Orange Thing: 1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing – Sold!

Mar 2020 | Classifinds, Truckin Tuesday

Update: This one got away, but if you have your heart set on something similar, email us the details of what you’re looking for or call Rudy directly at (908)295-7330

It wasn’t that long ago that $750 could buy you a slightly rusty and ratty VW Thing, let alone $7,500 such as this removable hardtop equipped 1974 example listed on Craigslist in Gibbstown, New Jersey.  While that asking price may seem stiff for some, a review of the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller has his Thing priced $2,700 below the current #4 “Fair” (Daily Driver) estimate of $10,200. 

Even though Volkswagen produced its Type 181, two-wheel drive, four-door convertible, from 1968 to 1983, the company only offered it in the U.S. for the 1973 and 1974 model years.  Originally developed for the West German Army, Type 181 also entered the civilian market outside of the U.S. as the Kurierwagen (“courier car”) in West Germany, the Trekker (RHD Type 182) in the United Kingdom, the Safari in Mexico and South America, and Pescaccia in Italy. Civilian sales ended after the model year 1980.

Manufactured in several VW plants throughout the world, the Type 181 shared its mechanicals with Volkswagen’s Type 1 (Beetle) and its longer floor pan with the Type 1 Karmann Ghia.  All four doors were removable and interchangeable, the windshield folded flat and the convertible roof could be removed for open air driving. The spartan interior featured vinyl covered bucket seats, painted sheet metal, drain holes, and perforated rubber mats. Both the fiberglass hardtop and frunk-mounted auxiliary gas-fired heater found on this example were offered as individual options.

If you’re looking for a cool father-child project to take on, this Thing could be a great candidate as it comes with many spare parts to complete the process.  While the floor pan has corrosion, if it truly turns out to be as solid as the seller indicates, then a day’s application of POR-15 or equivalent will have it looking very presentable.  Despite being only two-wheel-drive, the rear-biased weight distribution combined with the removable top make this Thing a fun, go-anywhere vehicle, albeit not very quickly. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“This is a very 1974 VW Thing. Recently out of a long time storage. Just spent 1000 dollars on brakes and tune up. I have installed an HEI ignition and new carburetor. New belts , gas tank cleaned and new sender. I have four rust free doors and another engine lid. Very solid floors. Has some rust under battery and some along the center rail. Nothing serious. No rust in the front nose and has never been hit up there. Accessory front guard which is rare, nice door curtains and I have extras of those. Have a lot of new parts for it. Runs drivers stops great. Has the optional hardtop. I have the convertible top frame and a new top. It has two Chevy rims on the back now. I have all four adapters to use Chevy rim and a new set of 15 inch chrome reverse wheels and baby moon center caps. I have three of the original wheels. Has the auxiliary heater up front. Do not know if it works but it is all there. Has the original jack and spare up front. I have the original front seats in good shape. Great summertime vehicle. Give me a call,open to offers , no trades. Dave 856-371-6476

Do you have a Thing story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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