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1-Of-400! 1974 VW Thing Acapulco Edition

If you’re an Air-Cooled Aficionado, you need to see this! It’s a special edition one-year-only car, and it’s available here on craigslist near Tempe, Arizona. Thanks go to Ikey Heyman for suggesting it!

The “Thing” was internally called the 181 and was created around a mishmash of existing parts and concepts, to create something truly interesting and unique in the market at the time. Volkswagen made and sold them in multiple areas of the world, with varying success, from 1968 to 1983. Imagine a vehicle that had originally been conceived during the Second World War, but has modern mechanical elements from the Beetle and Microbus, with Karmann Ghia floor pans, and updated sheet metal body – that’s pretty much the Thing in a nutshell.  On top of that, picture a special edition U.S.-only model, in turquoise-and-white, akin to the red Aspen/Volare station wagons on the TV show Fantasy Island. Limit the production of that special edition to a mere 400 units, and voilà, you have the Acapulco edition. Powered by a 1.6-liter flat-four engine, mated to a four-speed gearbox, these were definitely not the fastest nor most versatile Volkswagens ever created, but the Acapulco is definitely one of the more rare iterations. For reference, this is a link to a photo of one in pristine condition.

So, let’s dig into this one. We’re told that some fix-up work has already been done, but it will need quite a bit more to be roadworthy. We can see for ourselves that it is indeed in a sorry state, but there are still parts available, including special Acapulco top/roof parts. We aren’t told whether or not it has lived its entire life in Arizona, but at least the dry climate helped preserve the metalwork from getting too much worse.

Overall, I can’t say for sure whether or not it’s a basket-case. I’d want to look a lot closer at the body. For the $8200 or-best-offer asking price, though, I find it tough to give an outright positive or negative. A very, very nice one sold at auction for over $60,000 a few years back, and another nice one sold for $18,000 on Bring A Trailer back in February of this year. As terribly underpowered and unsafe as they are, I still find myself strangely drawn to Things – if for no other reason, their uniqueness in the automotive world. What do YOU think about this one, or about Things in general?


  1. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    Rust is a HUGE problem with these…so Arizona is a plus, if it has always lived there.

    “unsafe” ??? never heard that when I had one, what is that comment based on ??

    Like 2
  2. Joe Machado

    Tempe is where they. Restore these. Also have a Museum of these. Delivered a truck load of thingy parts a year ago there. Looks like the place. Very nice people. Everything for them is there. One stop shopping.

    Like 2
  3. Mountainwoodie

    Sorry guys,this is nothing more than a pile of parts and the seller has clearly been dipping into his stash.

    I know the reference point is often what these or any car sold for to someone with less brains than sense. But this is not more than a shell and needs everything. A thousand dollar roller. That’s being generous.

    Coincidentally, I saw a Thing yesterday that I would count as being worth the ask way more than this but I can’t post a picture anymore. So you’ll have to use your imagination but it was pretty nice.

    Like 1
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    We had a ’73 that we brought up to new status with new paint and an engine rebuild. Put 48K miles on it in a 5 1/2 year period. Added the full roll bar kit and got the stock wheels widened to 7″ and drove the wheels off it. Lot of fun and our customers loved riding in it after dropping their cars off at the shop. Good speed (tweaked the engine on the rebuild), handled good, and drew a lot of attention.

    Like 1
  5. Brandee

    I found my 1974 Thing Acapulco Edition on CL and paid $2,500! It was converted to diesel by prior owner. I’ve registered her with The Thing Registry and that’s how I got conformation that it’s a true Acapulco edition! SO Excited and can’t wait to get her back to being beautiful again.

    Like 1

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