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Hey guys, I'll warn you up front that prior to last month, I'd never even driven a VW. My daughter is turning 15 and wanted a Jetta. I found one that we've been fixing up together, but along the way we've been learning as much as we can about VWs. We've watched a lot of YouTube (because she's 15) and I started to notice a LOT of mentions about Rabbits. I wasn't in the market at all for another car, but I happened to be looking at a local FB yardsale page yesterday when I saw a listing for a 1984 Rabbit convertible for $500! So, I went over this morning to look at it. It hasn't been moved since 2016. The guy knew NOTHING about it. He was even wrong about the year. It's a 1981 and has less than 200k miles. It's a mess inside because the roof was shredded, but I ended up grabbing it for $300! The title says it is a "Rabbit Deluxe" and there's "Neuspeed" written in the engine bay and on the back. I can't find much about "Neuspeed" online. I'd really like some help. What did I just buy, here? Any suggestions from you experts on how you'd restore this? Thanks for any help you can give me!
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Well Lloyd you have just purchased one of the finest example of German Engineering designed to suck your wallet and bank account dry.
Cabriolet 2 Door Rabbit.

Well that is kinda hard to take I am sure. 200K on its gasser engine, Could be a troublesome little devil or they could have taken good acre of the timing belt and the fuel injection system and you are going to love riding in it. Then again, finding a new top is going to cost you as much or more than the car did.

Take heart, the engine bay looks good, Look at that alternator! Did someone just put that in there? Hoses look dirty but solid, won't know until you warm it up and put some pressure on them.
The Neuspeed item is an add on. Suspension strength across the top of the strut towers. Those look clean and not rusted. Super bonus there pal.

Good on the chrome bumpers, no parts missing, Front grill in great shape and may have been modified too. Not sure on that, don't pay much attention to Gassers.

Snowflake rims a bonus, how are the tires? 14 inch ride better than 13's The car was a getter in it's day. Might give the Jetta some competion in a way.

Tough to start without a battery but I wouldn't do that right off the bat anyway. Been sitting too long. You need to drain fluids first then turn the engine over by hand to get pistons free. Pull the bolt of the flange on the bottom of the distributor and put a screwdriver tip on an extension and get that in a drill and spin the oil pump some to get it up to the valve cover, and through the engine.

Buy a case of that clear coat repair spray in a can and preserve the paint before it weathers any more. Plan to sand and repaint next spring. Your daughter is going to learn a bunch of life skills. #1 How to stay on budget, #2 How to keep fingernails clean after wrenching with dad all day. ...

Can't really see interior but dash isn't cracked so a good cleaning and detailing will do wonders for the car. I would pull the seats out and pull the carpet to be sure mold is not lurking there. Easy to power wash on the concrete and let hang to dry in the sun. Look for rust on the floorboards. Nothing there? PHEW, that really takes the worry out of things, Look in the spare tire hole for rust and leaks.

Love the color, not sure if I would go with a black or white top. Save your pennies, The build you are working on is worth everyone. That car will last her till she is 35 if it is in decent condition today.

Best of luck with it.
 

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Well Lloyd you have just purchased one of the finest example of German Engineering designed to suck your wallet and bank account dry.
Cabriolet 2 Door Rabbit.

Well that is kinda hard to take I am sure. 200K on its gasser engine, Could be a troublesome little devil or they could have taken good acre of the timing belt and the fuel injection system and you are going to love riding in it. Then again, finding a new top is going to cost you as much or more than the car did.

Take heart, the engine bay looks good, Look at that alternator! Did someone just put that in there? Hoses look dirty but solid, won't know until you warm it up and put some pressure on them.
The Neuspeed item is an add on. Suspension strength across the top of the strut towers. Those look clean and not rusted. Super bonus there pal.

Good on the chrome bumpers, no parts missing, Front grill in great shape and may have been modified too. Not sure on that, don't pay much attention to Gassers.

Snowflake rims a bonus, how are the tires? 14 inch ride better than 13's The car was a getter in it's day. Might give the Jetta some competion in a way.

Tough to start without a battery but I wouldn't do that right off the bat anyway. Been sitting too long. You need to drain fluids first then turn the engine over by hand to get pistons free. Pull the bolt of the flange on the bottom of the distributor and put a screwdriver tip on an extension and get that in a drill and spin the oil pump some to get it up to the valve cover, and through the engine.

