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Something In The Barn: 1974 Volkswagen Thing

Whenever it seems like the amount of actual barn finds is waning, more seem to surface! This 1974 VW Thing is a real barn find wearing the barn grime to prove it! This VW is certainly a project, but is being presented in complete condition with the issues outlined by the seller. There was a time when these vehicles were one of the quintessential summer vehicles, and while they are now seen less often, that hasn’t changed. Find it here on eBay in Michigan with bidding at $3,325 and just under two days left on the auction. 

There are no direct interior shots provided, so all the information about that will have to be deduced from the photos we have that show some of it. From the pictures we have, it looks like the interior is complete and in decent enough shape to repair and recover at the very least.  From the ad, “All seat frames are in tact, but will need to be re-upholstered.” The seller does state that the floor pans are rusted through and will need to be replaced, so it is safe to assume that the entire floor pan is in rough shape. The seller also states that there is no top and the keys are missing, but a brand new key and ignition cylinder are included in the sale.

The “Thing” people have always loved about old VW variants is the interchangeability of the drivetrain components. For example, if you know how to work on a Beetle, you probably know how to work on this Thing! The seller does not know the condition of the engine, but states that the engine turns freely and is complete. According to the ad, “It’s not currently running (though I believe it could be with a good flushing, & a few tests before firing it up).”

Despite the floor pan rust, the seller states “Other than the floorpans & one rocker corner near the driver’s side rear door, this Thing is NOT rusty, and there are virtually NO dents or dings!” While it isn’t exactly rust-free, by comparison to other project examples this Thing is in very restorable condition. An enthusiast looking for a Thing would certainly get their money’s worth out of this car! Would you be up for it?


  1. Andy

    I would never let engine trouble dissuade me from an air cooled VW project; they’re easier to swap than to fix, and fresh long blocks are easier to find than organic eggs. I still wouldn’t trust one without some kind of backup, like a Toyota, but VW’s will probably always be cheap and rewarding projects. And who wouldn’t love a Thing!

    Like 1
    • Rabbit

      These were neat, coming from an old ACVW guy. My issue is the rot. Things (Safaris for out of the US) are not nearly as easy as Beetles to fix rot repair on, but I’ll bet I’ve actually still got a good running 1600 up in the loft. Def a summer-only cruiser north of the Mason-Dixon line, but could make a nifty Dad n kid project…

      Like 0
  2. Solosolo UK KEN TILLY Member

    Not as a gift, thank you very much.

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  3. lurch

    Me like thing!

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  4. Pappy

    Link? Thanks!

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  5. Michael

    My 74 VW Safari I keep in Mexico. Loud and slow, but never stops running.

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    • Miguel

      I see Jalisco plates. Are you in Guad, or PV?

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      • Michael

        PV close to Conchas Chinas. Next to Almar Resort.

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  6. JW

    A truck stop off I-39 outside of Mendota, IL. uses a gutted one of these as a salad bar for their restaurant. It has working headlights and taillights. I never cared for these so I thought it was the best use for one. JMHO take it or leave it.

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  7. Adam T45 Staff

    In the 1960s VW Australia developed its own version of these called (rather imaginatively) the VW Country Buggy (as pictured). The pre-release promotional information claimed that it was going to be a “go anywhere” vehicle with amphibious capabilities. As development continued the parent company demanded that the amphibious capabilities be dropped, which VW Australia did very quietly. Unfortunately they were perhaps a bit too quiet about it, as following release more than one motoring journalist drove a Country Buggy down a boat ramp and proceeded to sink. Oh dear!

    The Country Buggy was also a sales failure, and like the vehicle itself, it sank VW Australia who sold less than 2000 of these before closing local manufacture of all VW products and switched to being solely an importer.

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  8. Joe

    Rear fenders are not original.

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    • John

      Came to comment on the hideous rear “fenders.” Is the bar behind the rear seat cut? I thought that went all the way across.

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  9. David Miraglia

    any VW will do

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  10. Miguel

    I wonder how much the importation fee would be from Mexico to the US on these cars.

    You can get a nice one for around $5,000 or $6,000 USD.

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    • Tracy

      You don’t get a “nice” thing in the US for 5-6k

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      • Miguel

        I am not in the US.

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  11. Rusty

    The interior may be ‘complete’ by some definition, but the back seat is from some other kind of car. Thing back seats have split backrests that folks to provide a flat load floor. The backs of their backrests are covered in sheet metal. I tried to sleep back there once, back in the day. It was cramped, hard and cold.

    Those rear fenders look homemade, and since they are painted to match the car, the whole “thing” has probably been painted. That would also explain the lack of rust below the B pillars. :)

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  12. JACKinNWPA Jack in NW PA Member

    What some may not know is that the floor pans can be replaced with aftermarket Karmann Ghia pans, rough but still worthy of a driver restoration.

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  13. EHide Behind

    Bought a Type 181 in 72, 73 model, with padded roll bar, mini winch, twin floor mounted rear brake levers, leather VW shift knob, extra spark plug for gas heater, forust over 2K including tax and Lic.
    Things are all over Mexico with some clubs numbering in hundreds. Great fun vehicle for running hills winshield down hunting coyotes. Went everywhere but lacked stock hp on realy long steep sand dunes, realy got a 35-60 mph run at em.
    WORST run out was under rear seat where battery was located.
    Fan constantly blew fuses, cooked in front froze in back.
    COULD skip across shallow traveled river if hit them fast enough.
    For hunting: With top up room behind seats for large blacktail deer , make sure dead first.
    HAD TO backdown from large black bear almost hit one night while ridge running, as it ambled in road ahead of me and friend About 40 mph, and stopped three foot and damned thing came and put paws on hood.
    Should of bought it.

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  14. EHide Behind

    PS pissers ran off air from front spare tire under hood.

    Like 0

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