Nobody can say for sure how many examples of the Type 181 or Type 182 – the right-hand-drive version – were constructed; estimates vary from about 70,000 to twice that number. What is known is that the open-topped Type 181 was dubbed the “Thing” for the U.S. market, and some 25,000 units were sold here from 1972 to 1974. They were popular in sunnier climes and their bright colors – Blizzard White, Sunshine Yellow, and Pumpkin Orange, all with black leatherette interiors and tops – shouted “Fun!”
The 181 was based on the VW Kubelwagen, an off-road vehicle first offered to the German military. The steel body featured four seats, removable doors and windows, a folding windshield, and a single round instrument containing a speedometer and fuel gauge. The rear-mounted, air-cooled boxer four and four-speed manual transaxle were borrowed from the Type 1 Beetle. A gas heater was optional. The front suspension was conventional Volkswagen, with torsion bars and trailing arms. Originally Type 181s were fitted with a “Portal” rear axle design similar to the VW transporter to give additional ground clearance and off-road–appropriate reduction gearing. When the 181 was offered to the civilian market in 1973, that layout was replaced with more conventional half-shafts.
This desirable pre-1973 example, which is in excellent condition throughout, is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner. Having clearly been meticulously looked after in its previous custodianship, this 181 will turn heads at any classic car event it attends.
Offered at No Reserve on 18th May 2019 at Chiswick House.