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 ManufacturersArrow PictureVolkswagenArrow PictureType 181 Thing (1969 - 1980)Arrow Picture1973 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing 
1974 Type 181 Thing Image Right
 

1973 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing news, pictures, specifications, and information

The Volkswagen Type 181 was designed as a forestry/military vehicle to be used in Europe, mainly the German Army. It was built in Europe from 1969 through 1971 after which, Mexico began producing the vehicle. In Mexico it was called 'Safari'. Pontiac had a station-wagon in the mid 1950's named 'Safari', so Volkswagen was unable to use that name in the US market. So the decision was made to label the vehicle, 'The Thing'.

The Thing was a front engine, rear-wheel drive vehicle based loosly on the platform of the Beetle. With its four doors it appeared to be much larger than a Volkswagen Beetle, however, it was only a few inches wider and weighed about the same.

A Volkswagen air-cooled, 1.6 liter flat-four provided 46 horsepower and 70 foot-pounds of torque. It was capable of achieving a top speed of around 70 miles per hour.

In 1974, Volkswagen introduced the 'Acapulco' Thing. It was basically stock, had blue and white paint, running boards, a few trim changes, a Surry top and either a soft top or a hard top.

The doors were able to be removed; no tools were necessary. The top was convertible with a fiberglass hard top available as optional equipment. With a price tag of around $3,000, it was close to one-thousand dollars more than a Volkswagen Beetle; a high price to pay for a SUV with modest horsepower and no four-wheel drive. Its ultimate demise was its inability to meet U.S. governmnet crash test standards for 'passenger cars' in 1975. It was able to avoid those requirements by being classified as a 'Multi-Purpose Vehicle' in 1973 and 1974.

In 1975 production ceased after about 25,000 examples were produced.

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2005
SUV
Chassis Num: 183015428
Engine Num: AM009473
 
Sold for $17,050 at 2006 Worldwide Auctioneers.
The Volkswagen Type 181 'Thing' was a very capable vehicle, built for both military and consumer use. The German government was in need of a durable transport vehicle that was nimble, lightweight, and inexpensive. Volkswagen saw the opportunity and produced the 'Thing' which was an off-road capable vehicle that could be driven on poor roads. The design was simple and was based on the World War German military light reconnaissance Type 82 Kubelwagens. Production began in 1969 at Wolfsburg, German and continued in German until 1971, when production was transferred to Puebla, Mexico. The Mexican produced versions were dubbed the 'Trekker' and 'Safari'. In 1972 the 'Thing' began selling in the United States and was sold until 1974 when it was dropped due to failing to meet the ever-evolving US safety standards. During those two years of sales in the US, it is believed that 25,000 units were sold.

The example shown carries chassis number 183015428 and engine number AM009473. It is finished in white with the interior finished in black vinyl with bucket front seats and bench rear seats. It was expected to fetch between $12,000-$18,000. That estimation proved to be accurate, as it was sold at $17,050.

By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2006
SUV
Chassis Num: 1833027705E
 
Sold for $9,900 at 2007 Worldwide Auctioneers.
This 1973 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing was offered for sale at the 2007 Sports and Classic Car Auction presented by The Worldwide Group, in Hilton Head Island, SC where it was estimated to sell for $15,000 - $20,000. It was offered without reserve, meaning the high bid would become the new owner.

This vehicle has been treated to a restoration since new. It is powered by a 1679cc four-cylinder air-cooled engine mated to a four-speed manual gearbox. It has removable doors and body panels adding to the allure and versatility of the vehicle. This car has a unique custom top and tonneau cover which helps transforms this 'Thing' from car into a pick-up style truck.

At auction the car was sold for under the estimated value, netting $9,900 including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007
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Volkswagen: 1971-1980
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Monthly Sales FiguresVolume
July 201430,553 
June 201428,827 
May 201432,163 
April 201430,831 
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December 201334,015 
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September 201331,920 
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1974 Type 181 Thing Image Right
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