Buy a case of that clear coat repair spray in a can and preserve the paint before it weathers any more. Plan to sand and repaint next spring. Your daughter is going to learn a bunch of life skills. #1 How to stay on budget, #2 How to keep fingernails clean after wrenching with dad all day. ...

Can't really see interior but dash isn't cracked so a good cleaning and detailing will do wonders for the car. I would pull the seats out and pull the carpet to be sure mold is not lurking there. Easy to power wash on the concrete and let hang to dry in the sun. Look for rust on the floorboards. Nothing there? PHEW, that really takes the worry out of things, Look in the spare tire hole for rust and leaks.

Love the color, not sure if I would go with a black or white top. Save your pennies, The build you are working on is worth everyone. That car will last her till she is 35 if it is in decent condition today.

Best of luck with it.
Well, Mr. Coaster... you've just helped me more than you could possibly imagine. I sincerely cannot thank you enough! I pulled the battery before towing it to my house. I don't want to do anything until I've drained everything. Is it really true that I need to buy 20W-50 oil and 80 Weight transmission fluid for this? I have been to three auto parts stores and nobody carries oil that thick. I'm dumbfounded.

I have new plugs, which according to the imaculate owners manual still in the glove box, need to be gapped to .28 (which I am currently in the middle of doing.) The tires seem fine. The dash is in great--albeit dusty--shape. I actually removed the entire softtop assembly and roof. The carpet was filthy and moldy so I am pulling all of that out. Honestly, when I get it to crank (which I hope will be tomorrow) I think it could be so fun to drive.

Again, I cannot thank you enough for answering SO many questions and being so helpful! Waiting on the pictures to upload...
 

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I really got a kick out of these old cans I found under the seat! And, yes, I'm very surprised the dash isn't cracked and there's not more rust! I know it's been in a field for almost 5 years. I do believe that moisture is what made the carpet so unbearably moldy and caused so much corrosion in the fuse box. That's my focus now. Even if I get oil and take the replacement battery off the charger, none of it will matter if I've got a bad connection. I see two suspicious spots under the hood and obviously the fuse box is a dumpster fire. I don't know if it's something I can salvage...
 

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Nice. two sites to know.
www.cabby-info.com all things cabby.

The vin number should be decoded, as for a 80 rabbit vert, which is how it should of been badged had a different dash.

The wheels aren't original to the rabbit vert. So some owners have done a bit of creative swapping.

I have a plethora of how-to's here. Never-Seize all bolts and nuts going back.
Start with the pressurewasher, and take one thing at a time.
Electrical,
Engine
Transmission
Brakes
Cooling.

I would flush and black flush the cooling system, verify that the radiator fan is running, and that the switch in the lower radiator is good.
 
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Fuse Box Priority 1. Looks like you need to head to Harbor Freight and get that mombo sized box of connectors, or at least the assortment with 150 peices in it. Some serious voltage draws on those red wires. Those are normally the ones for the ignition and carry heavy current loads. Thus the melting of the insulation. Lots of corrosion to deal with. Not just on the connectors you can see but those screwed to the body in other areas, like the fenders and up on the firewall above the fuse box. Yeah, kind of a pain to work up in there. Get the nimble daughters arms up in there.

I would attack one system at a time and be in no hurry to get it running. It has been sitting for close to 4 years right what is the hurry?

Once I got the electrical stuff going, lights and blinkers and fans all check out, wipers, horn. All the safety things. then I would go for the brakes. My reasoning is that it doesn't need to move forward until you know it will stop.

Then engine which means flushing fluids, radiator and heater core need new antifreeze mix. I don't want to hear it is the middle or end of July and you don't need antifreeze. It is also an antiboil fluid and that my friend it more important to you now. These engines have a bad lineage for heating that aluminum head up and popping the head gasket. You really don't need to learn that just yet. You may so enough for other reasons. Like the PO didn't tell you it blew a gasket.
Oh he didn't know anything of the car you said in another message here.

Oil, I use Rotella 15W-40 in the gallon jug. Walmart and autoparts sell in for about 15 bucks a gallon. Pick up a filter or two as well. Did you already flush the brakes? That fluid, if you don't know picks up moisture and becomes a problem when you are getting on the brakes when you are having fun driving it. Soak the bleeders for days in penetrating oil before attempting to bleed the brakes. Flush them well, buy an quart and use it all on the flush, it is cheap insurance.

Cans of starting fluid hiding under the seat is a tell tale sign that the compression is poor on the engine in my experience. You will be doing a compression check with your engine check. Then maybe a head gasket. Dang.

