1980 VW Rabbit LX Pickup, 1.9L TDI swap

Auction sold at $17,500


Lot # 137
Seller: dparady
Location: United States
VIN: 17A0907167
Miles: 66,800
Engine: 1.9L TDI
Transmission: 5spd
Private/Dealer: Private Party
Category: Customs Trucks

The Seller purchased this truck about two years ago from one of his customers.  As a  VW enthusiast, restorer and owner of many, including a caddy when he was in college, he always wanted to find another one to restore.  This truck has always been in the southwest, no rust, and the undercarriage is in excellent condition.  That said, there was a small crease just behind the driver’s side rear wheel with some surface rust since it had been sitting outside for many years.

The truck was completely stripped of all trim, bumpers, windows, door windows, vent windows, etc.  The original 1.5l diesel engine and transmission was pulled, and all engine compartment items removed.  He had the truck blasted by a local, well established, body man who knows how to clean the cars without the body panel warping that can come if you don’t do it right.  The only body panel that was replaced was the hood as it had too much surface rust to be repaired, but he does have the original hood if the buyer wants it.

The truck was then painted with PPG paint, two stage, back to the original Mojave Beige throughout.  The bed of the truck was in excellent condition with no damage.  The bed was finished with a rhino liner type material, but was color coded to the same Mojave beige, and came out looking amazing.

The original 48hp diesel was not going to be enough HP for this restoration and the seller wanted more.  He decided that a TDI would be more appropriate for this caddy and purchased a 2003 TDI Beetle as a donor car and removed the engine and 5spd transmission, along with the wiring harnesses, ECM, gas pedal, complete shifting assembly and cables, and other required items for the swap.  After a great deal of research, he found S-P Automotive had a great swap package and all the accompanying items needed to do the swap.

For the TDI motor, he removed the EGR equipment and installed a new PD150 intake manifold, which was on the German MK1’s and provides a much better flow.  He also replaced the timing belt, tensioner, water pump, fluids for the engine and transmission, as well as oil and fuel filter.  In addition, he added an external fuel pump and an inline filter at the tank to make sure there was plenty of pressure.  The ECM was reprogrammed to work with the truck but was also updated and power was boosted up to a level that did not require additional engine work. To assist with the TDI engine, he also installed an aluminum combo radiator/intercooler and all the required intercooler tubing, as well as a new intake pipe, MAF sensor, and K&N filter.

The wiring incorporates the new ECM wiring to control the engine, and the original truck wiring for the lights, ignition, and gauges.  The ECM work also added the required wiring to use with the stock gauges on the truck, as well as adding option wiring for a tach, cruise control, etc.  Also, the ECM comes with the wiring and new plug for the donor gas pedal to be incorporated into the truck.  This swaps the mechanical gas pedal for the original motor to the drive-by-wire pedal out of the donor car.  Another bracket to mount is available from S-P.

The exhaust was set up with a stainless down tube that adapts the new ALH engine, but is shaped to incorporate into the MK1 body.  Attached to it is a 2.5″ complete exhaust system with a Magnaflow muffler. Looks similar to stock but is much more efficient.

The front end was completely rebuilt and has all new components. New steering rack bushings, new tie rod’s, new control arms with new bushings, and new hub’s with all new seals.  A set of Solowerks coilovers were attached to the hubs, and then upgraded to vented discs, with new calipers, brake pads, lines and master cylinder.

The rear end had the same treatment as the front.  He installed drop plates to allow for a lower stance matched to the front end.  All new brakes including drums, bearings, brake shoes, brake cylinders, spring kits, brake lines, and a new set of air shocks.

Other exterior items include both front and rear bumpers being powder coated black, new front grille, new hella turn signal lenses in the front bumper, all trim removed except for the lower rocker panel trim, painted black.  New front windshield seal, as well as new seal for the rear window.  New wiper arms and wiper blades.

Original GTI Snowflake wheels were completely redone, polished and painted, interior side of the wheels were painted, new black lug caps, center caps, with everything looking better than new.

The electrical system has been gone through and a new fuse panel was installed for additional reliability.  All gauges, lights, door switches for the dome light, the clock in the dash, signals, and high beams work perfectly.  The Seller did install two additional switches into extra spots in the dash. One is an original MK1 fog light switch which controls the reverse lights for the truck.  Due to one of the swap brackets, the reverse switch on the transmission is not accessible so he needed added a  switch for the reverse lights.  The other switch was to control the additional fuel pump. Both switches are OEM and are in the original switch locations in the dash.

The entire interior has been switched from the original brown interior to black.  The black dash is immaculate with no cracks and no damage.  All dash trim is immaculate, and the radio is working with the dash speaker.  The door panels, arm rests, wiper lever, turn signal indicator and steering column cover were purchased to match the dash, and an original GTI steering wheel topped off the black interior.  New carpets and headliner were installed and to provide better support, refurbished Scirocco sport seats finished off the interior.

Although this was a non AC truck the seller did install a brand new AC compressor and condenser although did not install the lines and or connectors.  It would be very easy for the next owner to finalize the AC install if wanted.

To top off the interior/exterior restoration, both doors received a set of Cabriolet vent window frames with the bolt through glass, new vent window seals, new door seals, new door window scrapers, and door trim. New door latches, door jamb pins, new door handles, and new door mirrors were also installed.

The Seller is a true enthusiast and this VW will not disappoint.  The truck has a clean CA title with current registration through May 2021.


Auction Result

High Bid $17,500 By Jalen0
Auction Ended Sep. 28 at 9:37 am U.S. Pacific.
Ends In
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Total Bids Placed:

Auction has expired

Auction started September 28, 2020 9:36 AM
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HNT Motors

What a great shop truck this could be. Might have to pull the trigger.


Just stumbled onto this pickup, very cool.


This would make a great little shop truck. Some cool cars on this site. I am bidding the 3.0 but will be keeping my eye on this.


This is something different.


Another site where you can see cool and unusual cars/trucks on. Looks like a great build here. Not in the market but still fun to watch.


dparady, do you know what the HP/TQ specs are on this new motor installed? Seems like it has a good get up and go from the video.


I love this truck. Seller, quick question on the interior, one of the photos shows the carpet looking unfinished or missing something in the passenger side lower right??


Just saw this and it is very cool. Seller, will a 6’3″ driver fit with the seat up against the rear window?


I know the seller of this car and have bought other VW’s from him. He is a great guy and his attention to detail is second to none. You will not be disappointed.


Not a VW guy but this is interesting. Might have to bid for my son.


This is something different and you don’t see everyday.


This is very cool. Nice work on the swap Seller.