My 1975 VW Rabbit came home rejuvenated from the shop today. (As I wrote in an earlier post, restoring my 33-year-old Rabbit, which has been in my family since it was new, is the method I’ve chosen for achieving better gas mileage). Its main problem was that it had about a half-inch of rusty sludge in the bottom of the gas tank. This (and the underlying problem of water finding its way into the gas tank) had caused a variety of problems. The good people at the Independent Auto Werks in Corvallis cleaned the tank, blew out the fuel lines, did a partial rebuild of the carburetor (including replacing a clogged idle jet — no wonder it didn’t want to run!), and now the car is running better than it has in years, maybe decades.
An old Rabbit handles like an old-fashioned British sports car — stiff suspension, responsive steering, with a little engine but also very lightweight. They’re fun to drive but can carry a lot of stuff, though I’d take something bigger if I were making a special trip to the feed mill.
In a while I’ll take it down to the body shop run by one of my neighbors (G&R Body Shop in Philomath, Oregon) and see what it will take to get it prepped and painted.
So far, this project looks to be a lot cheaper and more fun than getting a newer subcompact economy car, and the gas mileage ought to be about the same as a new one. (Actually, this old Rabbit gets about 30 MPG, while a brand-new one only gets about 25 MPG). And it amuses me that the car I learned to drive on has gone from “new car” to “used car,” “old car,” “piece of junk,” and “collectible classic.”