Storage Yard Classic: Poor Neglected Thing

Volkswagen Thing

Out of all the vehicles in the storage yard this Thing might just be the most valuable. Also known as the Kurierwagen, Safari, or Trekker depending on the market the Type 181 had one of the more odd automotive names for the US and Canadian markets; Thing. Fitting perhaps for one of the more odd vehicles sold with styling that could be mistaken for a brightly colored dumpster.

Volkswagen Thing interior

We have already had a full write up on the Thing so I’ll stick to just the basics. The Thing was almost a pure parts bin special using a Karmann Ghia floor pan (it is a little wider than a standard Beetle). Used initially as a light military vehicle the civilian sales started with Europe and Mexico in 1971. American sales had to wait another year until 1972. The interior on this one was by no means perfect but it was in pretty decent shape considering these have a reputation for rusting and this Thing sat outside and topless for at least five to six years.

Volkswagen Thing engine

The engine is, of course, a flat four cylinder borrowed from the Beetle and Karmann Ghia. For the US market they were all 46hp 1.6L units giving the Thing 0-60mph times of around 23 seconds. Top speed was listed as 73mph. Brakes were drums at all four corners.

Volkswagen Thing rear

The Thing didn’t last long on the US and Canadian markets where it was initially categorized as a truck. With seating for four and only two wheel drive available it would have been re-categorized as a passenger vehicle for 1975. Since it had no hope of meeting the more stringent passenger vehicle requirements and being a rather niche vehicle it was withdrawn from the US market. Only about 25,000 out of a world wide production of 140,000 were sold in the US. Oddball styling, suspect practicality and a relatively high base price of $2750 (well north of a basic Beetle) are likely to blame. I suspect this particular Thing would be an easy restoration with its very minimalist interior and flat body panels. Heck with a little floor work the body is probably useable as is.