Rabbit was produced from 1976 to 1984, initially in Germany
, but later (1979 and later) models were also built in Pennsylvania
. Originally intended to compete with Japan
ese subcompact cars that were taking America by storm in the wake of the 70s fuel shortages, the Rabbit's front-wheel drive
brought the car into its own.
The Pennsylvania Rabbits came in several flavors: from 1980 to 1983, it was available in two-door, four-door, soft-top convertible, and pickup truck models, most of which were available in both gas and diesel engines. (Most of the trucks sold were diesel, most of the traditional cars were gas.) They also came in both manual and automatic transmission variants, and several sizes of engines were available, ranging from 1.5 to 1.9 liters. (Not everything was available for every car, obviously, but there were a lot of different combinations.) Just about the only thing they had in common was square headlights, which differentiated them from their German counterparts.
After 1984, the Rabbit Convertible was known as the Cabriolet, and the VW Golf used many parts from the Rabbit assembly line until it was discontinued in 1993. This just shows the long life and versatility of the original design.
My 1981 VW Rabbit is pretty much a Volkswagen lover's dream car - as long as it's properly maintained (regular oil changes, fluid checks, and so on), it just keeps on rolling. (Aside from the odometer, which seems to be a common problem in older Rabbits...) I'd estimate it has well over 100,000 miles, and it's still quite reliable.
The Rabbit was the first foreign car manufactured in the United States. Though they weren't produced in the New Stanton, Pennsylvania plant after 1985, it's still possible to get a new Rabbit -- known as the A1, the Rabbit is still being manufactured in South Africa.
I'm obliged to point out that, just a few short days after noding this, the aforementioned VW Rabbit suffered another breakdown. Darn irony.