The Golf may have been designed and developed in Germany, but the pickup version was the brainchild of Volkswagen of America. The United States was still reeling from the impact of the OPEC crisis, and small, thrifty, pickups were skyrocketing in popularity. A Golf-based model seemed to tick the right boxes. Diesel-powered models, which used VW’s little 1.5-liter I-4, were incredibly stingy on fuel. Better yet, the fact that Golf/Rabbits were built in Pennsylvania meant the Pickup could be too, thus avoiding the so-called Chicken Tax levied on virtually every foreign-built small truck.
Sales in 1980 and 1980 were steady, ringing in at 25,532 and 33,879 units, respectively, but fell to 12,769 in 1982. VW decided to pull the plug on the model in mid-1983, but the Pickup didn’t die altogether. Instead, VW shipped tooling to its plant in Yugoslavia, and began selling it in Europe as the Caddy. Production ran until the early 1990s, although VW’s South African wing kept building Caddies through 2007.