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Affordable Classic Volkswagen

After the big success of the Volkswagen Beetle in the 1960s, the German automaker has resurrected the idea of an on-and off-road car and christened it the Type 181 “Thing”. The “thing” was inspired by the World War II Type 82 Kübelwagen and was updated using the Beetle baseline engine and running gear but this time with a beefier Transporter/Microbus suspension.

Also along the lines of the Kübelwagen was its Dumpsteresque yet practical styling. Its simple doors and standard soft top is easy to remove while its windshield can be folded flat. The rear-engine, rear-wheel drive car was rugged and well suited for worst conditioned roads.

The “Thing” was first built in 1969 and was offered in the US until 1973. It is powered by a standard Beetle 1584-cc air-cooled flat four-cylinder engine with 46 chirping horsepower, and coupled to a four-speed manual transmission. Its first year in the US, the Thing was offered in Blizzard White, Sunshine Yellows and Pumpkin Orange.

By the year 1974, the Thing got a slight boost in power from 46bhp to 55 bhp. Other improvements are notable from its side scoops instead of flush slotted vents in the rear quarter panels. The most desired trim package was called the “Acapulco”, and featured a bikini top and blue-and-white striped vinyl seats. The option list includes a fiberglass hard top with solid door windows, luggage racks, air conditioning and a padded roll cage. US sales were discontinued after 1974, while sales in Mexico continued until 1978.

The Thing has a small but faithful legion of followers. One problem encountered with the Thing is in terms of its Panels. Its uni-body seems to be the most difficult part to track down since rustkübels are rare. Likewise, poor insulation which led to snow-country interior temperatures reminiscent of the Shackleton expedition's igloos, kept many of them off salty winter roads.

Volkswagen’s Thing is not all that bad; its extreme commonality of functional parts like for example its Volkswagen brake caliper, with Beetle adds up to its quality as a vehicle. Aside from parts it also shares some Bug’s qualities such as air-cooled reliability and ease of repair parts and parcel makes it the stepchild of one of the best selling cars in the world. In the Southwestern states, it is very easy and convenient to rebuild an engine all one has to do is to walk along the side of any road for about ten miles, gather some parts and viola!—one engine ready to go.

The growing craze over the New Beetle has somewhat affected the Thing prices. But that didn’t completely diminish the interest of the public in various oddball cars of the 70’s like for example Gremlins, Pacers, etc. as a fact it has even helped boost the Thing price. Quality Things are available in prices ranging from ,600 to ,800. As a gauge of the lower end of the market, a non-running #4 1974 Thing with hard top but no title was recently sold at a Midwest estate auction for ,600. The pricing of the Thing may increase in the future but not that high. Regardless, in an era of ,000 Fiat Jollys, the Thing is still one of the best and economical ways of cruising the beach.
Years Produced: 1969-78 (officially imported to US 1973-74)
Original List Price: ,750
Tune-up Cost:
Distributor Caps:
Chassis # Location: Stamped on the forward body lip in the trunk
Engine # Location: Stamped on block underneath the alternator
Club Info: W Type 181 Thing Registry, SE 700 Crescent Drive, Shelton, WA 98584
Web Site:
Alternatives: Ford Bronco, Toyota Land Cruiser (first series), Meyers Manx
The Company Volkswagen
Volkswagen is an automobile manufacturer based in Wolfsburg, Germany. It forms the core of the Volkswagen Group and ranked fourth as world’s largest car producer after GM, Toyota and Ford. Volkswagen means “peoples’ car” in German. Its German tagline is "Aus Liebe zum Automobil" which when translated means "For the love of the car" - or, "For Love of the People's Cars".

For the 20th century, Volkswagen is considered an icon due mainly to its expertise in creating legendary cars. The German automaker’s The beetle is considered to be the best-selling car of all time. And that’s not all even its Volkswagen bus was considered a symbol of a generation. Volkswagen’s Golf is deemed by many as a modern masterpiece. Only very few car manufacturers can parallel such remarkable creations of the largest German automaker.

Volkswagen was born in an era considered to be the period for the privilege few and it is for this reason that Ferdinand Porsche founder of Volkswagen has conceived the idea of creating a people’s car. His main objective is to provide a great number of Germans with a reliable transport at prices that are within their reach.

The Beetle which is a favorite car of all times was produced in the year 1948 together with other 25,000 vehicles. But during that time only two Beetles were produced and were shipped to the USA. A year later another remarkable coupe the Karmann convertible was produced which became the world’s best-selling convertible. To cut the story short, Volkswagen from an auto company grows to becoming a world corporation building factories and working communities in countries like Brazil, United States and Canada. The German automaker has also made working communities in major centres in Western Europe.

In the alst fifteen years of the millennium Volkswagen has surfaced as a true global force in the auto industry especially when it acquired famous names such as Audi, SEAT, Skoda, and Lamborghini.

About the Author: Growing up with three brothers, Natalie Anderson became exposed early to the world of automobiles. This 29-year-old account manager now dreams of having her very own top-of-the-line vintage car. - Dub Auto Parts Direct 1254 zipcode - Richmond

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