Buying a VW Thing - Model Variants

Autos & TrucksTrucks

  • Author Andrew Whitehead
  • Published October 22, 2008
  • Word count 464

Originally built for the German Federal Army (Bundeswehr) as a stop gap the VW Thing is available in four variants as described below:

TYPE 181

This is the Official Volkswagen factory designation for the left hand drive VW Thing. Originally built for the German Federal Army (Bundeswehr) as a designated multi-purpose vehicle. In the German market it is known as the Kubel or Kubelwagen, the same as its predecessor from World War 2.


In 1973 and 1974 28,930 units of the VW Thing were exported to the United States. These models were basically the standard Type 181 Thing. There were however differences from the Safari model. This included full emissions equipment on the engine, following the chassis number was the letter X for export and on the left centre door pillar a U.S. DOT sticker. Originally they were to carry the title of Type 181 however VW wanted the model to be known as the Safari. Unfortunately General Motors "owned" the use of "The Safari" in the US market, having used it on Pontiac Station Wagons from 1955.

With this situation Volkswagen of America therefore settled on calling the Type 181 as "The Thing". This official title was supported in VW literature and in 42 states DMV registrations. The VW Thing was on sale in Canada and several other markets, they were trans-shipped from the United States after delivery.


Available in 1974, the VW Thing "Acapulco" model was a stock VW Thing with a few minor trim changes. The body work was painted blue & white with a matching interior & running boards were also fitted, they came with either a hardtop or soft top and usually a surry top.


Produced for the Mexican domestic market the Safari was also exported to countries to the south of Mexico. So that the Safari could run on lower grade Premex gasolines the Mexican domestic engines all had low compression pistons installed.

TYPE 182 (Trekker)

The VW Thing in right hand drive format was produced for the UK market, as demonstrators, made to specific order or for military use in countries where right hand drive was the standard and was designated the Type 182. Only relatively small numbers of type 182s were produced and the type 182 was officially sold in Britain by VW dealers in 1974-75, under the name "Trekker". This followed a competition held by Volkswagen UK to "name the car" due to dealers objecting to the "VW Thing" name. Press reports at the time that 300 were being imported are contradicted by records of surviving chassis numbers showing less than 100. This was probably due to overpricing and therefore did not sell very well. Made in Mexico (not Germany), generally to 1974 THING specification, but with European rear-lights and front flashers.

If you are looking to purchase a VW Thing then please visit

Andy is a self confessed Auto Nut and has owned and restored several makes and models in the past twenty years. Andrew has taken his interest a step further with his websites &, and creating Automobile based articles for other peoples interest and enjoying himself in the process! Andrew is still new at this so any feedback would be appreciated as the quality of his articles is important to him!

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