Dirty Diesel: 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit C 52K – SOLD!
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August 13, 2023, Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” We’re not surprised this diesel-powered Rabbit lasted only one week as it appeared to be a well-sorted survivor quality example offered at a very realistic asking price. While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.
Record Inflation, rising interest rates, and high gas prices. While all three attributes dominate current event headlines, the same could be said for the late 1970s. A second gas shortage just five years after the 1973 Arab oil embargo forced many consumers to look for more economical alternatives. Volkswagen offered the right car at the right time when it launched its diesel-powered Rabbit in the U.S. With an EPA-rated 40 MPG City and 50 MPG highway, consumers interested in buying a diesel-powered Rabbit were put on waiting lists as demand quickly out-paced supply.
With acceleration on par with its classic Beetle, a late 1970s vintage, diesel-powered Volkswagen would not win you any stoplight Grand Prix, but it did provide economical transportation. The problem is that the durable engine often outlasted the car’s poorly rust-proofed steel body.
This white 52K original mile 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit C Diesel for sale, first spotted in August 2023 on Craigslist in Medway, Massachusetts (Boston), is a notable exception. We would love to learn the story of why this Rabbit has so few miles. Another plus is that the current caretaker appears to have thoroughly sorted their VW Rabbit to ensure there are no fluid leaks.
Last offered for $7,800, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is well below this guide’s six-month rolling results trend for all Volkswagen Golf MK1s sold at auction in the past six months. We note that nearly all of the examples shown are the highly-desirable GTI model. By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:
As a second data point, the Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $5,900 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $9,700.
The Classic Cars Today Online YouTube Channel features this 1978 U.S. Volkswagen commercial extolling the virtues of its efficient diesel engine:
Known for their durability, most 1970s vintage diesel-powered Rabbits rusted away before their oil-burning powerplants were even close to giving up the ghost. With only 52K original miles, this 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit C Diesel for sale is barely broken in and features a rust-free body and a leak-free power train. This Rabbit represents an economical way to get involved with the collector car hobby. It’s also an effective vehicle to consider if you’re worried about an impending Electromagnetic Pulse (“EMP”) attack, as it does not rely on any electronics to run and can be easily converted to run on common vegetable oil if needed.
If you are serious about buying this diesel-powered Rabbit, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad. When you connect, please mention that you saw their vintage Golf survivor featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!
Here’s the seller’s description:
Made in Wolfsburg, West Germany
Diesel (could be converted to vegetable oil)
Everything works, even the factory radio
Nothing leaks (no drips on the driveway)
It starts on first crank
Original factory configuration (replacement parts OEM where available)
53 mpg, verified
Work done in last 2000 miles:
– New head gasket
– Valve job while the head was off
– New shocks
– New clutch
– All transmission seals were replaced during a clutch job
– Rear main seal replaced
– Remanufactured diesel fuel injection pump
– Remanufactured fuel injectors
– New glow plugs
– Remanufactured starter motor
– All new rear brake system and bearings
– New master cylinder
– New CV boots, joints regreased
– All new motor mounts
– New fuel filter
– New timing belt and accessory belt
– New tires
– New battery
Bentley, Haynes, and Chilton manuals
Lots of extras (car cover, floor mats, etc.)“
Show or go: What would you do with this 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit C Diesel for sale? Please comment below and let us know!