CC Capsule: 1980 & 1981 Volkswagen Pickups – It’s Rabbit Season

For at least the past five years, the arrival of late spring in my neighborhood has brought with it an abundance of wild rabbits.  I’ve lived in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago’s north side for over a decade, but it’s possible I simply have never noticed them before now.  Somehow, though, I doubt it.  There seems to have been some sort of population boom over the past several years.  On the other hand, early VW Rabbits, in any configuration, continue to get scarcer.  I recall spotting just two in Chicago (out of five total) in the past four years – both of them pickups, or “Caddys” as known in other markets.

I spotted the fine, earlier model above in my neighborhood just a couple of years ago.  I wish I could find a vintage t-shirt in the same colors as this one – yellow with orange and brown graphics, as I would wear it all the time.  Many actual rabbits in this neighborhood seem to possess a certain fearlessness one would not expect from such creatures.  Also, and like many birds around this area, it’s almost as if the rabbits have become just comfortable enough with human life to let you get within a few feet of them before they dart off.

Similarly, in the silence of this street, this Rabbit pickup seemed to possess a frozen calm, street-parked in front of this old, two-story house.  It just wasn’t going to dart off.  Actually, none of these Rabbit pickups were exactly capable of “darting” anywhere.  With just 78 hp on tap from a 1.6L, gas-powered, four-cylinder engine (which was the more powerful mill, with the diesel putting out just 48 hp), one of these little couriers would seem better suited for carrying bulky, lightweight items than doing even moderate lifting.  I’m thinking this would be the ideal hauler for that occasional run to IKEA or Costco.

I spotted this later-model, red example not far from Wrigley Field.  I’m no stranger to the general consensus at CC that the readership prefers their vehicles bone-stock (as do I, speaking in very general terms), but let’s give this example some of the love it deserves.  I don’t know why, but something about the general contrast between the red paint and the aqua rims shod with low-profile tires reminds me of a soccer shoe.  Even moreso than the yellow model, the red one exudes a colorful, cheery, fun, sporty vibe that seems to suit the basic character of these mini-trucks.  These two examples seem to complement each other like ketchup and mustard.

As to which one I prefer, I tend to love all things vintage and original, so I’d have to give the nod to the yellow one, which seems pretty darned close to the perfect, quirky 1980-mobile.  I would not, however, kick the festive-looking red one out of my hypothetical, paid and covered parking space.  As far as rabbits in the wild go, I’ve never had a pet rabbit, I don’t have a garden, nor have I ever eaten hasenpfeffer, but the ones in my neighborhood are awfully cute.  I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a few VW Rabbits around shortly after this piece runs, given that the CC Effect seems to have been pretty strong so far in 2017…

Actual rabbit seen in Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  Yellow rabbit pickup spotted in Edgewater on Saturday, March 5, 2016.  Red rabbit spotted in Wrigleyville on Sunday, May 25, 2014.

Related reading from Dave Skinner: Curbside Classic: 1980 Volkswagen Pickup- Beating the tariff, but taking a beating.