Here’s the Thing: 1973 Volkswagen Type 181 “Thing”

  • December 21, 2020
Why We Like It

Rooted in the “Europa Jeep” military program of the 1960s, Volkswagen’s elemental, go-anywhere Type 181 was variously known as the ‘Kurierwagen’ in West Germany, the ‘Trekker’ in the UK, the ‘Safari’ in Mexico, and the ‘Thing’ in North America. Drawing immediate comparisons to the Type 82 Kübelwagen of WWII Afrika Korps fame, the 1970s Type 181 used mechanicals and rear-engine powertrain of the Type I Beetle, as well as Karmann Ghia floor pans, while the soft top, fold-down windshield, and removable doors encouraged summertime fun. Sales began during 1971 in Europe and Mexico, and then 1973 for North America where it was dropped by 1974 following imposition of ever-stricter DOT regulations. Nonetheless, the fun and funky VW Thing left a lasting impression and enjoys cult status among the Volkswagen faithful today.

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heres-the-thing-1973-volkswagen-type-181-thing00Z0Z epy3b3YnNpf 0CI0t2 1200x900Offered from a seller who is open to all offers, this 70k-mile 1973 VW Thing is advertised with an all-important solid body and sound floors. A new top was recently fitted, and weather gear includes new side curtains with a storage bag. A new AM/FM radio with built-in speakers is installed, and other key items include new shocks and rebuilt carburetor. The seller advises the vehicle runs great, and excellent accents include new stripes, luggage rack, fog lights, push bar, and coco mats. Mechanical updates include new ball joints, steering link, outer tie rods, steering stabilizer, transmission mounts, fuel filters and hoses, and more. Advertised ready to drive and enjoy, it rides on tires estimated with over 75% tread life remaining. Advertised with everything working, it includes a covered spare tire, a jack, tools, and owner’s manuals. The seller owned this Thing before and liked it so much they bought it back, only to have to sell it now due to age and shifting priorities.

Distinctively styled and easy to operate, the VW Thing was designed and produced for just one thing – fun – and lots of it. Despite their short run and abrupt end here in North America, they enjoy a large and loyal following today. Of course, condition, mileage, and completeness are paramount drivers of market values, while Hagerty puts pricing at $10,800 for a #4 driver, to $18,600 for a good #3 example, and we consistently see them sell at auction in the $15-$10k+ range. This one seems to be a quality and respected example, representing fair market or even better value for the money.!heres-the-thing-1973-volkswagen-type-181-thing00303 8HTI1LONHk 0CI0t2 1200x900

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