle, it incorporated the space-saving lessons learned from the original Mini into a larger design with a cavernous hatchback, crisp driving manners, and attractive Guigaro-penned lines. It was an instant hit in America and directly influenced every economy hatchback since made for this market.

The GTI was similarly seminal - it was the first mass-produced hot hatchback, offering in the dark days of the early 1980s a mighty mite performance car made fun thanks to agility, not cubic inches, and without sacrificing utiliity. The legendary GTI line has continued, finding its recent apex in the Golf R32 super-hot-hatach of several years ago, but the original still carries the most purity of line and intent.

During the car-shopping trip several years ago in which I tested the Merkur and eventually bought my beloved Malibu Wagon, I tested a GTI with the hope that I might finally own one. However, the fact that it was completely knackered, combined with a steering wheel that made my hands smell like Cool Ranch Dorito's, convinced me it wasn't the way to go. And really, that's true of all of the early GTIs - it's very difficult to find an original GTI that hasn't either been thrashed or destroyed.

Here's a great page where somebody documents their GTI rebuilding project:



Blogger GrandmaCathy said...

Okay, Brother Jim, Don't you have some good stories to share about your Rabbit adventures?

10:04 PM

Blogger mrclm said...

I had a Rabbit in the early 90's. It was an 84 Rabbit (I think), 4 cylinder with tan interior and tan exterior. It had 4 doors and the hatch, and not much else. I would regularly cram myself and 4 other football players in it on our way home after practice each day in High school. 1 of those guys was the quarterback, the other 3 were linemen. Sardines. I think the rear bumper hit pavement a number of times.

The best thing about owning this little car was it's initial acceleration. I could beat almost any car across the street at a stop light. 0 to 15 acceleration was incredible, and then the lack of HP kicked in, it would fall flat, and I'd be eating dust. But it was great when you wanted in the other lane at a stop light, you'd just blow the guy away and cut him off before his motor could get up in RPMs.

I had my Rabbit going 115ish mph one late night (don't tell my mom). I was racing a buddy in an early 80's Camero who's mid range ate my lunch, but was having some problems with his motor fluttering at about 100mph. I bet he felt stupid being passed by a tan VW Rabbit at 115mph. I'll never drive like that again, I promise...or at least not in a Rabbit! The Rabbit was nearly red lined. About a year later, the distributer shaft snapped in the motor. We junked the car, as the repairs were more than the car was worth.

Yes, I've owned or driven a lot of cars.

Big Chris
Because I said so blog

11:47 AM

Blogger Unca Jim said...

Being the aforementioned uncle from SD, I finally have to weigh in with my own version of Rabbit Tracks.
My '76 Bunny was used, misused and abused as a daily driver and mercilessly flogged at Solo II events on pavement as well as on a frozen lake here in the Black Hills. Also did hillclimbs in Montana and SD with the car.

Along the way the car suffered indignities innumerable, including:
*scorching the paint off the hood after a backfire through newly installed dual carbs set the air filter elements ablaze.

*Winning an autocross on a very tight course by running the entire two laps in first gear. Those poor four cylinders were hitting higher notes than Beverly Sills. Stouter springs kept the valves from achieving the stratosphere, but I do remember catching glimpses of course watchers either covering their ears or taking cover to avoid the shrapnel from what they assumed was imminent and acute oil pan failure.

*Winning a five-event ice racing championship by doing no better than fourth in any event. All I had to run were nearly transparent Goodrich Radial TA's that hydroplaned if the humidity was too high. Still won the title because the first place points were spread among five different drivers. Like Woody Allen said, most of life is just showing up...

That car is long gone, but I'm trying to obtain clear title to an 84 GTI, abandoned at a local repair place with a bad clutch. SD laws on abandoned cars are very strict, and I'm required to leave no stone unturned to locate the previous owner. My best info is that he's enjoying three hots and a cot as an extended guest of the state-owned Striped Sunlight Inn. Stay Tuned.

9:11 AM


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