About 10 years ago, after I had been racing street cars [at the dragstrip] for about 8 years, a friend of mine gave me this Rabbit. I didn't have any money but figured I'd stick a 16-valve in it and build a dedicated race car. What else are you going to do with an old Rabbit? I ran low 13s with it in the early '90s. That was unheard of-an import running ETs like that with no turbo.

It was fun. I always wanted to race muscle cars, but driving a Mustang or Camaro doesn't take a lot of talent. It's a matter of opinion, of course, but you can buy and bolt on everything you need to make them run 11s.

Over the years, the Rabbit had a supercharged 8V and a couple of 16-valves. Then I built a Golf that I stuck a VR6 in. That car ran so well as an ET bracket racer, I eventually decided to tear the motor out of the Rabbit and convert it to a VR6. Collin Gyenes built a 3.1-liter with Techtonics Tuning 288 cams and almost 14:1 compression. TT also provided the new exhaust system. That was mated up to a VR6 transmission that includes a very reliable Quaife and a 4.24 ring and pinion. That was about three and a half years ago, and the car has run 11s ever since.

The Rabbit weighs 1,750 lb in its current configuration with a fiberglass hatch and Lexan windows. Safety equipment includes a 5-point chromoly rollbar, flywheel shield and RCI 5-point seatbelts. The fronts are BMW steel wheels with Mickey Thompson 24.5x8x13 tires. The Drive Shaft Shop built these driveshafts years ago-I was the only one breaking them at first. Frank finally came up with a great set that has been unbreakable ever since. That made the car real fun to drive. I added power steering; I wanted the car to be easy to drive.

We fabbed a complete rear axle assembly; very lightweight. The gas tank was custom made to hold 2.5 gal. of VP Race fuel. In front we have Bilsteins with very light springs. The brakes are stock Rabbit parts-they are the lightest. The fuel injection is a stock VR6 system chipped by Techtonics to handle extra fuel and timing. There's no aftermarket injection stuff on this car-when you had no money, you had to use what you could.

I like to drive straight. I've driven around road courses and it's fun, but it's more fun when you single out one person and beat them. You go down the track, do a time, race Camaros, Mustangs or a Chevelle. When you beat them by half a second, guys come over and have to look. They wonder if you have nitrous or a turbo but, nope, it's just a motor and fwd. They're just baffled. It must be the worst feeling in the world when those guys go home to their friends and have to say they lost to a Rabbit!

The best the car has run is 11.56 at 116.5 mph. It's unique, and the only import that races in the Pro class here [Woodburn Dragstrip] against about 80 muscle cars.

Rabbit Specifications

Engine
Type 3074cc 12-valve VR6, iron block, aluminum head

Power output
275 bhp at 6200 rpm

Internal Modifications
85mm JE pistons, 13.5:1 CR, ARP head studs, SCE copper head gasket, Schrick intake and exhaust valves, Techtonics Tuning 288 cams

External Modifications
Custom header manifolds with TT 2.5-in. exhaust system, side outlet, stock intake manifold, custom radiator

Engine Management Modifications
VW OBD-I fuel and ignition computer, TT specialty chip. MSD Soft Touch rev Limiter

Drivetrain
Drivetrain Modifications
02A gearbox, 4.24 R+P w/Quaife differential, stock 1st to 5th, driveshaft Shop Stage 3 axles w/Rockford CV joints, 1/2-in. steel flywheel shield

Suspension
Front: Bilstein Sport w/coilovers; rear: Jaguar XJS rear shocks on custom axle; A-arms re-inforced and poly bushings

Brakes
Factory 16V master cylinder w/brake booster; front: 9.4-in. vented rotors; rear: '77 Rabbit drums

External Wheels
Front: BMW 13-in. steel; rear: VW steel

Tires
Front: Mickey Thompson 24.5x8x13; rear: 195/60 Yokohamas

Body
Alpine White, Lexan windows, rear fiberglass hatch, European bumpers

Interior
Poly Race Seat, RCI five-point seatbelts, 1.5-in. five-point chromoly rollbar, Grant steering wheel, Autometer 5-in. tac

By Tim McKinney
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