VW Thing- to buy or not to buy?

My future brother-in-law has a friend who is resotring a '73 Thing. He wants $4000 for it. I think Things are the coolest, but that sounds a little pricey. Anyone here with any VW Thing experience/knowledge?

I guess this is an IMHO. Altho GQ and MPSIMS seem appropriate too.

I don’t have an answer, but you might want to do a google search. You may turn up a VW Thing club.

IIRC, the Thing was a 1970s revival of the WWII German “Kubelwagen” staff car. The Kubelwagen was sort of a German version of the American “jeep”. Four wheel drive was not used because it was a light vehicle and it was thought that if it were stuck that it could be manhandled out of the situation. I think it had a 40 h.p., four-cylinder boxer-style engine.

I was in the Civil Air Patrol with a guy who owned a Thing. He painted it olive green. Since he was also an instructor at an airframe & powerplant school, he put a pilot’s joystick on the shift lever. The buttons worked. (The trigger was the horn, the left and right high-hat worked the directional indicators…) The instruments had been replaced with aviation units. (He had an airspeed indicator in stead of a speedometer.)

Just be careful not to paint it Tan or Grey. Some people might take it the wrong way.

Don’t know where you live, but one up here in Edmonton was going for over $9k in nicely restored shape a few months back (I double-checked my back issues of the Auto Trader Old Car Book). Figuring in exchange, you still appear to be getting on the cheap.

I knew a mechanic who specialized in VW’s who said the major problem with the old era cars (the Bug, Thing, Microbus and Karman Ghia types) was that the frames eventually gave out. Have someone independent check the frame for cracks, rust, etc.

I owned almost every model of VW there was in the 60’s & I would not pay $4k for a Thing. 4k would buy a pretty nice 90s car.

Im sure I could get a Thing for a lot less money. How does it look inside & outside? How much are parts (old vw parts have gone up quite a bit in the last few years)

I owned a '74 Thing for about 2 years until my first wife totalled it. I had a lot of fun with that thing (pun intended).
They were pretty basic and easy to work on, and would go almost anywhere. They used the same VW engine as the bug.
You used to be able to get a full roll cage to bolt into the back. With the back seats folded down, (the seat backs were metal), you could stand in the back with a camera mount clamped onto the roll cage and pretend to be Marlin Perkins.
The '73 had a gasoline heater that really worked, the '74 had the crappy exhaust heater all the other VWs had. I used to have to scrape ice off the inside of the windshield in the winter.
IIRC, I paid $1750.00 for it in '78 or '79.

Anyway, back to the OP, $4000.00 would be a pretty good price for one up here in Oregon these days.

If you decide to get it, you’ll have a lot of fun with it. Your SO will probably hate it though. Let us know.


How does the heater work? I have one in the 1946 Willys CJ2A I bought last month, but it’s not hooked up. The fuel line is in place; it just needs to be connected. There’s supposed to be a wire going to the coil (which is part of the ignition switch), but I haven’t looked for it yet. There’s a disc-shaped knob on the front that pulls out (the fan?) and a lever on the bottom (heat control?)

Anyway, how does it work?

(Sorry about the hijack, but I didn’t think this needs a GQ of its own yet.)


[Turning into my own grandmother]: “Volkswagen? Isn’t that the car that HITLER designed?”

Just because it has ties to Nazi Germany doesn’t mean it’s necesarrily evil. I suppose you don’t own any Japanese made products either. The fact is that a lot of technological advancement has been te result of war. Why limit ourselves to technology developed by “the good guys”?

Hey, I’m just channeling my grandmother!

A friend had one of these back about '76 or so, in my college days. His had the removeable cloth top. It was basic transportation that got you there and back. It was noisy, underpowered, and slow. It was impossible to secure anything inside. Fred had his radio stolen from the thing in broad daylight there on campus. Even though the doors were locked, someone pulled the door or window away far enough to reach in, unlock the door, and pop the radio out.

It was also a blast to drive. We took it down some motorcycle trails out in the boonies, and got places that would have been tough to get to with most any other 2WD vehicle.

If this will be your daily driver, I’d forget about it. If it’s a toy car for bombing around in the summer, then it might be fun. If you really like your sister and your almost-a-BIL, then look around and see what other Things are going for. Hemmings lists 4 of them, for $3500 to $5750.

I took no offense at your post, Eve, and I hope you took none at mine. But it did imply a certain disdain and a little jingoism.

Hey, if you can’t get jingoistic about Nazis, who CAN you get jingoistic about?

[actually, I just like saying “jingoistic”]

I wish I could tell you Johnny, but I don’t know. I had a '74. I knew a guy with a '73 who told me how great his heater worked, but he didn’t go into details about how it worked. Sorry.
BTW, congrats on finding the CJ2A. I’m envious.
BigDaddyD, RalfCoder is right, a Thing would be a blast as a second, play vehicle, but for a daily driver, it could get tedious.
And security is a problem. I fabricated a heavy steel plate radio mount that wrapped around my radio and locked with a big-assed padlock, and somebody tried to rip my $40.00 radio out of my car one night. There is a way to lock the trunk release with a padlock, believe it or not, so you could stash stuff in there.

I’m no Nazi sympatizer by any means, but you can hardly blame VW now for contributing to the war effort- unless, of course, they profitted from slave labor or other heinous deeds. So jingoize all you want about Nazis, but retroactive jingoism is a different ball of wax.

And thanks for the advice. I was thinking about commuting in it. Anyone have a good experience using a thing for everyday purposes?

I do agree that it’s fun to say ‘jingoism’. much more than ‘xenophobia’. both of which rock ‘nationalism’.

"“Volkswagen? Isn’t that the car that HITLER designed?”
But he didn’t design THE THING. duh.

Well… the Thing is a resurrection of the WWII “Kubelwagen” staff car. Here is a page with two large pictures. Thirty years lie between the VW Kubelwagen and the VW Thing; but you can see the lineage.

Here’s another page that has another photo and some technical information.

Of course, Hitler didn’t design either one. IIRC, Dr. Porsche came up with the VW. I’d assume he also had a hand in the design of the Kubelwagen as well, but I’ve not researched it.


I had a chance to buy one in VA when I was in the Navy and passed on it. I’m still kicking myself. (ow)

$4K is a probably a fair price. The one in VA was $1800 without a top or windows.

my 2¢: check the condition of those snap-in windows. the only place I found for replacements was J.C. Whitney, and they were pretty pricey. I believe they’re called “side curtains”.

I say buy it. Let’s face it, how many other vehicles make the average person say “What the hell is that?