1974 Volkswagen Thing
Automatic Stick Shift
1974 Volkswagen Thing (Type 181)
- Fully Restored
- Rare Auto StickShift Transmission
- Awesome Beach Cruiser
(Please note: If you happen to be viewing this 1974 VW Thing (Type 181) on a site other than GarageKeptMotors.com, it's possible that you've only seen some of our many photographs of this vehicle due to website limitations. To be sure you access all the more than 150 photographs, including a short walk-around-and-startup video, please go to our main website: GarageKeptMotors.)
'The Volkswagen Thing is weird, fun, and affordable as ever” – Hagerty, November 2018
Back in the day, Volkswagen advertising asked and answered the obvious question “What's a Thing? It's the anything car that'll take anybody anywhere. A joy all week, a joyride all weekend. It's tough enough to stand up to the elements (an all-steel body that's tough as a turtle's) as well as the oil companies (a tight-fisted engine that gets about 21 mpg).”
The people at Hagerty provided a more detailed explanation of the Thing's origins: “The Type 181 was born in 1969 when the West German military revisited the boxy, open-top theme last seen in the World War II-era Type 82 Kübelwagen. Using the Beetle Type 1 driveline and Transporter Type 2 suspension, the Type 181 formula proved sound.” In all, nearly 91,000 were built worldwide, with 28,930 brought to the U.S. from Mexico for just two years, 1973 and 74.
The white-over-black 1974 Thing offered here comes to Garage Kept Motors in the company of three other vintage Volkswagens from a local collector who owned it for 11 years. In 2015, the vehicle was fully restored including replacement of the drivetrain with a 1974 Beetle engine and automatic-stick shift transmission (never offered from the factory in a Thing, but an addition that pleased drivers uncomfortable with a manual). Wheels, tires, hood-mounted rack were upgraded, and the body was hand-sanded.
The overall restored condition of the vehicle is excellent, consistent with the collector-owner's high standards. The tire-and-wheel combination adds a bit more of an aggressive look. Black-painted tube-steel running boards, bumpers, and hood rack are all properly mounted. The simple sun-shield “roof” affords passengers high SPF protection, and the well-padded roll cage adds more physical protection. Interior and exterior paint is excellent, and all upholstery is undamaged and virtually pristine. That same accolade applies across-the-board to everything from glass, to lighting lenses, to dashboard gauges, and to other switchgear. The Thing-exclusive wood-slat “floor mats” are a special delight. In particular, the condition, cleanliness, and good order of the engine bay, front trunk, and the entire undercarriage is impeccable. This Thing is 100% sorted. (To fully assess the vehicle, be sure to look closely at the more than 150 high-definition photographs—including of the undercarriage—are available at the GarageKeptMotors site, as is a short walk-around-and-startup video.)
This '74 Thing is ready for a host of outdoor-driving fun, from beach duty, to parade duty, to VW-owner gatherings, to autumn-color tours, to evening sunset drives. We welcome in-person visits to our Grand Rapids, Michigan showroom to see the Thing up close and sample its many charms. We only ask that you call or email us in advance to arrange an appointment so that we can devote our full. attention to you. In the same spirit, feel free to contact us directly with any questions.
The Hagerty writers concluded their review of the VW Type 181 this way: “The Thing's thing, true now as it was in the 1970s, is that it's a mechanically simple oddball with a unique personality. You're guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows when you roll by in a Thing, and most examples are regularly used enough that owners don't mind a shoeful of beach sand in the footwell.”