All this work is going to seriously impact the amount of time you will be working on the Jetta. Best make a pack with the daughter. Two hours on your car for every hour of work on hers.

Change the oil in the transmission with some synthetic 90W not sure what part of the country you are in but that convertible is really chilly in the winter in ND. Kind of a summer sports car really.
 

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Thanks again everyone for all the help! I spent most of last night cleaning the fuze box and scraping rust off of everything the best I could. I bought the connectors you suggested, Coaster and was glad I did! I flushed everything this morning and invested in a new battery while fluids were draining. I refilled everything and put in new plugs... but then realized that the connectors on the old plugs were thin and almost threaded. Like, ribbed. So, rather than go back to the store for new wires just yet, I cleaned the old plugs and put them back in. I the fuze box put in with my new connectors, put in some fresh gas, and listened for the "whirring" of the fuel pump when I turned the key. I had cranked the engine by hand (as suggested) and then with the new oil, it turned over but wouldn't fire. I pumped the pedal a few times and hit it with some starting fluid. It coughed and sputtered a few times, then died.

I put the seats in the back of the truck and took them to the car wash to blast them clean, came home,
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went inside and had a glass of water, came back out and tried again. SHE STARTED!!!

It ran pretty rough at first. I'm sure I need a new fuel filter, injectors, and maybe more... but I put it in gear and we were off! I just took it around the block a few times, then out onto a main road where I could cycle through gears a little more. I never went past 3rd, but it was driving really well! It didn't die when it went to idle, but it does run rough. I can get headlights, middle lights, brake lights, and 3/4 blinkers to work. For some reason the left rear blinkers, brake light, and reverse light aren't working, even after trying new bulbs.

Also, none of the lighting on the dash works. The radio doesn't work. The instrument panel is all dead (except for blinkers and wiper levers. Also light switches work.)

Anyway... all said and done, I think it was a great first day and I owe a lot of it to you guys! Thanks again for all the help. I started to get an idea of what this would be like to drive, and my youngest daughter is already claiming it, lol!
 

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Nice. two sites to know.
www.cabby-info.com all things cabby.

The vin number should be decoded, as for a 80 rabbit vert, which is how it should of been badged had a different dash.

The wheels aren't original to the rabbit vert. So some owners have done a bit of creative swapping.

I have a plethora of how-to's here. Never-Seize all bolts and nuts going back.
Start with the pressurewasher, and take one thing at a time.
Electrical,
Engine
Transmission
Brakes
Cooling.

I would flush and black flush the cooling system, verify that the radiator fan is running, and that the switch in the lower radiator is good.
Thanks, Briano! I appreciate it. Can you specify what "black flush" the cooling system is? I just drained the old coolant, filled and flushed with water several times, then refilled with fresh coolant. I'm spending a lot of time on that cabby-info so thanks for the tip! Any suggestions on where to buy a replacement soft top for cheap?
 

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I have a thread on here as to how I flush and back flush the cooling system it is in the DIY's.
Soft top plus all 3 layers is about 400-6 there is a how do i do that here as well.
Back flushing the heater core will get you all the heat you could ever want and you can burn your but out on these.

There isn't a lot of difference between the Foam pad and the Horse hair save for price.
I wouls also suggest that you change the rubber hoses from the hard lines to the rear wheel cylinders as well as the Calipers.
Caliper rebuild kits are fairly cheap.

The 80 cabbies had single solid rotors, but you can get the Vented ones, just be sure to get Vented rotor pads, the 83 GTI rabbit has the proper pads just look for the vented.
The Run a separate ground for the rears and attach them to the rear bumper bolts at the bottom of the sides of the trunk.
Its usually bad grounds or loose connectors.
 

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Your daughter may be researching items about the Cabby you don't know about. Like the fact that a young lady in that car equals GUY MAGNET. And with the top down there is no way to keep the guys from just jumping in!

You may have bought more than just a car from the barn. Looks good though and glad it actually starts. Compression may be low on a cylinder or two but could have been the sit and old fuel that stopped it from starting the first time and running rough now.
 

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These are good resources. The Rabbit was a Golf everywhere else in the world.


 

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My wife has a 1987 Cabriolet. Parts are hard to acquire. If you haven't purchased a "Bentley" repair manual do so. It has a lot of detail on trouble shooting and how to's. Best manual I ever purchased. When the car is done and running they are fun. Wife's is a 5 spd. Upgraded to better struts including "Bilstein".
 

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Make sure it is a "service manual". I looked at swap meets and VW shows. Found one for $5. Looked like new.
 
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