We’ve all been to summer car shows. Plenty of 50’, 60’s, 70’s VW air-cooled car and busses, American/European sports cars, v8 American cars & hot-rods, pickup trucks, British cars, even going back in time to early model T’s. All common at summer car shows. But surprisingly, I’ve never seen a 70’s water-cooled VW Rabbit at any car show. They were a pretty common car on the road at the time, now, nada., missing in action. In another discussion the Chevette was another in this class, popular at the time, now seemingly out of circulation. Are there other cars, common yesteryear, now seem to be missing from the car shows? Are the Rabbit and Chevette just not old enough for the car show circuit?
I have seen both on the car show circuit (winters for me, not summer!) but rarely. If you see a first generation Rabbit it is usually a GTI. If you see a Chevette, it usually has a supercharger sticking out the hood on a big V8 and huge rear tires.
These are bread-and-butter cars that make them throw-away. Also doesn’t help that they rust like a brake rotor parked at the beach. So even though they made millions, few bothered to save one or two because they don’t evoke warm feelings of nostalgia.
And the Chevette was once voted the “Best Third World Car” by Car and Driver because it was an obsolete Opel Kadette design they no longer produced in Germany. So GM made them in Georgia.
I know a couple who have a '83 Rabbit Cabrio that they bought cosmetically restored many years ago, every so often a survivor Rabbit shows up on the market but they’re not as oommon on the road. There was a rusty project '79 Diesel Rabbit on Craigslist near seattle for over $2,000 a few months ago that you could tell the front fenders and hood came from another car.
Car that are not interesting and cost more to restore than they will bring when restored are not often restored. Not many people were enough in love with these cars to maintain them in good original condition. When the needed repair got expensive, they were just replaced.
Not like one sees many Corsicas or Tempos at car shows, either.
And now I miss these once-ubiquitous models. I still see them, every now and then, but they are usually beat-up and on their last leg by this point. Very very rarely, do I see one in excellent condition, usually driven by an elderly person, who probably bought the car new 25+ years ago.
Highly unusual to see a Mustang II, Pinto, Probe, or Maverick at a car show.
I guess George is wondering why some VWs are shown, others aren’t. The air cooled VWs are a ‘thing’, with fanatic owners who love to get together. Rabbit owners (what few there are)? Not so much. But I imagine German-focused (not just VW) car shows will have some, GTIs especially.
Oohh… Ford Tempo, that was a horrible car! Ugly, unreliable, poor design.
Un-loved as much as the 5 mph bumper MGBs or diesel Chevettes (0-60 in 23 seconds!)
One place to find '80s cars is at the Radwood shows:
Photo — RADwood
And there has been a water-cooled VW show, “H2O International”:
vw h2o car show - Bing images
Long time ago bought all wheel drive Tempo from my brother in law. Right at about the time things were scheduled to wear out. I was replacing stuff every weekend. I kept fixing it cause I thought that there’s nothing left to wear out. But something still did. I sold it to someone down the road for next to nothing. Ran into him 3 years later. He said he never had a lick of trouble. I hated that car.
There are no Missing vehicle’sat any car show . Some just are not worth spending money on.
Many years ago, I had a rental Tempo when I was touring the Olympic Peninsula. That car had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
the only VW i ever owned was a scirocco that a friend gave me. it was black with black mag wheels and the exhaust had a nice sound. i do not think it was a stock muffler. it was fun little car to drive around for a while. but no real power to it.
I had a '79 Scirocco for a couple of years, then an '83 GTI for 13 years. Good examples of how it’s ‘more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow’, especially when they have decent handling.
One of the last car shows I went to was 10 years ago and there was a mid 60s VW Bug there that someone had stuffed a carbureted Ford 302 into the back of.
A neat survivor car there was an original unmolested black on black1958 Chrysler Imperial with the 392 Hemi.
It had some paint chips, a few dings, and was leaking oil in a few places but overall a solid car.
Another show was new and old. The Chrysler display had a just introduced 200 on display. There was a slinky model standing beside it and waving her hands all over it but not one person cared and over a couple of hours I did not see anyone even giving it a second look when walking by it. I told my daughter that new model is not long for this world. Any Chrysler people were only there for the Challengers, Rams, and Promasters.
There was a drool worthy 1931 Henderson motorcycle on display; the biggest, fastest for the time, and last production year of the make. It was worth more than any car there except possibly a Jaguar with a 174k dollars sticker on the window. Given a choice, I’d take the Henderson any day.
I missed the back to the 50s show in Minneapolis this year, but nothing newer than 67 allowed, and no corvettes or mustangs allowed. But you can find most anything else there. Even had a Morris one year badly in need of restoration. 11,000 old cars.
Thanks for posting the interesting photos. There were actually some pretty good looking cars from that era. Form-follows-function. The computer-controlled carburetors common in that era, not so much.
Re: Comments above about summer car shows: Yes, I’ve also seen quite a few water-cooled VW GTI’s, even some Ford Pintos, even souped-up, turbo-charged versions (with much improved suspensions). Mustangs very common, but I don’t recall ever seeing Mustang II, or a Probe. I did see a Maverick, restored to nearly stock. The Maverick makes for a pretty good stock restoration imo. Never saw a Tempo, but Ford sedans from the early 50’s pretty common, many had quite attractive designs. Those car-trucks, El Camino and Ranchero, seem to be very common at the car shows. I’m not particular fond of their looks, but many seem to like them. @texases … Was that water-cooled VW car show in the UK? Water cooled VW’s seem to be a common topic in UK classic-car magazines. Usually the articles finish with something like “restoration almost complete, just a few niggles remaining w/the fuel injection system” … lol … those Rabbits were fun to drive though, good handling, as @jtsanders mentions. For some reason they sounded really good at slow speed, in parking lots. I think it was the sound of the manual transmission in first gear.
I must have owned almost all the dogs. I had a Rabbit, and it was a blast to drive. I enjoyed the FWD. I’d take corners way too fast and break the back end loose. As long as I kept the accelerator ste@dy or increasing, I’d pull the back end through. Fun for scaring the bejesus out of anyone else in the car (Very Important).
I also had a Corsica LT with the 3.1L V6 and 5-speed manual. It was also fun, but not as much fun as the smaller Rabbit or the car in between, a Cavalier LT with a 2L and 5 speed manual. I even got compliments on how well it handled from customers. The Cavalier was my steel mill car.