Project Rabbit GTI: Tucking the Bumpers for a Sleeker Look

When we purchased our 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI, turbocharged by Callaway back in the day, it sported the original U.S.-spec, 5 mph rear bumper along with an aftermarket Euro front bumper. That front bumper looks sleeker than the original piece and weighs less.

But that bumper also introduced a wrinkle. Like the earlier, U.S.-spec Rabbits, European cars feature turn signals integrated into the front bumpers. Later U.S.-spec cars, like ours, sport turn signals in the outer corners of the grille. The front fenders are notched to accommodate that wider grille. In short, we had two sets of turn signals up front. 

The European-spec bumper, at least in our mind, works best on a narrow-grille car.

While the Rabbit looks sleek without those grille-mounted turn signals, we didn’t want to replace the front fenders. We also wanted to keep our car looking stock. Our idea was to restore an up-and-coming classic and not to build a boy racer GTI.

Still, our car was not completely stock, and we were willing to make some concessions to make those U.S.-spec bumpers a little less intrusive.

First, we found a proper U.S.-spec front bumper. After restoring both the front and rear bumpers, we tucked them in a few inches.

This process is pretty straight forward and involves decommissioning the shock absorbers and then welding them in a compressed position.

While this does compromise the car’s ability to withstand a parking lot bump, it shouldn’t materially compromise the bumper's ability to assist in a higher speed accident.

Details on how we tucked the bumpers are explained in this video:


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8/14/20 8:05 p.m.

Reminds me of what I did to my GTI back in 1984! Brings back great memories! If I could find a good White over blue 84 she'd be all mine!!!

9/13/20 1:18 p.m.

So who makde the body kit you tacked on?  I rather like it.  And are those wheels from Ronal?

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