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 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing photo

Image credits: © Volkswagen.

1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing

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 rear 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 | Apr 2015

1974 Vehicle Profiles

1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing vehicle information

Cabriolet

Chassis Num: 1842403106

The Volkswagen Thing was produced from 1968 through 1980. They were imported into the United States for the 1973 and 1974 model years only. ....[continue reading]

1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing vehicle information

Cabriolet

Chassis Num: 1842542277E

The Volkswagen Thing was built from 1968 through 1983 and was called several names in various regions including Kurierwagen in West Germany, the Trekker in the United Kingdom, the Safari in Mexico and South America, and Pescaccia in Italy. The Thing ....[continue reading]

1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing vehicle information

Cabriolet

Chassis Num: 1842320865

The Volkswagen Thing had several names; in West Germany it was called the Kurierwagen, the Trekker in the UK, and the Safari in Mexico. It shared its floor pan with the Type 1 Karmann-Ghia and flat-four engine and transaxle layout with the Beetle. Th....[continue reading]

1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing vehicle information

Cabriolet

Chassis Num: 184252287

The Volkswagen Thing was derived from military projects and based on the mechanicals of the Type 1 Beetle. It had a Karmann Ghia floorpan with a 1,500 and 1600cc version of the air-cooled flat four engine. All transmissions were 4-speed manual Volksw....[continue reading]

Cabriolet
Chassis #: 1842403106 
Cabriolet
Chassis #: 1842542277E 
Cabriolet
Chassis #: 1842320865 
Cabriolet
Chassis #: 184252287 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1974 Type 181 Thing
$3,000-$33,950
1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing Base Price : $3,000

Other 1974 Volkswagen Models
$2,624 - $3,500

Thing

Year
Production
Wheelbase
Engine
Prices
94.49 in.
4 cyl., 1679.00 CID., 85.00hp
$3,000 - $3,000
94.49 in.
4 cyl., 96.72 CID., 46.00hp
4 cyl., 102.46 CID., 76.00hp
$3,000 - $3,000
94.49 in.
4 cyl., 96.72 CID., 46.00hp
$3,000 - $3,000

Industry Production

#1#2#3Volkswagen
1979Chevrolet (2,284,749)Ford (1,835,937)Renault (1,405,330)129,779
1978Chevrolet (2,375,436)Ford (1,923,655)Renault (1,240,941)1,177,106
1977Chevrolet (2,543,153)Toyota (1,884,260)Ford (1,840,427)1,123,575
1976Chevrolet (2,103,862)Toyota (1,884,260)Ford (1,861,537)1,061,940
1975Chevrolet (1,755,773)Toyota (1,714,836)Ford (1,569,608)268,751
1974Chevrolet (2,333,839)Ford (2,179,791)Renault (1,355,799)955,355
1973Chevrolet (2,579,509)Ford (2,349,815)Fiat (1,390,251)1,128,784
1972Chevrolet (2,420,564)Ford (2,246,563)Fiat (1,368,216)1,128,784
1971Ford (2,054,351)Chevrolet (1,830,319)Volkswagen (1,128,784)1,128,784
1970Ford (2,096,184)Chevrolet (1,451,305)Volkswagen (1,193,853)1,193,853
1969Chevrolet (2,092,947)Ford (1,826,777)Volkswagen (1,241,580)1,241,580

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