Volkswagen Iltis: Type 183

It is amazing what you can find on Pinterest. This Volkswagen gem showed up recently. Volkswagen had produced the Type 181 (Kubelwagen or Thing) in response to the Europa Jeep, a vehicle that would go through water with four wheel drive, for the German Military in the 60’s. 1976 the Europa Jeep project fell apart because of difficult production and high costs.

According to Wikipedia, The German military had purchased several thousand vehicles of the Munga, a light jeep manufactured by DKW, but production of the Munga ended in 1968. VW consolidated the former Auto Union marques into a single company, re-using the Audi name to designate vehicles manufactured by the company rather than continuing to manufacture vehicles under the names of the various brands that had made up the original Auto Union. Volkswagen decided to run with the project and the technologies they acquired and the vehicle they came up with is the VW Iltis Type 183. The vehicle featured a variation of the Munga’s platform with newly modified suspension components, a four wheel drive system based around components from the Audi 100 and a 1.7 litre four cylinder Volkswagen engine producing 75 horsepower. The design of this four wheel drive system provided the basis for Audi’s Quattro system, which debuted four years later in 1980 on the original Audi Quattro. Earlier that year, Freddy Kottulinsky and Gerd Löffelmann had won the Paris-Dakar Rally in an Audi-prepared Iltis.

The Iltis passed the German government’s tests with ease, and was chosen over the equally competent but more expensive Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Production began in the summer of 1978 and the first 200 units were delivered in November; by late 1979 approximately 2,000 units had been delivered with 310 units sent to the Luftwaffe and 20 sent to the German Navy. Although most of the units produced were four-doored with open tops, ambulance, anti-tank, artillery survey, command and field communications units with varying bodystyles were produced in small numbers. A civilian model was also offered in Germany, but found even fewer takers than the 181 had, largely due to price.

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