1981 Caddy RWD or AWD conversion

Cjohnson1205

New member
Joined
Oct 10, 2021
Location
Indiana
TDI
1981 VW rabbit/2012 Jetta TDI
Does anyone have experience with a 1980s rabbit truck conversion to rwd or AWD? I find videos all the time but with no useful info on what parts or how to. I am trying to build a custom caddy with a 1.9 TDI swap from the 1.6 that's in it. For a local car show next year.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
That is one of those questions that is "If you have to ask, then....".

I mean, anything can be done with enough time and money. There isn't anything "specific" to that model, because to do what you want to do would essentially apply to ANY transverse FWD unibody car. The only difference is, that truck uses a leaf sprung solid axle in the back, so you could probably use any small live rear axle in its place... take your pick. But chances are, it would have to be something tiny, and that means old. Some old Toyota or Nissan (Datsun), or even a Chevette. There were also some RWD British cars that had live axles that were tiny. That would take care of the basics of the rear, but the engine/gearbox at the front would require some serious cutting and fabrication. You'd likely have to use an entirely different steering and possibly suspension system... again from something similarly arranged... since most transverse cars, including the Caddy, have the steering rack right in the way of the proposed powertrain swap. There likely isn't room or a solid foundation for a top mounted rack, like most of the older longitudinal VAG cars use, as well as some later Hondas, so you'll have to do a bottom mounted rack (like many longitudinal cars and trucks use). Again, the source pool is pretty vast... and again, you'll need something tiny.
 

jmodge

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Location
Greenville, MI
TDI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 5speed daily commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/502's backroad cruiser
You could save yourself some trouble and start with something like this
 

jmodge

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Location
Greenville, MI
TDI
2001 alh Jetta, RC2 5speed daily commuter and 2000 alh Jetta 5spd swap, 2" lift, hitch, stage 3 TDtuning w/502's backroad cruiser
This was the one I meant to send, depending where in Indiana you are, might be pretty close
 

[486]

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 1, 2014
Location
MN
TDI
02 golf ALH
cut out box floor
place engine/trans in rear
extra easy because cable shifter and hydraulic clutch on the newer tdi trannies
iirc there were some awd caravans that got a powered beam axle that has CV shafts, just narrow it to fit and weld up some axleshafts
 

GlowBugTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2018
Location
Cambridge, MN
TDI
2001 Beetle GLS TDI (BIODSL). Glow Bug TDI (sold)
cut out box floor
place engine/trans in rear
extra easy because cable shifter and hydraulic clutch on the newer tdi trannies
iirc there were some awd caravans that got a powered beam axle that has CV shafts, just narrow it to fit and weld up some axleshafts
I like it!
Like a mini stubby bob!
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
The early AWD GM minivans and the Pontiac Aztek also had that same setup for the rear axle as the ChryCo AWD minivans. The Sienna is similar, but uses a twist beam axle instead.
 

[486]

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 1, 2014
Location
MN
TDI
02 golf ALH
The early AWD GM minivans and the Pontiac Aztek also had that same setup for the rear axle as the ChryCo AWD minivans. The Sienna is similar, but uses a twist beam axle instead.
I wanted to use a sienna beam axle for a mk4 golf conversion, got the 0a6 trans and transfer case in, swapped to a smaller fuel tank to make room for the driveshaft, bought the tiguan rear diff assembly then bought a house and I've been swamped ever since
 

[486]

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 1, 2014
Location
MN
TDI
02 golf ALH
I would think the Sienna's width would be placing the rear wheels half outside the Golf's fender arches?
saw and welder was implied
really, was implied with the suggestion on the one going into the mk1 chassis as well, seeing as how those are like a foot narrower than even a mk4 lol
 
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