VW Thing general questions

VW's aircooled mini SUV. Great for riding in the country, or cruising the beach.
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VW Thing general questions

Post by dcg9981 » Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:45 am

I recently had a VW Thing dropped off at my house to work on for a friend of a friend. Ive owned a few Golfs and Cabriolet in my time but never a Thing. This guy claims it to be a 1978 model. I cant seem to find any reference to a model from 1978. I found 1973, 1974 even a few in 1975 and 76. Wikipedia says they were made back then though. I found a chassis stamp ( *1882023743 ), that's all i can make out, cant find anything to reference this number to and get info from it, can anyone help me out here.
also looks like it has a stamp that says Made in Mexico in Spanish just under the number. Anytime you go to any parts web sites it only shows 1973 and 1974, whats with that?

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Re: VW Thing general questions

Post by Marc » Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:24 pm

Things were made in Hanover Germany through 1983, and through 1980 in Mexico & Indonesia - they just couldn't be imported into the US anymore starting in 1975 due to safety regulations.
Not much literature is around on the post`74 cars in the USA (they were called "Safaris" in Mexico) - there may be some unique parts which you'll find difficult to source, but if it's IRS I'd expect it to be 98% the same as a `74 US model. What parts do you need to find for it?

Early-style ("military") 181's used swingaxle rear suspension and ½-ton Bus reduction boxes...

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Re: VW Thing general questions

Post by champagne superbeetle » Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:09 pm

dcg9981 wrote:...This guy claims it to be a 1978 model. ... I found a chassis stamp ( *1882023743 ), ... also looks like it has a stamp that says Made in Mexico in Spanish just under the number. Anytime you go to any parts web sites it only shows 1973 and 1974, whats with that?
Yes, it is a 1978 model that was made in Mexico. For the most part, it will share parts for any US-spec Thing. The differences between the 1973 model and the 1974 model are few. The '73 had a gas heater; the '74 had heater boxes linked to the exhaust like US-spec Beetles. The '78 may not have any heater being a late Mexican model. There was a difference in the exhaust, too, because of the differences in the heating system. (Some Canadian and a few US Things had the gas heater, too, in '74 but this is rare.)

The '73 had the outside mirrors mounted to the front doors. The '74 mirrors were mounted in front of the front doors so the mirrors would still be in place. The '78 will likely mimic the '74.

Mexican-built Type 181s had a change to the steering wheel spline mid-model year in '74. The '78 should share the later-'74. Some Rabbits (Golfs) and Sciroocos of the '70s will share the steering wheel spline size, too. Not sure about Dashers (Passats) of that era. The German-built Beetles and Super Beetles went through the same changes in the same years. Not sure about Mexican-built Beetles, but I would be leery even though it would seem logically the same.

The rear fender louvers were exposed on the '73 model whereas the '74 had "muffs" that extended out from the fender with louver opening in them on top. I'm not sure if that was an American aberration or if that change was throughout all Mexican manufactured Type 181s after '73.

Although I have only seen a few Mexican models post-'74, I don't recall anything they had that was specific to the later year. If anything, Mexican models were more likely to have omissions. German-made models were usually done in small batches, and were a little more prone to being unique -- but even then in the most subtle of ways. (I had my eye on a 1980 model -- factory black with factory white high-back seats. It lasted two days being for sale. Rats! It was beauty.)

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