Stored Since 1999: 1973 Volkswagen Thing


In the classic “flipper” picture above with car on trailer, this “Thing” looks like it’s pretty sad, but the New Beetle behind it seems to be smiling as it is trailered off to a new home. Maybe it knows one of you might be interested in trailering it to your house? It’s located in Sevier, Tennessee and is for sale here on craigslist for $5,500.


Rust is a common problem with Things, and this one is no exception. The advertisement says this 1973 model has been sitting since 1999, but there’s no explanation as to whether or not that is indoors or outside. The seller specifically mentions that it needs floor pans and has rust above the jack points, and based on the pictures you’re going to be fixing more than just that.


Yes, there’s rust on the front as well. Based on the underhood and under engine lid views, as well as the paint poking through the red, this was originally a white car. If you return it back to white, that will fit in nicely with the white fiberglass hardtop. There’s no information on whether a soft top is included with the sale.


The seller tells us the seats look nice, and I guess they do, or at least the front does. I think that’s bare seat spring in the rear I see in the picture, so I’m not sure about the back seat at all. The mangled steering wheel center doesn’t fill me with confidence either. It does come with a gas heater, so that’s something slightly civilized, although I’m not sure I’d be comfortable using it–anyone have experience with them?


Being a Volkswagen flat four, there’s probably not too much to worry about engine-wise even if there are issues, but the engine actually looks better than the rest of the car. It would be nice to know whether or not it’s seized. I’d certainly want to inspect this one before paying anywhere near the asking price, and while Things have been going up lately, I think this one’s priced quite high. Do you agree, and would you consider trailering this one home?


  1. randy

    I think flippers believe that a pic on a trailer is like a “trophy”. “Look what I just stold’ er I mean bought”. How much will you pay me for this? I like the baby blue Things better.

  2. David C

    The gas heaters are very reliable and easy to repair and work on. (not complicated)
    I’ve never been a fan of the thing but I can’t say I wouldn’t buy one if the price was right just to flip it. I do love all things air cooled. These things fixed are bringing crazy money, but so are all VW’s. The nice thing about the THING is that every part is available to make it new again. I’m always looking for VW deals, this one is a little high priced but not that far from Atlanta. I’d be tempted if it was a little closer or cheaper and I had more room in the garage! Dam-it! never enough room! I’m still asking Santa for that detached garage in back for more space. Maybe this year…

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Thanks for the information on the heaters–good to know! And I’m working on that detached garage myself…good luck!

    • Bobsmyuncle

      So refreshing to hear someone with actual knowledge comment on gas heaters!

      People forget that it is nothing short of a furnace, and obviously any of them are now at least 40 years old, and suffering a lack of maintenance.

  3. MountainMan

    Things have been steadily increasing in value but this is priced too high regardless. looks like a good one to start with overall but I think it should be priced closer to $2500-$3000 at most unless the seller is including the trailer!

    • randy

      He cannot possibly sell it that cheap, he’d only double his money!!

  4. Jason Houston

    If there’s anything uglier than a Hummer, it’s one of these Things. Pathetically dreadful!

  5. Scotty G

    I agree with MountainMan on the value of this one being $2,000ish, maximum. A car that hasn’t been driven, or even started, in a decade and a half? One that’s so rusty that it would scare even James Arness (a “The Thing From Another World” reference there)..( And, one that’s obviously had a poor color change, or a poor, partial color change? Jeez. This car needs $15,000 in work just to be a $10,000 vehicle. No disrespect to the seller, but I wouldn’t pay $500 for this example, there’s just too much rust and too much work to be done here for my restoration skill level.

  6. Mark S

    this VW Thing will need to come completely apart to chase out the tin worm if your going to do it yourself you better start with buying a case of penitrating oil and your going to need a TIG welder to weld sheet metal into this car, and lots of time to spend on it. Don’t do it if your looking to make money on it, do it because you want to have a VW Thing. As for there appearance they are styled after a ww 2 German jeep, so they’re supposed to be ugly.

  7. Matt Tritt

    The Type 181 was rebranded as the “thing” for the US market, but was developed and used by German police and miltary for a few years before being made available to the public. I had a new 74 in 75, a yellow one with the standard engine heated heater, that I absolutely loved. When new they were tight as a drum, got good MPG and would go almost anywhere a Jeep can go, especially in sand or snow. I paid $3,000. for mine with 960 miles on it, from the VW dealer, which turned out to be a good thing because of the issues they had. The top had to be replaced because of some kind of bitumastic ooze that was triggered by a 100 degree day, which acted as a kind of mini la Brea Tar Pit for insects. The entire front axle beam had to be replaced becaus some bozo at the Mexican assembly plant had stripped the threads on the chassis bolts. The transmission had to be removed and the bearings changed, thanks to the Czheckoslovakian-sourced mainshaft bearings with plastic sleeves. All of this was done at no cost (to me) and with no complaining from the dealer. It’s good to also remember that those great engines DID require frequent valve adjustment, which if not performed on schedule, spelled big trouble

  8. George

    Remember to buy Ghia pans.

  9. fredf

    I agree on the gas heaters. I retrofitted Corvairs with junkyard units (the 1960 had one as standard equipment) as a 17 year old kid. Despite my incompetence they worked great and safely. Especially compared to the “blow the heat from the cylinders straight into the car” Nader special heater standard in all other Corvairs. The one in my brother in law’s ’73 Thing also worked great- could heat the car up on a 20 degree day in seconds with the engine off.

  10. Bobsmyuncle

    Market value? It’s not far off the mark.

    Only an in person inspection can narrow that down. Anyone confidently saying otherwise is naive. We don’t even know the state of the engine or extent of the rust.

    I realize values on vehicles can differ geographically, but the general consensus from contributors on just about every feature here, is that everything is over priced.

    I don’t know if you guys are all cheap, or have just been out of the market too long. In this case keep in mind a decently running 1600 DP engine can run half the asking price.

  11. yanmarley

    Bobsmyuncle – you’re only too right – I am beginning to get a tad tired of all the “wiser advisors” on this site telling us how overpriced each and every vehicle which comes up is – I wish they would include a list of the vehicles they have bought this year with price and condition so that we who are not in the know can truly see how the market is playing out. And also how much they sold them for because their “kids needed college” or whatever – as none of them are the dreaded flipper they seem to all rail on about. Anyway, rant over, have a great day y’all.

    • randy

      If I am not mistaken, we are asked our opinions on these cars by the folks that put them here. Maybe some people do not want too much light shined on their little secrets. Since you do not agree with our assessments, you are more than welcome to show examples of where we are wrong by past sales of said vehicles.
      Just because we do not buy and sell 25 cars a year, does not mean we do not know the value of them. There are always exceptions and surprises. How about you give us your list?

      • Bobsmyuncle

        How can anyone clearly and confidently decide the value of this is too high when we don’t know if the motor runs or is a recent rebuild, or what the extent of rust is?

        For research; the

      • randy

        Well for one, the ad does not state a recent rebuild. That is something that would be included in the ad, as it would add value to the Thing. You can also look at the pics and see that this Thing was in no way cared for. This Thing is in no way worth arguing over, as neither of us will ever buy this one, and most likely will ever even own a Thing. Thing, Thing, Thing. What a strange word.

  12. yanmarley

    Oh yeah – by the way – that back seat “bare seat spring” is what the rear seat cushion sits on in a Type 181 Thing.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Thanks for the expertise!

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