Build or Buy: Baja 500 Diesel Rabbit Race Truck

So you want to race in the Baja 500. Who doesn’t? While any old 4Runner or Rail Buggy would work, you want something a little different. And do we have something different today: a Rabbit Pickup Offroad Racer. But you are faced with the eternal car-enthusiast question: do you build one yourself, or do you buy it built?

Option A: Build It Yourself
Article: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel Pickup

The Rabbit Pickup was a bit of an odd bird, err, hare. It was all Rabbit from the B-pillar forward, but it was all compact pickup from the B-pillar back. Yes, it retained its front-wheel-drive setup. No, all-wheel-drive was not available. Yes, it was still unibody construction.

While all this seems weird today, back in the ’80s there was a solid market for small, economical trucks. And Volkswagen delivered with the gas-sipping pick ’em up. This particular Caddy (as these were known outside of North America) has the tough-as-nails diesel engine, although it may or may not be working.

Despite the engine issue, this appears to be a solid little truck. There’s no rust, all the body panels are straight (save for a dent in the tailgate), and it even has some snazzy aftermarket wheels. It looks like a great candidate for an engine swap and a suspension lift.

So if you’re looking to build your own wacky offroad racer, take a look at the classified ad for this ’81 Rabbit Pickup on It’s in Salado, TX, and the seller is asking $1750.

Option B: Buy It Built
Article: 1981 Volkswagen Diesel Pickup

Now, you’re probably thinking “A diesel FWD unibody car for offroad racing!?” And you’re right, it does sound nuts. But if you look through the lengthy description in the classified ad, you’ll find the average speed during a Baja race is only 27 MPH. And a diesel Caddy can definitely make it to 27 MPH (not quickly, mind you, but it can).

Know what else is interesting? They’ve already raced this truck several times. This little Bunny has gotten all the green lights from officials, so you are buying a turn-key racer.

And for $20,000 you’re getting a highly modified truck. We won’t try to capture all the details here, but it’s a solid set up.

So if you’re itching to race, take a look at the craigslist ad for this ’81 Caddy. The truck is in Denver, CO.

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