The VW Rabbit got a boost in power in its 1981 diesel engine. The 1.6-liter engine put out 52 horsepower, an increase of four horsepower over the previous year. This diesel engine got 45 miles to the gallon.
The Rabbit Diesel was available as a two- or four-door hatchback, truck or convertible. It came standard with MacPherson struts, disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel suspension and a radio.
The 1981 Rabbits were built in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. At the time, this was the first plant to make "foreign" cars. The plant produced the cars through 1982. The Rabbit truck was no longer sold in the U.S. after 1982.
The Volkswagen Rabbit was the replacement for the Beetle in the United States. The Rabbit Diesel was an option in cars and small trucks that were built and sold in the U.S. starting in 1979. Most Rabbit trucks had the diesel engine, but just a few of the cars used diesel.