project: scooter

project: scooter

Meet the newest addition to my mechanical extended family, a 1981 VW Rabbit micro-pickup that I've affectionately named, "Scooter." These are relatively rare vehicles, made for only two years, and this one is particularly rare in that it is powered by the super-reliable VW 1.6 diesel engine. Coupled to the (also somewhat unusual) five-speed transmission, this little pickup gets around 40mpg on regular pump diesel, better than my mother's Prius hybrid, despite being almost three decades old. But wait -- there's so much more!

These engines have long been a favorite of the biodiesel crowd, for their overall simplicity and tolerance for alternative fuels. In fact, the previous owner spent alot of money trying to convert this one. Too bad having alot of money still doesn't make you a mechanic, because he could never get it to run correctly on vegoil. One look under the hood told me a dozen reasons why. Here's a picture of the engine, for those of a technical disposition, with the ridiculously-overcomplicated vegoil system circled in white. There's enough hardware in there to convert two cars, with none of it insulated, and no way to monitor if it's even working correctly. Since I've already constructed the vegoil processing equipment for fuelling my diesel generator (see Project: Generator), once I remove half of this rat's nest I'll be driving for free!

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