Fifty Miles Per Gallon Or Bust: 1981 VW Rabbit Diesel Vs 1989 Geo Metro

volkswagen rabbit diesel

Good morning, car enthusiasts! Have you ever wished for a car that could give you fifty miles per gallon? Well, today we’re going to dive into the past and explore two options from yesteryear that might just fulfill that wish. In this edition of Shitbox Showdown, we will compare the 1981 VW Rabbit Diesel and the 1989 Geo Metro. So, buckle up and let’s find out if these little hatchbacks can meet the magical 50 MPG figure and still stay within budget.

1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel – $1,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.6 liter diesel inline 4, 4-speed manual, FWD
Location: Bellingham, WA
Odometer reading: unknown
Runs/drives? Almost, but not quite

Let’s start with the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel. This little gem from the Westmoreland-era is surprisingly clean and rust-free, which is a rarity these days. It has the signature square headlights that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it gives the car a distinct, nostalgic charm. The best part is that this Rabbit has remained stock, untouched by modern-day “tuners.” So, if you’re into preserving the original look and feel of a classic VW, this might be the one for you.

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Now, let’s talk about the mechanical condition. The seller mentions that the car runs, but it does require some work. The injection pump needs rebuilding, and the battery is dead. However, once fixed, this VW Rabbit Diesel has the potential to rack up a bazillion miles. These cars are known for their durability, and with a diesel engine, you can also explore the world of biodiesel if that’s your thing. The early Rabbit/Scirocco/Jettas are also fun to drive, even with the slower diesel motor. For just $1,000, it’s worth considering bringing this classic back to life.

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1989 Geo Metro – $2,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.0 liter inline 3, 5-speed manual, FWD
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Odometer reading: 144,000 miles
Runs/drives? Yep

If you’re willing to spend a little more, we have the 1989 Geo Metro. These three-cylinder wonders have been the subject of many jokes over the years, but when it comes to fuel efficiency, they have the last laugh. With rising gas prices, these tiny cars emerge from the depths and are surprisingly durable. This particular Metro, being a California car, is free from the rust issues that plague older vehicles in other parts of the country.

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The seller bought this Metro to learn how to drive a stick, which is an honorable endeavor. Now that they’ve mastered the art, it’s time to pass it on to someone who can appreciate its true value. Overall, the car is in good condition, considering its age. With a little bit of cleaning and some minor cosmetic touch-ups, it can look pretty great. The Metro’s Suzuki three-cylinder engine has a good reputation for reliability, although it was made for a time when traffic was less congested and slower-paced. It might struggle to keep up with today’s traffic demands, but as an affordable city runabout, it’s a solid option.

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So, there you have it: two options to save money at the pump and on the purchase. Which one would you choose? The nostalgic appeal of the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel or the reliable and efficient 1989 Geo Metro?


  • Q: Are these cars still available for sale?

    • A: The availability of these specific cars may change over time. It’s always best to check local listings or contact the sellers directly for the most up-to-date information.
  • Q: Can I modify these cars to improve their performance?

    • A: Both the Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel and the Geo Metro have enthusiast communities that offer various modifications to enhance performance. However, it’s important to research and consider the potential effects on reliability and fuel efficiency before making any modifications.
  • Q: Are these cars suitable for long road trips?

    • A: Both cars can handle long road trips, but their smaller size and lower horsepower may require more planning and patience when traveling long distances. It’s recommended to test-drive the cars and assess your comfort level before embarking on extended journeys.
  • Q: Can these cars run on alternative fuels?

    • A: The Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel is already set up for biodiesel, offering an option for environmentally conscious drivers. As for the Geo Metro, it’s important to research and consult with experts to determine if alternative fuel options are suitable for the specific model and its engine.
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In conclusion, the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel and the 1989 Geo Metro offer potential solutions for those seeking high fuel efficiency on a budget. Whether you prefer the classic charm of the Rabbit or the reliability of the Metro, both cars have the potential to save you money at the pump. So, if you’re ready to embark on a journey with a car that can achieve the magical 50 MPG, consider giving one of these options a try.

Remember, for all your car news and updates, make sure to visit Car news. Happy driving!