Live Auctions

A Little Thing: 1973 VW Thing Shorty

If somebody pointed at this unusual-looking two-seater and said, “What is THAT Thing,?” well, they’d be halfway right. It’s a 1973 Volkswagen Thing that’s had a major “midsection reduction” and is now officially a Shorty. Just when you thought you couldn’t make The Thing any more quirky or unique, somebody had the notion of shortening the four-door convertible by about 30″ to create this two-door “Little Thing.” This is the fourth Shorty we’ve featured on Barn Finds this year. The other vehicles going under the knife were a ’56 Chevy Wagon (the Tri-Five Chevys, especially the wagons, are popular with the Shorty crowd), a ’71 Duster convertible, and a shrunken down ’65 Chevy Handi-Van, which looked kind of clownish. Located in LaPorte, Indiana, this ’73 VW Thing Shorty is for sale here on Facebook Marketplace for an asking price of $6,500. We’d like to thank Rocco B. for bringing this oddball offering to us at Barn Finds.

The seller doesn’t give any history or background on it and says he bought it already shortened (from a 94.5” wheelbase to approximately 65″) about five years ago and is selling it because of storage issues and not driving it very much, maybe three or four times a year. It’s current black paint job looks presentable and I’m not spotting any rust (which Things are notorious for). The only rust visible are the wheel rims, which detracts from The Thing’s overall appearance. A black roll bar has been added to this open-air runabout, and some wooden water skis are tied to the top, which I imagine are part of the sale.

Based on the dash, this Thing appears to have started out as Sunshine Yellow, one of three colors offered along with Pumpkin Orange and Blizzard White. The original bucket seats have been replaced and I’m not seeing any splits or tears in them. Since the Thing came with zero creature comforts, a wooden cup holder/armrest of sorts can be seen ‘twixt the seats. I can’t tell if those are black mats or carpet on the floor and the small area behind the front seats appears to be carpeted.

VW built The Thing on the same chassis as the pre-1968 VW Microbus and used the Beetle’s air-cooled 46-hp, 1600-cc flat four rear engine. A four-speed manual was the only transmission available. The seller says it runs good but needs the following: “the gas gauge doesn’t work, turn signals work but the indicator in the speedometer flashes once and then stays off, odometer doesn’t work (currently reads 43109). Shifting between 1st and 2nd is tricky, if not careful it can grind. Not sure if when the shift rod was shortened it wasn’t done correctly or what.” 

You don’t see many Things that have been converted into something in the Novelty category. (A Thing converted into a pickup crossed the auction block at Barrett-Jackson several years ago.) And, you don’t see a lot of VW Things, period. Only about 25,000 of these odd creatures were sold in the U.S. in 1973 and 1974, and who knows how many survived the tin worms and Father Time. No matter the number of survivors, I’m guessing this will be the only two-door Thing in the book. What do you think? Any readers out there ever owned a “full-sized” Thing??

Comments

  1. Cadmanls Member

    Maybe it was rusty in the middle, or ??? See absolutely no reason to create a two door Thing, but there it is! Second gear synchro is probably gone.

    Like 5
    • Edward Sel

      They prefer a coupe – there’s your reason.

  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Waste of a good thing… or Thing.

    Like 5
    • Rw

      Maybe they saved what was left of a bad thing,that makes it a good thing correct?

      Like 4
      • Edward Sel

        Keep people from asking them for a ride – “Sorry, no room – bye!”

      • Edward Sel

        Maybe it was just too much of a good thing.

        Like 1
  3. alphasud Member

    The person who created this must have thought “A Thing of beauty and a joy forever” after they got done with this creation. So sad. Take it away I can’t look at it anymore!

    Like 2
    • Edward Sel

      just wait til you drive it!

  4. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Why? Why? Why?!! 🤦🤦🤦

    Like 3
    • Edward Sel

      Because it’s ideal for those short hauls!

  5. CCFisher

    Come on, guys… this isn’t a “Thing Shorty,” it’s a “Thingy.”

    Like 3
    • Edward Sel

      “Thing-o-ma-jig.”

      • SubGothius

        More like “Thng”.

    • FOG

      Thong

      Like 1
  6. BlondeUXB Member

    Size doesn’t matter…

    Like 2
    • Edward Sel

      It’s what you do with it that counts!

      Like 2
  7. MarkO

    Man, that THING is FRUNKED UP!

