Americans who didn't quite understand what it was and what it was for nicknamed it “the thing”. The Volkswagen Type 181 is a torpedo car built by the Wolfsburg company from 1969 to 1983. The car had different commercial names depending on the sales market, such as "Kurierwagen" in Germany and Austria, "Safari" in Mexico and South America, "Thing” in the United States, “Trekker”in the United Kingdom and “Pescaccia” in Italy. At the end of the 1950s, the French, Italian and German governments, belonging to NATO, decided to consult the major car manufacturers of the old continent in order to create a unified light military patrol vehicle, later called the Europa Jeep. Volkswagen prepared the "Type 181" project in the early sixties, but the different technical specifications released in 1966 by NATO led to its abandonment. In 1968 the "181" project was revived to meet the needs of the Mexican market which required a more strong car suitable for driving on the rough roads of that country, compared to the normal "Beetle", assembled in Puebla since 1967. Conceived on a flatbed and mechanics of the "Type 3", the car was presented at the 1969 Frankfurt Motor Show. The body, rather squared and inspired by the shape of the "Munga", rests on a platform frame with a central reinforcement beam. The engine is the usual 4-cylinder boxer derived from the 1493 cc "Beetle". The platform structure is rigid enough to allow the body to be interrupted at the belt line, without connecting superstructures or roll-bars. The soft top was supplied as standard with the curtain-on-rib system, but a plastic hard top could optionally be purchased. The characteristics of robustness and simplicity of construction made it the ideal vehicle for short journeys on rough roads or for undemanding off-road vehicles. It was unsuitable, however, for long journeys on paved roads, in which it was penalized by the reduced top speed and high driving noise. In addition to the Mexican customers, it was proposed on the European and US markets as a vehicle for leisure, along the lines of the “spiaggine”, but it was also adopted by police and army corps of various countries. In its sales period, half of its production was bought by the German army. In Italy, deliveries of the "Pescaccia" began in the summer of 1970, but the car had low selling figures due to the high sale price, set at Lit 1,550,000. Very similar to the Kübelwagen war vehicle, it also appeared in some war films as a "stunt double" for the now unobtainable Kübelwagen. Solid, essential, completely open and “fresh” (for the rear mechanics), it remains an inimitable vehicle for leisure time and short journeys in nature. With an inimitable look.
The Volkswagen type 181 with chassis no. 1852246465E was produced in 1975 at the Puebla plant in Mexico (at that time most of the production took place in Mexico, while the units assembled in Germany were mainly intended for military orders). It is equipped with the 1584 cc AL type engine for 48 hp. It was sold new in Italy with black Lucca plates. Completely restored, it is in very good condition, only some superficial scratches can be seen in the paint on the corners of the bumpers; it is original in everything. The exterior color is “Steppe Beige” (L10F) with a new black soft top. The interior is in black leatherette. The booklet was unfortunately lost, but a complaint has already been made and CRS to regularize the documents. It is still registered with the original black/orange “Potenza”plates.
State of the art
Restored. In very good condition.
Original Italian registration and plates.
Giro di Sicilia.
Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti Legend.
Coppa delle Alpi by 1000 Miglia.