How Mexico Adopted The Rabbit Convertible

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
November 15, 2018

Kathy’s dad thought she was crazy; paying $11,000 for a brand new Volkswagen convertible in 1980.

It was not a Volkswagen bug, but one of the newer models built in the Carmen plant in Italy.

Who would have thought that Volkswagen would outlast her father’s Cadillac many times over, and still be on the road today humming from the beaches in Baja to the little town of Mulege where it is a regular sight.

For 35 years the engine had not been touched, and when it started using oil, it helped keep the mosquitoes at bay. Then when it was using almost a quart of oil to a fill up of gas, we broke down and took it to the local mechanic.

Mechanics in Mexico are very familiar with Volkswagens. There are tons of them still running here. The campers are very popular, and the original bugs are still raced in the Baja 1,000.

Our first choice was to replace the whole motor. That turned out to be a false hope because motors for that year car were just not available and the mechanic said he could fix the old motor.

He started working on it in the spring of 2016, when we left for our home in California. We paid him in advance for the new motor which never arrived, so he owed us money. This is never a good situation in Mexico. The rule is to pay for the parts up front and the repair work after the job is completed.

Fortunately, we had a friend who stayed in Baja most of the summer and gave us an update on the work. He looked in on the mechanic periodically and the report we got was that the mechanic had a blanket and the entire engine was laid out systematically on that blanket, but there was little movement on the repair.

The next report said that the mechanic was waiting for parts he had ordered. We dreaded the day when we expected to hear that the parts were no where to be found, and the Red little Rabbit would never make it back on the road.

Seven months went by and it was time to return to Mexico. One of the first things on our mind was to check on the Rabbit.

To our amazement it was sitting in the mechanic’s yard, all back together. It had a layer of dust a half inch thick. And the mechanic said there were extra parts he had to buy, so there was an additional bill.

The total bill was $18,000 pesos which equaled about $1,000 with the peso at 18 to $1 US dollar.

How’s the Rabbit convertible doing today?

It’s got a new paint job for $500 and looks and runs good as ever.

Mexicans love it so much they want to buy it, however, it is not for sale!


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