What if, instead of seeking world domination, the Nazis had sought to build rat rods and hold Bug-ins? Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe master beater Thing might have been the history-changing result, but is its price as low as its roof?
You don't get a nickname like the Intimidator by being a pantywaist, and Dale Earnhardt gained his reputation being a bad motor scooter out on the track. Throughout his career, that made him one of NASCAR's top competitors, and the racing a hell of a lot more exciting. Sadly, Dale is gone, and even more depressingly, his homage Luminas are still around. At least that seemed to be the opinion of the 94% of you who decided yesterday's limited edition '93 #3 Lumina wasn't worth nearly nineteen grand to be on anybody's starting grid.
You know how Hitler tied his shoes? In little nazis. Third Reich humor is somewhat hard to come by, but today's slammed and chopped VW Thing - made out to look like something Jesse James would drive if he were both an adulterer and an Aryan - may be perceived as a joke. VW's 181, humorously called the Thing in the U.S., took the company's Type I platform and enabled it to be even less safe and secure by eliminating the roof and introducing four removable doors. Much like Chevy's Corvair, the Thing proved so vexing to safety nazi, Ralph Nader that he vociferously advocated its demise, and eventually Volkswagen acquiesced.
When it was available, the Thing came with a complicated soft top and side curtain set up for keeping the weather and bugs out, or optionally an echo-amplifying fiberglass cap in case the aircooled flat four's tinny screech wasn't loud enough. On this Kübelsitzwagen-painted Thing (complete with Iron Cross and VW -eagle emblems) that top, along with the fold-down windscreen, have been chopped by a good six inches. The car has also been slammed to the ground and sports alloy wheels bolted to its inadequate drum brakes. How do I know they're inadequate? Simple, I've driven a Thing or two over the years.
The rest of the body is done over with what some may consider a rich patina of use and age providing exquisite character, while others will consider just it all beat to hell. In fact if your thing had as much rot on it as this Thing does, you'd literally be able to tell the hooker to ‘keep the tip.' Seriously, this VW 181 looks about as palatable as an ancient can of Brew 102, but that's all affectation - part and parcel of its rat roddiness. Despite all that, the seller claims he drove both to and from the Chattanooga Bugapoluza - where he pulled a third place trophy in the custom Things category - without issue. Of course, he doesn't mention how far away from that event he lives.
He does say that the 1,641-cc, Weber-equipped motor with its ankle scorching stinger exhaust runs well, but would be willing to part with the car with another - 40-horse - engine under its lid. Other mechanical features are the VW four speed gearbox and. . . well, that's about it, these are pretty parsimonious rides. One cool add-on here is the ‘Sit on my Thing' bumper sticker which is applaudably juvenile. Sadly missing? Truck Nuts.
Obviously this Thing isn't going to be a daily driver unless you happen to be an extra from Død snø, however that doesn't mean it can't be a fun ride for weekend jaunts frightening neighborhood children and making skinheads confused. It's also ripe for whatever Bug-in, Boxer Rebellion, or other VW car show that your area might entertain, as this YouTube video doth prove:
But four grand for what's arguably the Inglorious Basterds of VW Things may seem a stretch. What do you think, does that price cross your Maginot line for value? Or, does this chopped Thing need a chopped price?
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