Live Auctions

Ran 20 Years Ago: 1973 Volkswagen Thing

Details are scarce on this 1973 Volkswagen Thing, an obvious barn find listed for sale on an auctioneer website and located in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin. The Thing looks mostly complete despite being an obvious non-runner and stored for years, with the listing details confirming that it last ran twenty years ago. Utilitarian vehicles like these have always had a following, especially for owners who live in fair weather communities with low speeds and lots of beaches. Good, solid Things will always have a following, and despite the dust, this one looks largely complete. Find it here on with a current bid of $3,950.

Like many other air-cooled VWs, the floors are likely going to need some attention, even if the Thing was never used in winter. The body panels look quite straight, and the period-correct aftermarket mags are a great look for one of these. The top doesn’t even appear to be in shambles, but it’s still likely to need some attention. The listing doesn’t provide any details on the history of the Thing, but given many of these smaller auction houses tend to oversee estate clean-outs, it seems likely they are assisting in the wind-down of a property that didn’t have any heirs interested in taking the what’s left home with them.

The interior is mostly good news as well, with bucket seats showing no tears or other major damage other than a coating of dirt, and the door panels and dash matching the exterior paint perfectly. No speakers have been rudely affixed to the door, nor are they are any signs of an aftermarket radio being jammed into the dash. Really, it looks almost entirely stock inside, as if it was never used by some surfer bros or kids who just wanted a vehicle with a removable roof. The floors don’t look crunchy in this photo, but it’s impossible to be sure without looking underneath. The Thing retains its OEM steering wheel, too.

No word on whether the engine still turns by hand, but those are easily swapped out of this unit is past recovery. Plus, many air-cooleds were on their second or third engine anyway by the time they reached this state that it’s not exactly a deal breaker if it’s not numbers matching. But given how complete and correct the rest of the Thing appears to be, it’s entirely possible the engine is the original unit. Overall, not a lot of information to go on, but there’s also very little to go wrong on a Thing other than copious amounts of rust. If this doesn’t have that problem, it could be worth a watch. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jackson S. for the find.


  1. dirtyharry

    Warning- Sexist Dumb Blonde joke, don’t read if you find that offensive (not dirty).

    A blonde is driving along the highway in her “Thing” when she sees another blonde on the side of the road standing at the front of another “Thing” with the hood up. Thinking that she may be able to help she pulls over and asks the other blonde what the problem is.
    “Well I was just driving along on the highway when suddenly the car died, I pulled over and popped the hood and saw that my engine was gone,” replied the second blonde.
    “Well not to worry,” replied the first, “I have a spare one in my trunk.”

    Like 40
    • Matt in L.A. Member

      That’s an old Corvair joke. It involved a panicked old lady driver and a mechanic. Still sexist but funny. Oh and by the way…as a blonde (who is now bald) the blonde may leave the outside of the head but it’s still pops up now and then on the inside (as air!)

      Like 5
  2. JudoJohn

    That actually looks in good shape for being pulled out of a barn. I see this going for big bucks, as there are not very many of these left in any condition.

    Like 2
    • Fred W

      I agree. It really has the look of a car that might clean up nicely.

      Like 2
  3. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Hope mine brings a lot of small bucks ! This one actually looks pretty good for the north location.

    Like 2
    • Dave

      Wish people would wash their cars.

      Like 3
      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        @Dave – But then everyone would complain that we weren’t featuring any “real” barn finds!

        Like 9
  4. alphasud Member

    That 73 is in nice shape by the looks of it. Still has the oil bath air cleaner which is a plus. Will bring good money and the 73 got the gas heater which works great in cold weather. The 74 models did not. Note to staffer please delete the political posts. Enough of that crap going around it’s nice to be on a site that discourages it!

    Like 8
    • Dave

      A local radio station gave one of these away in 1973. All you had to do was count all of the Elton John songs played over the three day Labor Day weekend. I kept track, but my buzzkiller father said that nobody would win because they’d play a song when no one was listening. Turned out I had the right count. The station was 13Q here in Pittsburgh. I would’ve had a new Thing to go to college in, but noooo!

      Like 4
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      @alphasud – All cleaned up. Thanks!

      Like 4
      • Smokey Member

        Maybe the seller could have a few barn find pictures as the car was found and THEN wash it up so we could all see exactly what it looks like. This is what I would like to see on real barn finds. This should not be much of a problem for the seller. What do the rest of you car guys think?

        Like 2
  5. Roy L

    I also ran 20 years ago, not so much today.

    Like 6
  6. lc

    Always a joy to see one of these THING’s come out of hibernation. Does look as if there has been a 95% color change with what looks like some paint mask paper still on the front fender. Mr. Rust is peeking out here and there so a good hard look is in order. Nevertheless, Thumbs up!

    Like 1
  7. Maestro1 Member

    Thank you alphasud. No political garbage here.
    It’s a good possibility and a hell of a lot of fun. Get close to it and look for rust.
    If it’s all there, buy it and enjoy.

    Like 1
  8. Burt

    Please rotate the photo of the engine compartment 180 degrees. It scared me.

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