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Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible
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hylomatt Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:31 pm    Post subject: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

I just bought an 81 rabbit convertible this weekend. She's nice, garage kept, old but not worn out. I've been an air-cooled guy since I was in high-school but I really wanted a rabbit for some reason. I'll be getting to know all the ins and outs soon, what with the manuals I purchased beforehand. And the guys in the water-cooled section for that matter.

If anyone would like to offer an sage advice for a water-cooled newbie, I'm listening. Or just offer an opinion of what you think of her.

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oprn
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:26 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

It's junk, give me a call and I will dispose of it properly for you!

Seriously though that is a nice find. I had an '81 turbo diesel that just would not die. The interior was pretty junky (looked better but fell apart) compared to my '76 (which I still have) and the body finally succumbed to the salt slush.

My understanding was that '81 was the first year for the North American built Rabbits but like the convertible Beetle, the convertible Rabbit still came from the mother land and retained that German quality.

It always makes me chuckle to see AC on a convertible and convertible owners driving around on a nice warm summer day with the top and windows all buttoned up tight! Rolling Eyes I feel like stopping them and saying "You picked the wrong car Buddy!"

So - put that top down and enjoy or I will for sure hunt you down and take it away!!!
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:19 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

oprn wrote:

It always makes me chuckle to see AC on a convertible and convertible owners driving around on a nice warm summer day with the top and windows all buttoned up tight!


It's great fun driving with the top down, until you realize just how deceiving that breezy drive in the summer sun is, you never know how cooked you are until it's waaaayyy too late.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:52 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

One of the best things about the A/C is keeping the damp windshield defrosted. Although it never really gets hot where I live, there are plenty of places that 100F+ is the norm. A/C would be ideal, convertible or not.

First thing I would want to do is replace those upper front strut mounts. If you do your own work, check the overall cost of the suspension parts and you will find they are fairly cheap. It may be worth it to replace all the wear items. Meyle and URO parts are cheap for a reason. I would stay away from them.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

TDCTDI wrote:
It's great fun driving with the top down, until you realize just how deceiving that breezy drive in the summer sun is, you never know how cooked you are until it's waaaayyy too late.

Oh ya! Don't we know it in our open Buggy but it doesn't stop us. Very Happy You soon learn how to prepare and dress for it. Even a 70* day will do it if it's sunny. Sun screen, sun glasses, a hat with a brim and long sleeved shirt and I am good for a 10 hour ride.

Oh and lip chap too! Don't forget those dry lips.

We get too few nice days here to waste them in a car with a roof.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:28 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

Congrats and enjoy! Very Happy

I have to say, though, I've always hated pinstriping like your new toy has. It looks so much better placed just above the side trim... IMHO.

oprn wrote:
It always makes me chuckle to see AC on a convertible and convertible owners driving around on a nice warm summer day with the top and windows all buttoned up tight! Rolling Eyes I feel like stopping them and saying "You picked the wrong car Buddy!"


Try driving around Phoenix at noon in August with the roof down... you'll probably change your mind right quick. Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 5:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

Thanks for the thoughts guys. Yeah the pinstriping. I don't feel any particular way about it. I just lends to the car feeling older I guess.

@Butcher, yeah I do all of my own work. Did you mean the upper strut bearings (I think they are called), or the struts themselves? I know the struts are new but the front end still feels a tad sloppy to me. I'm going to check the BJs too. Found some nice MOOG joints at Rock Auto, in case I need them. Never used URO, they seem cheap but I've definitely used Meyle plenty of times.

I just brought this home and am so new to this era that I'm still a little scared of what I could accidentally damage. I put gas in it (non-ethanol) and drove it around the yard. Need to get a tag before I can drive it on the road anywhere.

Yeah I can't wait to put the top down and have a nice drive. Love doing that with my Thing so I know this one will be great for that too.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

The mk1 cars were pretty flexible, then they lopped the top off. At the very least, make or buy a lower tie bar, the mounting horns for the A-arms is a well known failure point.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:00 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

@TDCTDI Can you link me to what you're talking about? Do you mean upper and lower strut bar supports, like the guys that get into racing them?

Like this? https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ultra-Racing-Front-Lower-...2059136291
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:31 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

I do believe that is what he meant. I can't see how the absence of the roof would weaken that part but many guys that competed with Rabbits did add that lower bar. There was one made for the top of the shock towers too. It kept the shock towers from moving in toward the center of the car.

