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For $22,500, is this the ultimate driving thing?

Illustration for article titled For $22,500, is this the ultimate driving thing?
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

BMW drivers are sometimes accused of using their cars to compensate for other, very small, things. Despite being covered with BMW-ness, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe very large Thing doesn't seem to be compensating for anything. However, will you find its price too much compensation for such a thing?


Putting on airs, that's what they call it when one tries to act above one's station. Yesterday, we had a Ford Country Squire that had delusions of pomposity sporting both a lot of Rolls Royce and - unfortunate for the seller - a 91% Crack Pipe loss for its hair-under thirty-three grand price tag.


And today we have a 1974 VW Thing that has been porcine lipsticked into a sort of faux BMW death trap beach buggy.

Illustration for article titled For $22,500, is this the ultimate driving thing?

You may recall the Thing, or Type 181 Kurierwagen as it was officially denoted. Ralph Nader anointed it his next target after slaying the mighty Chevy Corvair, and his incessant whining advocacy for new safety standards meant the death knell for the slow-selling and slow-moving four-seater in 1975.

But before then the Thing became the vehicle of choice for the Simpsons Patty and Selma Bouvier, and the basis for this BMW badge fest. The 181 has become somewhat of a coveted object among VW customizers, and a lot like to let their Things hang out at the various Bug-ins, Bug O Ramas, and VW Nationals, where this Thing has picked up a number of trophies for its brand bending look.


Visually, there's no hiding a Thing, and if the BMW badges, wheels and seats were an attempt to disguise this vehicle for the witness protection program, then it better watch its back. While looking ass-ward, it may notice that even though heavily festooned with blue and white roundels, the Bayerische Motoren didn't Werke its way to the engine compartment. Despite the potential for some interesting BMW engine transplants, under hood there still resides VW's shrill flat four, here in 1800-cc form, and fed by a forever alone single barrel carb.

Illustration for article titled For $22,500, is this the ultimate driving thing?

Hey, but it sure is clean in there, and both parts and reliability of the VW engine and its claimed fresh four-speed gearbox should trump anything from BMW. The rest of the car matches the engine bay in cleanliness and the white with flurries of pin-striping paint job looks to be in Bug-in shape. Atop the four side curtain doors is VW's fiberglass top, making this Thing a hardtop convertible long before the factory got in the act with the 3-series and Z4. Under that are a pair of BMW sport seats and a three-spoke wheel. Behind that, the Speedo indicates that this Thing has done 62K over its brand-confused life.

Illustration for article titled For $22,500, is this the ultimate driving thing?

The Thing has become a more common sight at VW shows, sporting every kind of customization from nazi-themed rat rods to, well, this one that thinks it's the X5's great great grandfather. As they were never sold in great numbers, your choices today should you want to buy one remains limited, and as always, you'd want to pick up the best one your money could allow. Whether that happens to be this one is questionable, and a big part of the decision would obviously lie in its $22,500 price tag, a premium for any Thing, but of course potentially reasonable considering all the BMW paraphernalia adorning it.


What do you think, is $22,500 a price that should make someone slip this guy's Thing into their garage? Or, is that price the only thing BMW about this Thing?

You decide!


San Francisco Bay Area Craigslist or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to rearended for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.

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Lars Vargas was hoping 2020 would be quieter

I was hoping against hope that a Thing body had been grafted onto an E30 (complete with suspension and drive train) or something similar and awesome. That would at least get the bitter flavor of bile out of my mouth.

This sure is a nice Thing, but a few BMW trim accessories and wheels with adapters do nothing but to confuse things. A bit like that scene in "The Crying Game". Well, not exactly. You kind of know what's underneath the bonnet going into this one, but you get the point ... it's still a disappointment and a somewhat expensive one at that.

Seriously, a handful of Roundels, a set of used wheels, and some seats does NOT triple the value of a $7,500 vehicle. It's unnecessary adornment. I could buy a nice thing for $5,000 and spend $2,500 in Faux-M-W merchandise. A weekend of some wrench turning and I have the clone of this thing for 66.666% off. And I've got $15,000 left over.

Better yet, Spend $5,000 for a nice Thing and call it a day. Keep the other $17,500 AND your dignity.