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For $23,897, Could This Custom Rotary-Powered 1973 VW 181 Be Your Thing?

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Have you ever contemplated the eventual mechanism of your own demise? It could very well look like today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe VW Thing. Look alive and let’s see if this rotary rocker is worth living it up.

Wow, after yesterday’s 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Sportback, I think ing its EVO or GTFO for most of you. Many derided the lesser Lancers as less desirable than a discarded yogurt cup lid. Be that as it may there was a bit of a Bradley Effect in the voting and that wagon carted home a respectable 56% Nice Price win. Good for it.


I’d like to stop for a sec and take a moment to say Bienvenido to our new Univision overlords. I want them to know that I think the Mastretta MXT is possibly the best car ever made, and that Saturday nights have been a little less great since Sábato Gigante ended its run.

Okay, do you think that was enough sucking up? Yeah, me too.


You know what two cars Ralph Nader really hated? That’s right, one was the first-generation of Chevy Corvair. The other was the VW 181, what we in America called the Thing. Nader really had it in for cars that didn’t conform to what might be considered conventional handling and safety standards. I’ll bet he’s never enjoyed delicious Fugu either, or been in a relationship with Amber Heard.

The Thing was a bit of a parts bin car, taking bits from the Type 1 Beetle, the Bus, and a floor pan from the Karmann Ghia. Tail lights came from the Beetle, as did the front turn signals, but the fun was all 181.

That fun included being not only a four-door convertible, which elevated it into the rarified company of cars like the ‘60s Lincoln Continental, but also being one of the few cars that allowed you to go even more naked by removing those four doors and flipping down the windscreen. Of course doing all that left you exposed to the elements and every eye-level bug in your path. It also made the car even more of what Nader somewhat hysterically referred to as a “death trap.”


This 1973 VW Thing makes some concessions to safety, offering up a family-style eight-point roll bar, and dune buggy bucket seats that might do a better job in holding you in the car when undertaking exuberant exhibitions of your talent. Perhaps to counter that nod to the nanny state, it also rocks a turbocharged Mazda engine in its ass.


Now, the ad says that it’s a ‘four cylinder’ but also that it’s an ‘RX’ and there’s a Rotary badge on the back. Yeah, if I were a betting man I’d go with Wankel here. Whatever it is you can bet that it’s a hell of a lot more pony-packing than the original VW mill and so there is a greater likelihood that this Thing will kill you if you’re not careful or are immortal.

Along with the Mazda motor there’s a four-speed stick and cutting brakes. The nose has been replaced with a screen for the radiator and the whole thing looks like it has been professionally built.


The paint is clean, the interior is tidy, and there’s a CB radio just in case you want to talk to Burt Reynolds. The ad says that the car has but 27,000 miles on the clock and that it’s been built like a dune buggy so not all of the future miles need be on the road.


Prices on Things have gotten crazy high. This one asks $23,897, and it’s now time for you to vote on whether that’s a deal or not. What do you think, could this Thing swing $23,897? Or, is that too much to pay to go out in this style?

You decide!


eBay out of Dublin OH, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to THE_PUN_STOPS_HERE for the hookup!

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