VW Thing – 181

The Thing-you may relate this to a 1982 horror movie starring Kurt Russell. . . However, in 1968, Volkswagen built a military vehicle that was a two-wheel drive, four-door, convertible, off-road model that came by the name The Thing in The United States, Kurierwagen in Germany, the Trekker in the United Kingdom, and the Safari in Mexico.


The Thing shared its mechanics with the VW Beetle and its platform with a Volkswagen Micro Bus. Volkswagen was originally approached in the 1950’s to build a military style but passed at the time deciding that the Europa Jeep style would be better suited as a passenger car. Mexican customers were asking for something that could handle rural roads better than the Type 1, which was a large seller in Mexico at the time, and the popularity of VW-based dune buggies within the U.S. made executives think that a durable, fun, off-road-capable vehicle would become attractive to many buyers. VW could keep cost to a minimum and thus maximize profitability by using existing parts.

Volkswagen, VW, VW Thing, Thing

Sales for consumers started in Europe and Mexico in 1971; in the U.S. in 1972; and for a moment in Britain in 1975, where it failed to sell enough and was dropped quickly. The model was dropped from the American lineup for 1975 as it failed to meet new, stricter US safety standards. The Type 181 was reclassified as a passenger vehicle, and thus subject to stricter safety standards.  All VW Things were basically the same with only differences coming from lighting and emissions depending on the local regulations.  The actual production numbers seem to be vague  numbers range from 70,495 to almost the double at 140,768 and civilian sales ended after model year 1980.

One THING is sure- Volkswagen sold more of them than they ever could have imagined!! Now the VW Thing has a cult following and you can see it in movies such as 50 First Dates where Drew Barrymore’s character drives one.

 The Thing on VW Southtowne Pinterest: Das Thing

Read More: VW Thing Restoration          Read More: Volkswagen 181           Read More: Brief History of VW Thing

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2 responses to “VW Thing – 181

  1. Pingback: Volkswagen Iltis: Type 183 | Volkswagen Utah·

  2. I have a safari and live in El Sargento BCS. Such a special car. I get parts etc from Thr Thing Shop in Phoenix.

    I love this article.

    Thank you


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