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paranoid_android UltraDork
9/2/16 8:55 p.m.

A couple weeks ago I posted in Off Topic about being dumbfounded by my wife showing me a listing for a VW Rabbit for sale. Linky here. Today I went and bought it. From this point on, nothing that happens will (ultimately) be my fault! Luckily the car was only a block from my house as the only help I had was from my 9 and 7 year old sons, and I had no vehicle to tow it with except my 91 Saab. Oh, and it doesn't run. And part of the deal was I get it out of the nice lady's driveway today. So I did what any responsible parent would do: put my kids in the car (9 year old in the driver's seat), rolled down the windows and started pushing. Having never steered a car he did pretty well! I got it almost to my driveway and could push no more. A couple neighbors saw me and came out to help push it into my driveway. They liked us pretty well when we first moved in! So it's a plain Jane 84 with autotragic. And surprisingly little rot for having been a younger person's hooptie and lived its whole life in the salt belt. Mileage is ???. It sat for about five months. Before that it "ran fine" but became hard to start. "Once it started it never stalled." After going through two batteries it was parked and granny bought her a new appliance. 

The worst of the rust is on the passenger's side just under the rocker, the lower front corner of the door and in the rear quarter.

So progress here will be slow. I have to finish finishing my garage (mostly) and putting it back together so I can actually use it for car things. And this is going to be a busy month for me so I will have little spare time to mess with it. Oh, and the Saab still needs its exhaust fixed. But initial plans are to go through the fuel system and double check the alternator to see if I can get it running reliably. Then any other plans will likely be put off because I will drive the E36 M3 out of it for a while! In the end, I've wanted a Rabbit since I first drove a GTI in '90 or '91. That GTI has been on my want list for a long time, but this will have to do.

Woody MegaDork
9/2/16 9:33 p.m.

I miss these cars.

Crackers New Reader
9/2/16 9:49 p.m.

From your description it sounds more like you followed it home.

I had one of these in a 5 speed drop top for about 2 weeks before I sold it.

Tom_Spangler UltraDork
9/2/16 9:51 p.m.

Ah, Howard Cooper. My mom bought her '86 Prelude Si there brand-new. First GTI I ever drove was an 83 they had on their used lot in 1988 or so.

ssswitch Dork
9/2/16 9:59 p.m.

Poor little Rabbit. It's a good thing you were there to help nurse it back to health.

The only ones that still exist here are cabriolets.

Alternator-wise I know you can throw a cheap GM 3-wire on it:


cj32769 New Reader
9/3/16 7:17 a.m.

I was in South Africa two years ago and the little rabbit was still very alive only they ended production in 2009 the rabbit trucks were everywhere too. I wanted so bad to be able to grab one to bring home but the cost would probablybe outrageous. They are call Golf Citi and have an added body line in the C pillar. 2009 Rabbit

chandlerGTi UberDork
9/3/16 8:09 a.m.

As a serial Rabbit owner I commend you, I've had 44 MKIs and loved every one! Cheap to work on and pretty rewarding to drive. I have bins of used parts of you need anything

Cooper_Tired HalfDork
9/3/16 9:04 a.m.

Lots of rabbit threads around here lately. They're multiplying like, well, like rabbits I suppose.

Congrats on the pick up. Always exciting to pick up a new ride

dropstep Dork
9/3/16 9:14 a.m.

Since my dad brought one home from work as a kid ive wanted one. Ill follow this!

Doc Brown
Doc Brown Dork
9/3/16 9:36 a.m.

Back in the day, my brothers Rabbit was a nightmare to start when it was cold. The quick fix was to hot wire the cold start valve with a momentary switch. Might be worth a shot. The valve (circled) just needs 12V and ground to squirt a shot of fuel to get the engine going.

JtspellS SuperDork
9/3/16 10:01 a.m.

My first car was an 82 rabbit, this post kinda makes me miss it, good luck with the build!

ebonyandivory UltraDork
9/3/16 10:21 a.m.

Great memories (too few) of an '83 Diesel Rabbit, manual with a sunroof. Best buddies car from his uncle. I'd take that back in a heartbeat.

paranoid_android74 SuperDork
9/3/16 11:07 a.m.