  8. Edward Sel

    Hey now – take another look – look at how much wider the rear wheelbase is than the front wheelbase – like an extra one foot – at least… what would that do to the handling – make it track like a sportscar, or want to “lift, turn and dump” like an unhappy horse? The turning radius – at least at slow speeds, might allow you to zero in on a fire hydrant (light pole, etc.) – and look at the long front trunk – what other vehicle of that length would have that much trunk space – kind-of like the VW type 3 or wagon – I always liked the big trunk in front. This Thing is MAYBE a bit longer than the Suzuki Samurai, but it has the same behind-the-seat storage AND a full-size trunk in front, with the handy spare tire there too – maybe it runs like a sand rail where you pop wheelies…might have to put some sand bags in front or plate steel or something…and what of the soft top? Can you cut that to fit too, I wonder, or does a custom top have to be made, because it might look pretty snarky with the top on – and once you got the (essentially) weather-proof top then you could upgrade the seats – and maybe get one of those springy “whip” antennas for that German “Commando” look.

    So, technically, it looks like they (could) cut the body off just in front of the BACK doors (adjusting for the floor pan, shifter, etc.,), cut the drive shaft, move the whole thing up and weld it back together so that those 2 doors are actually the back doors…I wonder what this Thing would read like if you put it on a modern frame machine (with lazer sights)…did they do it so it’s still true, or does it wander down the road like a horse with one blinder on? And when you put the brakes on, better have a good grip on the wheel?

    Anybody?

    Like 1
    • SubGothius

      No driveshaft to cut, being rear-engined RWD. If you look closely at the door sill in pic #6 showing the interior, you can see what looks like a welded seam where they probably cut just in front of the diagonal portion of the front and rear door sills and spliced the remaining ends together. Front and rear doors are interchangeable on each side, so it doesn’t matter which became the sole doors here.

      • Edward Sel

        No, but it will tell you where they made which cuts (i.e., did they cut the front or rear section out – and I wasn’t sure that it was rear-wheel drive, but I guess that’s typical for vw’s, thingy or not.

      • Edward Sel

        That’s what I said.

  9. Edward Sel

    And if you paint those wheels to match I think it would do quite a bit to “incorporate”/lessen the high “stubby” visual impact.

  10. CycloneJeff Jeffrey Brammer Member

    What do you do when you have so much rust on the floor pan and your project comes up short? Hmmmm!

    Like 1
  11. chrlsful

    “…25K imported…”? They must have been all around me in early ’70s in E. MA then. Hadn’t seen 1 since a ‘TV daughter’ (“Us Twins” or some such show) had one.

    Looks all outta proportion now, hood way too long. Probably mid engine now (isnt it in frnt of the axel?)? Rip out ANY rug(s) spray in bed liner, but all a waste of time, $ now as there is no bed in this. I hate non-frame tied roll bars (false sense of security) as they R More dangerous…

    • SubGothius

      Still rear-engined, as they just cut a section out of the middle and brought the remaining ends together.

      Like 1
    • Edward Sel

      The inners bolt onto the engine-mount rails so that on a roll-over the whole she-bang goes up in a ball of flames – quick release 4-way stock car safety harness is your best bet there.

    • Edward Sel

      That’s what I said.

  12. Rw

    Hot Wheels tooned series.

    • Edward Sel

      RUH-Roh!

  13. Rw

    I would rather have this that Polaris RZR or a jacked up golf cart to peddle around in.

    Like 1
    • Edward Sel

      No rear-deck mounted Rat Patrol Machine gun for you, Bueller!

      Like 1
  14. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    What surprises me is how easy this was to create, very little finishing body work required, yet I don’t know of any other shortened Things being built. I guess there are not a lot of people wanting to do the shortening, or perhaps there are simply no solid-body Things left to shorten.

    Like 1
    • Edward Sel

      Yes Bill, but I would still want to put this Thing-O on a frame machine and make sure it wasn’t “sprung” and welded back out of whack. I saw they are coming out with a Manx electric dune buggy soon, so, “hey hey we’re the Monkees!”

  15. Frank

    When I was about 12 my aunt and uncle lived in Pomeroy Ohio. There was a neighbor that had a shorty split windshield pick up. My cousin said it was souped up and it would do a wheelie. I, of course, called bs and the neighbor promptly took it out into the road and hung the front wheels about four feet in the air. That was when I learned to respect the little VW. I’ll bet this one would do the same with a little hot rodding.

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