The Volkswagen Type 181 “The Thing” was an updated version of the German military’s Type 82 Kubelwagen. Rather than using the Type 82’s mechanical setup, however, the Thing rode on a combination of a Beetle driveline and a Type II Transporter suspension. Like the rest of the VW lineup, the Type 181 placed the air-cooled, 1584-cc engine in the rear and use the motor’s 46 hp to drive the rear wheels.
While the Beetle had charm, the Thing was much more utilitarian. Nary a curve on the car, it had a removable top, a folding windshield, and hose-it-out practicality. While it would never be confused for a jeep, land Rover, or Land Cruiser on the trail, it could manage to stray off the pavement, and was particularly fun on the beach.
Much like during its two-year production run, the Volkswagen Thing today is a quirky, eye-catching ride. Its bright and wild 1970s colors, combined with the convertible’s boxiness make it stand out in a sea of uniform cars. Models from 1974 are slightly more desirable due to their 55 hp, though condition and color tend to drive value more than model year. Keeping a Thing streetable is not difficult given their commonality with the ubiquitous Beetle and a vast network of parts suppliers.
This example has been in the same ownership for more than a decade and was very well cared for. Featuring Sunshine Yellow paint and matching removable hard top, this car definitely stands out from the others. The paint finish is very good and there is no sign of rust on the body or undercarriage. The car came from Arizona as is evident from the clean floor pans. The seat upholstery is excellent and shows like new. The floors have period correct coco mats that are in very nice condition. While car is showing only 26,222 miles on the odometer, we have no way to authenticate that mileage but it certainly looks to have seen limited use. The engine runs great and has had the benefit of being rebuilt with a 1795cc bore kit, twin carburetors, chrome dress up kit and performance enhancing intake manifolds added to it. Based on the degreed crankshaft pulley and its excellent performance, it could have additional enhancements. There are no side curtains or soft top included but they are readily available from aftermarket suppliers. A full factory tool kit and protective seat covers (both like new) are included.
This car is blast to drive and it brings out smiles everywhere it goes.