In reply to Tom_Spangler:

Yes, the Howard Cooper badge made me smile. I leased my first new car from them on 03 or so, a Honda Civic.

But they finally sold out and became Germaine I think. I haven't been back since.

paranoid_android74 SuperDork
9/3/16 11:17 a.m.

In reply to chandlerGTi:

44? Good grief! That's awesome!

I will keep your parts offer in mind, thank you.

I can't wait to hear it run- tee hee!

paranoid_android74 SuperDork
9/3/16 11:23 a.m.
Doc Brown wrote: Back in the day, my brothers Rabbit was a nightmare to start when it was cold. The quick fix was to hot wire the cold start valve with a momentary switch. Might be worth a shot. The valve (circled) just needs 12V and ground to squirt a shot of fuel to get the engine going.

Great tip, thank you Doc! I may give that a try.

84FSP Dork
9/3/16 1:17 p.m.

Congratulations. I'm a rabbit addict and am happy to bring someone new to the fold.

egoman New Reader
9/3/16 1:24 p.m.

Harder and harder to start but once started it never stalled, sounds like spark plugs would be my first guess.

paranoid_android74 SuperDork
9/3/16 8:56 p.m.
egoman wrote: Harder and harder to start but once started it never stalled, sounds like spark plugs would be my first guess.

I'll try to find time to dig into this tomorrow.

simontibbett Reader
9/3/16 9:42 p.m.

I know someone that has a lot of cool Rabbit stuff...cough...cough.

paranoid_android74 SuperDork
9/3/16 10:25 p.m.

In reply to simontibbett:


Trust me, I saw your listing! And that is a very sharp car, not to mention a great deal.

paranoid_android UltraDork
10/16/16 9:14 p.m.

This weekend I got my garage finishing as far as it will get this year. Except for a heater. And I got enough crap cleaned out to finally push the Rabbit in to start working on it. Rolled the windows down and propped the hatch open to air out some of the funk. Then I discovered a small pool on the floor behind the driver's seat.

I'm guessing new door seals will be in order? But only after all the fabric is out of the interior. And I couldn't resist- I had to try to start it! It has oil in it and may or may not have coolant in it (expansion tank was dry). So I took an old battery, charged it up some, and fit it in as best I could. Added a couple gallons of fresh gas and tried it. It turned over happily but no joy. I wasn't surprised. While recharging the battery again I squirted some starting fluid in it and tried again. By golly it ran on the starting fluid! But I couldn't get it to stay running. A small victory nonetheless! So I guess from here I'll give Doc Brown's idea some consideration. And I'm also wondering about giving the fuel system a good once over- drain the tank, check the pump, new fuel filter (if I can find it), etc.

Burrito Dork
10/16/16 9:19 p.m.

That's the e-brake button. They have a tendency to, uhh, eject.

paranoid_android74 SuperDork
10/16/16 9:24 p.m.

In reply to Burrito:

Yes! I can see how that would be it.

That whole assembly went missing at some point in the car's life...

84FSP Dork
10/17/16 2:39 p.m.

Sort the cis out before you get to far down the wrong path. This sounds like fuel starvation to me. Good oldschool troubleshooting site Simple stuff is often the cause of your woes. -cold start injector misbehaving -fuel pump not getting enough power due to old wires -injector o rings dried out leaving injectors sucking wind -fuel enrichment module wonky

Fuel filter is probably tire of suck skuz and rust from the old tank of fuel. Cheap to replace and right by the aurbox.

Check power to the pump with the key in on position. Easily resolved by adding a mkii fuel pump relay and running dedicated power.

Pull injectors and cold start and put in glass jar to test. Cold start often does nothing or leaks continuously. Injectors will often drip or have a really bad pattern.

Next steps involve borrowing the fuel injection pressure check kit and a Bentley manual. Few of these haven't been "fixed" by someone who shouldn't have touched them at this point.

There are lots of good places still selling parts affordable although some parts are unobtainium and relegated to vw vortex or the-samba.

Don't tough the mixture or idle screws until you have sorted the first items however tempting it might be.

einy Reader
10/17/16 5:34 p.m.

Not sure how the Hive feels about these guys, but in my MkI and MkII days, I had great luck with Parts Place Inc. for used parts.

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