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Short Thing: 1974 Volkswagen Thing Shorty

If you have time for just one short thing, check out this 1974 Volkswagen Thing Shorty! This strangely appealing custom-chop looks like it was done well and just needs some finishing up, paint-wise and a few other things. It’s on craigslist with an asking price that’ll leave your checkbook short: $7,400! It’s in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I love this photo, it looks like a cross between a Norman Rockwell piece and something out of Doc Frankenstein’s lab. The photo above was taken in 1982 after this Thing was bought from the original owner in San Antonio, Texas and brought back to Minneapolis and shortened. Hmm.. I wonder if they would have added two more doors instead of taken two away?.. hmm.. (scratching chin).. (insert dream sequence here, and photoshopped image below)..

The VW Thing was officially known as the Type 181 and they were manufactured from 1968 to 1983. They were named the Thing for 1973 & 1974 for the US market.

There aren’t a lot of decent photos in the ad, and really only two overall exterior photos, which seems strange for such a small vehicle that shouldn’t have a problem fitting in almost any viewfinder. The seller says that the front door closes on the rear door latch and the driver sits in the rear seat. I could almost use that configuration in some vehicles, at least the rear seat part. It has a sedan transmission and a Hurst shifter, but sadly there are no other interior photos and no engine photos other than one barely showing the rear engine hatch open from quite a distance away. It reportedly “drives perfectly despite length.” Could you see yourself driving this short Thing or would you prefer a normal-sized one?



  1. Josh Staff

    Man, when I first looked at it, I thought there was something wrong with my eyes! It’s so wrong that I actually kind of like it.

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  2. jcs

    Interesting: “…runs perfectly…Come visit Minneapolis and TOW it home.” If it runs so perfectly why would it have to be towed home?

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    • Spridget

      It may run, but would you drive it on the highway? :p

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    • Dolphin Member

      Spridget is right. I wouldn’t want to drive it on the highway. The wheelbase and track look to be about the same. That would give it poor directional stability at highway speeds. Any vehicle without a fair bit more wheelbase than track is going to have a tendency to change direction fast even with modest steering inputs. It probably won’t take much before a vehicle like this will spin if speed is high and steering inputs are quick.

      Maybe OK as a novelty vehicle or one you use mainly at low speeds as a beach buggy, but don’t take it out on the Interstate…….

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    • DW

      You guys are overthinking. You’d tow it home ’cause you went to pick it up with your 1998 Suburban and towing VW’s is really easy. Put it in neutral, attach a tow bar to that very cool railroad rail on the front bumper and go. A shorty Thing would be so light that a trailer is gonna double your tow weight.

      Me? I’d fly down and drive it. Because I wanna see people’s faces as they snap pics and wave lol.

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  3. sir mike


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  4. JW454

    “And tow it home”. That should tell you something. In stock form these are worth a few bucks. As it is, I can’t say. It depends on the buyer.

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  5. Joe Haska

    Lived in Mazatlan Mex. for a number of winters, this would have been so cool for a beach cruiser!

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  6. Mark S


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  7. JW

    I never liked these short or long, just seemed cheaply built. The truck stop outside of the town I lived in northern Illinois had one gutted and used it for there buffet bar, lights worked and tires aired up. Best use I thought for one.

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  8. Mr. Bond

    I like it a lot more than the regular one. We used to build dune buggys with VW suspension and drive components. We built tube frames that were about this long. Great off roaders for cutlines. This would be the more civilized version for my older bones!! Just a bit too expensive for me.

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  9. JACKinNWPA Jack in NW PA Member

    I like it. My youngest son and I started a two door Thing only we took 2 doors and made one 8 inches longer than stock for better proportions than this one. Built an integrated roll bar and a pick up style bed. Sadly it is still a project very far into a corner of the garage. College, parents split, move to Fl., get married etc. perhaps one day we can finish it. Than can happen.

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  10. Howard A Member

    I’d like to welcome Scotty back, I’ve missed his wacky ( and not so wacky) contributions. He’s had a terrible bout with the flu, and has been under the weather, if that’s possible ’round here. I hope he gets better soon, wish him well.
    I’ve said it before, give a Minnesotan a welder and a torch, and the sky’s the limit. This “Thing”, not the best creation I’ve seen from these enterprising folks. These weren’t very good to begin with. Patty and Selma would be very upset. ( can’t see it here, but their vanity plate reads “MANH8TR”)

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  11. Bob Hess

    Used a rebuilt ’73 as a shop car for 5 years. Upgraded the shocks, wider wheels, and it proved to be a great parts runner. Considering a lot of the parts were for race cars it handled well the way I drove it on high speed exits off the interstate etc. Not sure I’d be doing the same with this one. The salad bar sounds like a good idea…. Oh, we did put a roll cage in ours just in case.

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  12. Peregrine Lance

    Re: Dolphin’s comment on The Thing–pls. advise an amateur: Is the wheelbase-track relationship the reason my 87 Suzuki Sidekick (and sibs) got such bad press for handling, back when? Thanks./Perry

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    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Peregrine Lance, wheelbase didn’t help along that rather tall center of gravity, didn’t make the Sidekick a lot of fans.

      All these high vehicles seem to have this issue, but I liked the Sidekick, heck I miss Suzuki. They had a big truck I liked, now out of the US market.

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      • Scott Staff

        The Suzuki truck was a rebadged Nissan Frontier

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  13. OA5599

    Not a good Thing.

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  14. rando

    You say appealing, I say appalling. Looks scary for anything other than beach/trail running

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  15. DrinknGasoline

    Koolest “Thing” about it is, the Afrika Korps embellished doors.

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  16. Car Guy

    Popular opinion is a long thing is more useful than a short thing………

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  17. Larry McNaughton

    I drove a few of those back in the day, rough ride and no heat if I remember.

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  18. Scott Staff

    Rommels Afrika Core symbol on the door??

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