Monday, February 1, 2010

1974 VW Thing

Like the Jeep, this was a military vehicle that was sold to civilians. Unlike the Jeep, this was created from the get-go to serve both roles.

During the 1960s, the Germans and Italians were working on a lightweight, amphibious four-wheel drive vehicle that could be mass produced for use by all European NATO member armies.

The German government needed something right away. They approached VW who saw potential in creating a military vehicle that could also be a consumer vehicle. The Type 181 "Kurierwagen" was born. In civilian form it was called the Thing in the US, the Safari in Mexico and the Trekker in the UK.

The Thing was based in part on the VW Beetle (VW Type 1). It had all of the Beetles virtues; great parts availability, easy maintenance and low running costs. It also had all of the Beetles vices; prone to rust, lousy performance (0-60 took 23 seconds) and an uncomfortable ride.

There aren't many of these vehicles left. They were not 4WD, but that didn't stop a lot of people from off-roading them. Many Things were abused to death.

This one has gone through what appears to be a very extensive restoration. According to the seller, "it features the correct 1600cc engine with just over 2500 miles on a complete rebuild. The clutch assembly, rear axles and brakes are all new. It just had a valve adjustment, a new Bocar carb and Rage coil over shocks installed. The wheels are 15X5 powder coated Mangle steel wheels with brand new tires. Over $2,500 was spent on the new top and side windows. Other work includes all new rubber seals, windshield, generator, battery and new fuel lines."

As you would expect with a car that has had that much work done to it, it's not inexpensive. The asking price is $14,975.00. Personally, I can think of a lot of other cars - a whole lot of other cars - I'd spend $15K on. But, if a Thing is your thing and you have $15K to spend on one, this appears to be one of the nicest ones around.

Being offered by a company called Affordable Classics, in Gladstone, OR, click here to see the ad.

A big thanks to JaCG reader, Tom, for turning me on to the Affordable Classics website.

1 comment:

Richard said...

There was a guy down my street who had one of these, it was an eyesore, mismatched body panels, no top, ripped seats, it just sat outside for years. The neighbors hated it, to be honest, I really didn't care for it either. However one day I got a ride in the Thing on the Oceano sand dunes and it was an amazing little car, for being two wheel drive it just glided over the tough terrain (I guess in part due to its light weight). I ended up having a little bit more respect for the Thing, although it was still the eyesore of the neighborhood.

I guess this was VW's answer to the Mini Moke?