A father-daughter duo’s journey to restore a 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit

In Bristol, Tennessee, a car-loving father-daughter duo are working on a special project.

George Linke grew up around car racing and tinkering on vehicles with his family. During the pandemic, Juliana, 7, expressed interest in helping her dad with home projects from painting to building a backyard deck. Keen on feeding her curiosity, Linke allowed her to watch, learn and participate where she could. Eager to give her more hands-on experience, Linke got an idea to start a new project together – restoring a car.

Linke thought a car restoration project would be a great learning and bonding experience with his young daughter. Juliana has been attending car shows as long as she can remember and has her own toy car collection. The restoration project makes sense as she’s already familiar with the automotive world.

“We talk about STEM in schools all the time, but I think with a project like this you can learn a whole lot. I always felt that the car is a great platform to learn all kinds of different skills, like mechanical, electrical, painting and art. There’s so much you can do with it that they [kids] can explore,” said George Linke.

Linke purchased his first Volkswagen, a 2019 Golf Alltrack, as his daily driver a few years ago and immediately became a fan of the brand. A work colleague and fellow VW fan noticed the vehicle over the summer. After speaking with Linke about their mutual interest in the brand and hearing about his desire to restore a car with his daughter, the colleague offered to sell his own 1983 VW Rabbit for them to work on together.

In July, the pair started working on the car, which Juliana named “Rocket Bunny.” In the first few months, they’ve been able to remove all the seats and carpets, clean off the rust, apply sealant, paint and take off the bumper. Juliana can do some of the work on her own, with her dad’s careful supervision. He starts by loosening the bolts and screws for her, but ultimately allows her to finish some tasks herself.

For Juliana, her favorite part of the project so far has been, “choosing colors and painting” and the most challenging has been, “pulling off the bumper.”

He hopes that one day Juliana will be able to drive it and have the coolest car in high school. He plans to do the same with Juliana’s six-month old sister when she gets older.

“It’s really been fun spending time with Juliana and actually watching her do the work. It’s nice to not be under any pressure, to just take our time and let her learn.”

The full restoration is expected to take up two years to complete. You can follow along the family’s journey on Instagram at @fatherdaughtergarage2021.