Given the relative lack of Mini Mokes and Citroen Meharis in the North American market, you’d think the VW Type 181 Thing would have a lock on the audience who thinks doors, windows, a roof, carpet, and more are the conceit of capitalist pigs, and who aren’t crazy about the handling compromises you get with a Jeep, Bronco, or Scout. And you’d be right, which is why pricing in the low five figures is normal for these cars. At least one reactionary sees clearly, though, that this car should be priced so any comrade can afford it, so if you’re one of those, check out this 1974 VW Thing for sale for $4200 in San Jose, CA.
Judging by the look of it, someone equipped this car for some off-roading, of which Things were quite capable. In retrospect, though, the giant fender mounted spot lights, big-and-little wheels, seemingly homemade bikini top and Caterpillar logos (what?!) seem a little contrived. However, it’s said to have a fairly solid body and floor with only a couple of trouble spots – just make sure those are not in the heater channels.
The car is said not to leak any oil, so it’s funny to see oil spots right next to it in this picture, even if they aren’t from it. Some corrosion is apparent, as are rough edges on the rockers, perhaps from impacts on the trail. The patches of primer and oxidized yellow paint suggest it’s still in its original color.
The engine is said to run well and have no leaks. The seller calls out the dual carburetors, and the 009 distributor – the latter is odd since these have a reputation for causing a flat spot in acceleration. Either way, the car can handle freeway speeds, which must be interesting with the bikini top up.
In this price range, expect ratty seats and be pleasantly surprised if the seat covers are on top of something better. With a car with no roof, these seem like a good idea until the first misty morning, when you put your butt down on a damp sheepskin. The dash looks decent and fairly complete, with an original VW steering wheel. The wooden floorboard/grid is not visible, so assume it’s returned to the earth from whence it came. Would you take the gamble to see if you might love this cheap Thing?