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Rooted in the “Europa Jeep” military-vehicle development program of the 1960s, Volkswagen’s elemental, go-anywhere Type 181 was variously known as the Kurierwagen in West Germany, the Trekker in the UK, the Safari in Mexico, and the Thing in North America. Drawing immediate comparisons to the Type 82 Kübelwagen, the Type 181 used mechanicals and the rear-engine power train of the Type I Beetle and Karmann Ghia floor pans. A soft top, fold-down windshield, and removable doors encouraged summertime fun. Sales began during 1971 in Europe and Mexico and during 1973 in North America, where it was dropped by 1974 after imposition of new Department of Transportation regulations. Nonetheless, the cheeky VW Thing left a lasting impression and enjoys cult status among the Volkswagen faithful today.
An exceptional Thing, this collector-owned example from 1973 is eye-catching in its Pumpkin Orange finish, complemented by a black convertible top as well as a rare, complete set of side curtains for weather protection as required, and bright hubcaps. The purposeful interior compartment is correct and attractive to match; at the rear, the peppy, air-cooled 1.6- liter flat-four engine and surrounding engine bay are nicely detailed and properly equipped. A complete fluid service was performed during late 2017, including the braking system. Ready for enjoyment by a lucky new owner, this 1973 Volkswagen Thing will certainly continue to enchant all who experience it.