1974 Volkswagen Thing
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New Mexico Thing
1974 Volkswagen Thing (Type 181)
-1600cc 4 Cylinder
-4 Speed Manual Transmission
-Red Over Black Interior
-Brand New Interior and Top
(Please note: If you happen to be viewing this 1974 VW Thing (Type 181) on a site other thanGarageKeptMotors.com, it's possible that you've only seen some of our many photographs of this vehicle due to third-party website limitations. To be sure you access all the more than 105 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 the obvious question “What's a Thing? The answer: 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 red-over-black '74 Thing offered here is a driver-quality vehicle with just over 57,000 miles. Originally yellow, it wears a full repaint (exterior/interior/engine bay/trunk) , a front brush guard, new black convertible top, and newly reupholstered seats. VW-branded hubcaps and white-letter Kelly Charger tires add a freshened look, as do black-painted bumpers and side air intakes.
The well-padded roll cage adds physical protection for occupants. Spartan interior appointments are part of the appeal of these fun vehicles. The speedometer and 4-speed manual transmission floor-mounted shifter are original, while a recent-vintage audio unit is mounted in front of the passenger, on the lower dash. Carpeted door inserts add a measure of sound-proofing to the standard bare-metal surface. The overall condition of the vehicle is appropriate for its mileage and age.
The front trunk and the engine bay are clean and tidy. The undercarriage displays widespread surface ruston untreated metalconsistent with normal use. There is no evidence of damage from off-road driving, or any other signs of abuse.
(To fully assess the vehicle, be sure to look closely at the more than 105 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. We welcome in-person visits to our Grand Rapids, Michigan showroom to see the Thing up close and sample its charms. Since our showroom is not open to the public, we 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.”