Home » What to look for when buying a VW Thing?

What to look for when buying a VW Thing?

When buying a VW Thing or Type 181, you must consider some things that may influence the purchase price. It is a very specific vehicle that requires the necessary attention, and the parts are not all equally easy to obtain.

  • Check the VIN (stamped on the tunnel under the back seat.
  • Is the windshield frame rusted and rotted? Examine the bottom of the frame closely. 
  • Do the wipers work? The wipers and (wiper) motor are Volkswagen Thing-specific. The motor is quite rare and expensive. 
  • Is the gas-fired heater functioning? Are all the parts, including the controls, present? These VW Thing parts are hard to find. 
  • Check the VIN (this time the VIN plate is located under the hood – do the numbers match?).
  • Check under the hood for nose damage. 
  • Make sure that the front beam is in good shape. This is also a Volkswagen Thing-specific part, so very expensive and rare (if you want an original).
  • Are the front fenders straight? Replacements are becoming scarce – particularly the left side of the vehicle. 
  • Check for rust spots under the battery. 
  • Are the side mirrors correct? There are some bad repros out there. Good ones are really expensive. 
Picture of a VW thing front
VW Thing front

Check the VW Thing extensively for rust

Some typical rust spots: the body pan, especially under the battery. The rocker panels and the rear wheel wells behind the rear seats.

  • Are the side curtains present and accounted for? How do they look and fit? The stock windows are plastic, but aftermarket glass is a plus.
  • Is the convertible top frame straight? Is the header bow rusty? What shape is the top in? 
  • The stock motor should have a serial number that begins with “AM”.
  • The stock exhaust should come through two holes in the bumper. 
  • The stock transmission should have a serial number that begins with “AV”.
  • Stock wheels are 14” and have no slots.
  • Check the bodywork around the wheels, these places often have rust.
  • Also check the side panels for rust. 
  • Check the VIN (a sticker on the door pillar, often removed during repairing).
Picture of a Volkswagen Thing rear
Volkswagen Thing rear

Picture of a Volkswagen Thing

Picture of a Volkswagen Thing type 181
Picture of a Volkswagen Thing (Type 181)
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