I always intended to build and install both but it was a back burner project and I never really had a problem with it even though I ran it pretty hard at times. My buddy did though but I kept my shocks in good condition and he didn't.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:06 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

That particular bar would help but the factory style 16v Scirocco one is triangulated. In fact, if you look closely at the picture, you can see the Scirocco one behind it, making the add-on one redundant.

I made mine out of some 1Ē square tubing from one of the big box hardware stores.


oprn wrote:
I can't see how the absence of the roof would weaken that part ...


The lack of roof structure doesnít affect the A-arm points but it is a weak spot in the chassis. I have seen many mk1 cars junked because of fatigued sheet metal & having experienced it a few times myself, I always install one on any mk1 car that I get.

The lack of roof structure however, does cause LOTS of flex in the body. You can hit a bump & watch the dash move, side to side. This phenomenon gets worse as you stiffen the suspension (stiffer springs/shocks.). I had a cabby with a Bilstein cup kit on it & the body effectively became the suspension, the B-pillars would twist about an inch when the car would get crossed up in driveways.
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Last edited by TDCTDI on Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:18 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

kamzcab86 wrote:
oprn wrote:
It always makes me chuckle to see AC on a convertible and convertible owners driving around on a nice warm summer day with the top and windows all buttoned up tight! Rolling Eyes I feel like stopping them and saying "You picked the wrong car Buddy!"


Try driving around Phoenix at noon in August with the roof down... you'll probably change your mind right quick. Wink

You are totally correct about me not understanding. Living in a cold country that rarely gets over 80*F in August, drops down cold enough to freeze the tomatoes at night at least once before the September long weekend, I just don't get it.

And this morning as I start the truck to clear the windshield of ice and snow in an unusually warm temperature of -12 for this time of year (normal is -20), my sympathy is just not with you! Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:24 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

oprn wrote:
kamzcab86 wrote:
oprn wrote:
It always makes me chuckle to see AC on a convertible and convertible owners driving around on a nice warm summer day with the top and windows all buttoned up tight! Rolling Eyes I feel like stopping them and saying "You picked the wrong car Buddy!"


Try driving around Phoenix at noon in August with the roof down... you'll probably change your mind right quick. Wink

You are totally correct about me not understanding. Living in a cold country that rarely gets over 80*F in August, drops down cold enough to freeze the tomatoes at night at least once before the September long weekend, I just don't get it.

And this morning as I start the truck to clear the windshield of ice and snow in an unusually warm temperature of -12 for this time of year (normal is -20), my sympathy is just not with you! Smile


While looking equally ridiculous, itís fun to drive a cabby with the top down & the windows up with the heat on in the winter. There is just a light breeze over your head & the heat on keeps you toasty.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:25 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

@TDCTDI, how's this one then? https://techtonicstuning.com/main/index.php?main_p...hk0p42h8j5
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:55 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

hylomatt wrote:
@TDCTDI, how's this one then? https://techtonicstuning.com/main/index.php?main_p...hk0p42h8j5


That's the one.


You will probably need to drill holes for the rear legs but some of the later cars already had holes from the factory.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:26 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

@TDCTDI, sweet, I've ordered it. Thanks for the info.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:38 am    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

oprn wrote:
...my sympathy is just not with you! Smile


Look, sympathy is not needed; it's merely two opposite ends of temperature extremes that we are living in. You have no use for A/C, while I do (however, my Cabriolet ran out of R12 long ago, so it currently doesn't have working A/C). You'd never live in Phoenix; I'd never live in the Yukon.

There's a reason Phoenix/southern AZ swells with Canadians and snow-country Americans during the winter months... by May, they've all fled back home. There is also a reason many outdoor jobs break between 10am and 2pm during Phoenix summers. And, there is a reason why 90% of vehicles in Phoenix have tinted windows. Heat is one thing; being out in that heat with the afternoon sun beating down on you is quite another (nevermind the South dealing with humidity on top of the heat).

Top up or down, doesn't matter... they're fun cars to drive! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 5:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Just bought an 81 rabbit convertible Reply with quote

I'd love to follow the sun too. I wish I had been born rich instead of so darn good looking!
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