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Category: Volkswagen

Junkyard Gem: 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit

When Volkswagen introduced its second water-cooled model for North America as a 1975 model (the first was the 1974 Dasher), it was badged as the Rabbit instead of getting rest-of-the-world Golf badging. The Rabbit name stuck around here through 1984, after which the Golf designation took over in North America. Then, apparently to please nostalgia-prone American VW enthusiasts, the Rabbit name returned for the late 2006 model year. Here’s one of those second-time-around Rabbits, found in a Colorado self-service boneyard recently.

The Rabbit badges stayed on U.S.- and Canadian-market cars until the Mk6 pushed aside the Mk5 for 2010. Then Volkswagen shoved the Rabbit name into the memory hole, where it has remained since that time.

The 2006-2009 Rabbit was pitched to hip North American urban drivers and its brochure included handy guides to “the language of urban driving” that included definitions for such terms as Hurry Honker, Bumper Broadcasting and Spot Sloth. Clever!

It was available as a hatchback with two or four doors. This is the former, which had an MSRP of $15,600 (about $23,211 in 2024 dollars).

The engine is a 2.5-liter straight-five rated at 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet. That’s well over twice the power of its 1975 ancestor.

The base transmission was a five-speed manual, though this car has the far more popular six-speed automatic.

It looks fairly solid inside and out, though there is a bit of rust-through.

It appears to have been turned in as part of Colorado’s Vehicle Exchange Program, open to pre-2012 vehicles that fail their emissions tests.

It’s back, and it’s clogging the city.

For those who can afford a new car but can’t afford to pay for internet.


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Junkyard Gem: 1992 Volkswagen EuroVan CL

Volkswagen is once again in the van-selling business in the United States, after a best-forgotten period of attempting to sell rebadged Chrysler minivans plus the occasional teasing of vans that we never got here. The last gasp for the good old VW Transporter aka VW Bus here was the fourth-generation model, known in North America as the EuroVan and sold from the 1992 through 2003 model years. Here’s a first-year EuroVan, found in a Denver-area knacker’s yard recently.

The EuroVan had to compete against increasingly popular SUVs plus a huge range of affordable minivans from Detroit and Japan, so not many made it to our shores and they are quite rare in junkyards today. I find quite a few third-generation Transporters (aka Vanagons) during my junkyard travels, as well as the occasional second-generation model, but years go by between EuroVan sightings.

This one was built for new sale in Canada. I find Canadian-market cars in United States junkyards regularly, including a 1985 Peugeot 505, a 1991 Honda Civic, a 1997 Acura EL and a 2004 Acura EL. It’s legal for a Canadian- or Mexican-registered vehicles to drive in the United States for one year, after which it must return home or get proper registration in the United States. Since 1992 is well before the 25-year federal importation limit, this van might have been imported legally after 2017.

The instrument cluster was gone, so I didn’t see the telltale km/h speedometer, but the transmission type suggested that the original buyer of this van purchased it across the border. EuroVans with five-speed manual transmissions were sold in the United States, but few bought them.

The engine is a 2.5-liter gasoline-burning straight-five, rated at 109 horsepower. Since this van scales in at just under two tons, it would have been firmly within the tradition of excruciatingly slow VW Transporters.

It’s never a good sign for junkyard engine shoppers when you see spare engine parts inside the vehicle.

EuroVan sales in the United States continued through 2003, and these vans still have their devoted zealots enthusiasts in the United States today. There are two of them that park on the street in my Denver neighborhood, though I’m sure those Transporters don’t impress the owners of the half-dozen Vanagon Syncros who also live within a few blocks.

It’s definitely not a minivan, according to VWoA’s marketers.

Nothing mini about it!

When you do some serious begetting, you require something bigger than a Passat.

VW never gave up on the Transporter for Europe.

Just the thing for hard work.

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Junkyard Gem: 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon

Volkswagen began selling Transporter vans in the United States during the early 1950s, with sales continuing through three generations and through the 1991 model year. There are those who will tell you that VW Transporters are now much too sought-after by enthusiasts to ever appear in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent, but they are incorrect. We saw a second-generation Transporter in a Colorado yard last year, and now here’s a third-generation model currently residing in a South Carolina facility.

The T3 Transporter first appeared in the United States as a 1980 model, and it was badged as the Vanagon. This name was a mashup of “van” and “wagon,” which followed decades of VW stubbornly pitching its passenger vans as station wagons (to be fair, Detroit did the same thing with its passenger vans). When Toyota attempted to sell an Americanized version of the MasterAce Surf with “Van Wagon” badges here for 1984, Volkswagen’s lawyers forced them to change the name to, simply, the Toyota Van.

Gasoline-fueled Vanagons had air-cooled engines until well into 1983 (water-cooled diesels with 49 mighty horsepower were available in the Vanagon for 1982 and 1983), but we can see a radiator in the snout of this van. What’s the deal?

The build tag says it started life in Hanover, West Germany as a 1982 model with the 2.0-liter gasoline-burner, so it must have had a Wasserboxer swap later on. I saw an ’81 Vanagon with a similar swap in Colorado a few months back.

The engine was grabbed by a junkyard shopper before I arrived.

Unusually, this van has the optional automatic transmission. The water-cooled VW engines most likely to have been swapped into this van made well below 100 horsepower and the curb weight is close to 3,100 pounds, so this machine would have been very, very slow to accelerate.

Jim Hudson is still selling new cars in Columbia, though not Volkswagens these days.

It turns out that the Vanagon shares its wheel bolt pattern with that of the Mercedes-Benz W123. There’s just one of these wheels installed, but it looks cool.

It’s not rusty and the interior probably wasn’t too bad in its pre-junkyard-arrival state, but the cost to restore one of these vans can be prohibitive.

Essentially a European luxury car. You’d want to avoid hills with a diesel Vanagon and a load of seven passengers.

The Vanagon was all about performance.

The room of a van. The comfort of a station wagon. There’s a crafty dig at Detroit’s recently downsized wagons in this commercial.

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