Classic VW BuGs Presents The Volkswagen Thing Is Slow, Old, Unsafe… and Amazing

Added October 20, 2016 by Chris Vallone

The Volkswagen Thing is one of those military vehicles that somehow made it into production, and it shows.

The Thing was manufactured in many countries under different names, but in Germany it was known as the Type 181. It shared some of its mechanics with the Type 1 (the Beetle) and the Type 2 (Bus), but unlike the other two, it was originally developed for the German army, and it’s the direct descendant of the Kübelwagen.


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I love the thing, maybe it's because of seeing one in the movie "50 first dates" but these cars are undeniably cool. The Kubelwagen was also known as the type 82, and the thing was type 181 (coincidentally their digits both add up to 10). If you can't tell by the fenders and general shape, an easy way to tell if it's a 181 or an 82 from a distance is the number of ribs on the side doors, things have 2, and kubelwagens had 3. The thing, was meant to compete with the jeep, which was also pretty spartan in the early 70's but still better equipped for off road use. Though the thing had a strengthened transmission and beefed up axle shafts and joints. Their transmissions are the preferred choice for off road vw enthusiasts. Although it was only sold on our shores for 2 years, it was produced into the 80's in other markets as the VW Trekker, with surprisingly few updates and amenities added! Personally I want to know where I can rent one!