Tuesday, March 21, 2017


This is the story of how we acquired our lucky rabbit, Freddie, this past Christmas and drove it over 1000 miles to our home in sunny Florida.

Last summer, my girlfriend and I were visiting family back home in PA, and we got to talking with her uncle about buying his Rabbit diesel. It had been in a somewhat sad state in his driveway for a few months since the front passenger strut had snapped due to rust. But it was a solid runner having been driven weekly and a new injection pump recently installed, so it had hope at only 160k miles on the clock. We agreed on a fair price and made a goal to pick it up in the fall.

I was able to get a nice set of snowflake wheels and struts from our local vdub pal Shaggy, who had just recently lowered his GTI and had no need for the wheels or struts anymore. They had good tires so that was perfect for us, Freddie's tires were rotted pretty bad and I didnt want to risk it. I shipped the struts to a great local Euro mechanic in PA where her uncle had the car towed for us. Another box full of goodies from MK1 Autohaus was sent up to make the car safe for the journey, including brake lines, tie rod ends, ball joints and control arms. So Freddie was ready to go, he just needed us to bring up the new set of wheels on our next visit, which we did in November during Thanksgiving. The car sat at her parents house, patiently for its big journey at Christmas time.

We planned a route slightly different than our usual route to Florida, to avoid some traffic and find a nice town to stay in. We chose Roanoke, which looked like our kind of place. All that was left to do was wait for Christmas. It seemed like forever, but when it finally came, we couldn't have been more excited!

I gave it a quick cleaning to get the mold off the plastics and pulled some of the spare parts out of the back. The mothball scent was very strong, but in the end it probably saved it from having the wires chewed by rodents. As I poked around, I found the usual features of an old rabbit, including substantially wet floors and a nice nest near the blower motor. I had a lot of work to make it nice inside, but I knew once it made it down, I could work my detailing magic. I forced myself to vacuum it and stop there. Time to load the bags and relax and wait for morning.

It was a cold morning when we left. Freddie had a lot of dust to shake off. The clutch chattered, the exhaust rattled, steering column rattled, and well, the whole car rattled really. But it had heat!

We got around 44mpg the first few tanks. Our goal was to make it from PA to our hotel room in Roanoke in one day, and we did. Time to unpack and see downtown.

We had a few drinks and amazing burgers at Jack Brown's, highly recommended if you ever are in town. We retired early and woke up the next morning ready to complete our trip.

Our first stop in the morning was for coffee and bagels of course.

The views leaving Roanoke were a nice break from the boring interstate.

Sadly, due to holiday travel traffic, we had to take many long routes off the interstates to get around the backups. The view was nice, but we were running behind for sure, and I wasnt too thrilled to drive an untested car in the dark far away from home.

Night fell, and we made a VW friend from Canada. We stayed together for a few hours until we had to turn off I95 to I4. We waved goodbye and took a picture.

Many hours late, exhausted and near midnight, we made it back to our apartment in Orlando. I still can't believe we pulled this off without really driving the car after it came out of the shop. No major issues. It really is a lucky rabbit!

Over the next few weeks, I got the car cleaned up somewhat for Florida show season. One of our favorites was coming up fast, Eurotripper in Ft Myers. The interior had potential, so I spent a few days on that. The outside we are still working on, but it looks good after a wash haha. We just intend to drive it, so I'm not too worried.

Eurotripper finally came. We had a great time seeing our friends from Orlando and other places. We even made a few new ones. (See special coverage of that event on 35mm here.)

We booked our hotel for that night at Siesta Key. We left the show a little early and headed up the gulf coast. It was so nice to reward ourselves with all our hard work, money and time to get this car down here. There will be many more memories to come in this great, rusty, slow little car.

A special thanks to family, friends and the VW community for making this ongoing adventure possible!

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