This Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup Was a Rare Stroke of Genius

This Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup Was a Rare Stroke of Genius

Volkswagen’s Rabbit Pickup has a record rooted in disaster. A catastrophe that commences again when Chrysler determined to build a plant in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Selecting it needed more generation capability back in the mid-1960s, Chrysler scouted out areas and made a decision to create an assembly plant close to the town of New Stanton. And by 1968, on a 1200 acre web-site along with I-70, the corporation had erected the shell of a 2.8-million sq. foot plant to construct Mopar merchandise. Apart from, Chrysler chickened out. With sales fallow, it walked absent from the internet site and it sat there for the eight-or-so years

For Chrysler this was a minimal squander of funds. But for Westmoreland County and Pennsylvania, it was a calamity. The governments experienced sunk funds into infrastructure to support the expected plant together with widening streets and incorporating rail spurs. And for all that, they acquired some concrete partitions in the center of an normally rural spot.

Then in 1976 Volkswagen went searching to establish an assembly plant in the United States. This was back again when VW was obtaining that the marketplace existence it experienced set up with the Beetle was fading. When it was making a wholesale move to front-drive cars like the new Golf (or Rabbit) and Scirocco. It was VW’s counter shift to the escalating success of Toyota, Nissan (as Datsun) and even that novice Honda. It would also be the to start with overseas company to assemble vehicles in the United States considering the fact that Rolls-Royce gave up its plant in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1931. And there was that relatively practical building just sitting down in Pennsylvania begging for VW to come in cheap and get up managing swift.

So that is what VW did. And the Westmoreland plant was up and jogging by 1978 generating an Americanized edition of the lovely very first-technology Golfing (Rabbit).

And VW botched it. With executives recruited from the American marketplace, they wrecked the Rabbit. Long gone was the European aptitude and easygoing manners. Instead the Rabbit obtained square headlights, a monochromatic plastic interior, hideous-ass total wheel covers and white wall tires. The suspension was softened to rob the car of any delight as well. It was terrible.

But its soul was nonetheless a Golfing so there was some very good to be mined. Finally.

John Pearley Huffman

And the Us citizens identified that excellent with a little bit of innovation. By hacking off the tail of a Rabbit five doorway at the B-pillar and then rebuilding the aft conclusion with a little pickup mattress they established a type of – here’s a phrase from 1928 – nifty tiny truck. Practically nothing extravagant, just a Rabbit Pickup with entrance-push, usually with a diesel engine and a whole lot of utility. It received excellent mileage, was slower than molasses in wintertime, and all types of lovely. And it was an American thought.

VW started off offering the Pickup as a 1979 design and would build them until finally 1984 when the 2nd-era Golfing design was eventually released. The Pickup’s 1.6-liter diesel four was rated at, gasp, 52-horsepower. The available 1.7-liter gasoline four was at a spectacular 78-horsepower. No threats to the laws of physics had been involved.

vw caddy

John Pearley Huffman

While Honda and Toyota proven robust U.S. assembly services during the 1980s, VW’s Westmoreland experiment. Inspite of much better solutions like the GTI getting built there, the Rabbit and Golfing languished. VW gave up the plant in 1988 and the site has been redeveloped more than time for various industrial use.

In the meantime, the tooling for the Rabbit Pickup was transported to South Africa exactly where it stayed in generation as the “Caddy” by 2007. Which is a very good operate for a truck born in a unsuccessful effort and hard work to make an American VW.Since the Rabbit Pickup, there have been other smaller entrance-generate pickups created with various levels of accomplishment. Barely remembered are the Dodge Rampage and Plymouth Scamp twins developed from 1982 through 1984. The Subaru Brat (marketed right here among 1978 and 1987) basically beat the Rabbit Pickup to industry but bolted seats in again that type of designed it a non-pickup pickup. The Subaru Baja (2003 to 2006) was a noble attempt at a revival. And right Ford is launching its Maverick small entrance-travel truck and Hyundai’s providing the Santa Cruz.

This individual Rabbit pickup was for sale near my property in Santa Barbara, California exhibiting about 287,000 miles on its odometer. Asking selling price was $4700. Which would seem rather stout.

VW need to check out and screw up like this all over again.

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