Marketing Material: 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup Ad
Chances are that you or someone you’ve known has owned a pickup truck. There’s also a pretty good chance (especially if you’ve been around since the 1980s or before) that you or someone you’ve known has owned a Volkswagen Rabbit.
But how about both–in one vehicle?
By the late 1970s in the US, many domestic and Japanese brands had entered the small-pickup segment. For 1980, the Germans gave it a go with this new truck based on a Rabbit. And, as with the Rabbit, power was delivered to the front wheels.
Despite the uniqueness of VW’s cargo-hauler, its name was anything but. With few exceptions until the 1990s, trucks weren’t typically granted the honor of being christened with more than an alpha-numeric designation. There seemed to be no shame in marketing the working-man’s mechanical companion as just “truck”.
Although Chevrolet and Ford had named their compact trucks (Luv and Courier, respectively), Volkswagen went with just plain old Pickup for its new concoction. It is also commonly referred to as the “Rabbit Pickup” for obvious reasons.
VW’s ad describes their new Pickup as “something else” in an effort to sell its car-like driving behavior, and even alludes to sportiness. Despite sporty overtones in the pitch, the vehicle was apparently horsepower-challenged. From what I could find, the gasoline engine delivered around 65 HP while the diesel version generated around 50. (I’ll update this if I come across more accurate figures.)
Even though that isn’t a whole lot of power, the vehicle didn’t have the lumbering mass of traditional, larger trucks. And, for the weekend warrior or small business needing to deliver goods locally, its grunt was probably sufficient.
Volkswagen sold the Rabbit Pickup for model years 1980 through 1983–in the US. It has continued selling in other parts of the world in which it is marketed as the Caddy.
Today’s Caddy shares roughly half of its components with the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf (get it, “Golf” and “Caddy”?) and now sports a van-like shape, instead of the original’s open cargo bed. It is sold in various configurations, including those with rear furnishings for caddying people as well as cargo.
One last note on first-generation VW Rabbit pickups, like the one shown in the subject ad. In good (not even excellent) condition, they can command up to $10,000.
(Click the thumbnail below to see the complete ad in higher detail.)