Two-Fer Sale: 1977 Volkswagen Iltis

Who doesn’t love a two-fer sale?! If you happen to have $16,000 lying around, and really who doesn’t.. (cough).. you could buy both of these unusual 1977 Volkswagen Iltis tough utility vehicles (TUVs?). Or, if you insist on breaking up the pair, the red one is $8,500 or offer and the blue one is $7,500 or offer. They can be found on Craigslist in Walsenburg, Colorado, 160 miles south of Denver.

The VW Iltis was officially known as the Type 183 and it was a 4WD vehicle made for the German military. Bombardier, in Canada, also made around 2,500 of them for the Canadian military and a similar amount for the Belgian military. They were never officially imported into the US.

It’s a unique vehicle, to say the least. It almost reminds me of the Namco Pony. In fact, the French government, in an attempt to replace their aging fleet of Hotchkiss Jeeps, teamed up with several foreign makers to come up with a winning combination. Citroën put engines in the Volkswagen Iltis and the C-44 was born. Peugeot put engines in Mercedes G-Wagons and named them the P4, and Renault put engines into the Fiat Campagnola and named them the TM500. In the end, the Peugeot/Mercedes P4 won the contract. Just a little odd trivia there for those of you who are still awake.

The red Iltis does looks like the better of the two here, hence the $1,000 price difference. The seller has them listed as 1977 models, but really the first model year for the Iltis was 1978. They were developed by the Audi team, back in the ol’ days, before Audi required its owners to wear black turtleneck sweaters and driving gloves and to drink hand-crafted lattes while driving. Ok, I made that last part up.

They say that they’re open for offers on both vehicles and that they both run, drive, and stop. Hey, that’s a good thing, those are three pretty important considerations when a person is looking at a vehicle, eh? They’re sort like a “Thing” but with 4WD, which would make them a heck of a fun vehicle to own, there is no question about that.

It looks like the red Iltis has been gussied up a bit with some metal plate on a few sections of it, hopefully that’s more for wear than to cover up rust. You can see the floor-mounted lever for activating the 4WD system. A fun fact: the seats are actually from the VW Passat, no really! Yet another fun fact: the 4×4 components were the basis for Audi’s famous Quattro system that would debut a few years later.

This is Volkswagen’s 1.7L inline-four and it would have had around 75 hp. These vehicles weigh just under 3,000 pounds so they aren’t light, but they aren’t exactly heavy either, especially given the 4×4 bits and pieces churning around under that unusual metal skin. Have you heard of the Iltis before? It seems like it would be a great 4×4 – but, that price, yowsa!


  1. redwagon

    vw made more s&^% i have never seen before. amazing what keeps coming up. and this is not some relic of the 40s or 50s this dates to 78. ok so that’s still almost 40 years ago but i’ve never seen one of these in the metal or in a book. what else is out there?

    did you hear me scully? what else is out there?
    oh mulder get over yourself.

    Like 1
  2. Dave Wright

    I drove and rode in these while training with the British and Canadian special forces in Cold Lake Canada. They were impressive vehicles, small enough to get around well in the woods. I don’t remember ever going very fast in them but they didn’t feel under powered. They were quite nimble and rarely needed fuel. They didn’t afford much protection against small arms fire but that is not what they were designed for. I think the differentials must have had lockers as they were great off road in the crud. Fun little ATV’s.

    • Jeffro

      So Dave…special forces?

      • Dave Wright

        Yes……..USAF combat rescue…..13 years Prince Charles was at Cold lake the same time we were.

        Like 1
    • Jeffro

      Thanks for your service Dave.

  3. Dan

    Never heard of these things…kinda neat though….

  4. Bob S

    Canada sent their troops in Khadahar Province with these. Nice having your Government supply you with the best!

    • Daniel Wright

      Good lord, an I.E.D. would make a mess of both vehicle and occupants.

  5. Grid

    I sit here at 3AM, cat purring contentedly on proofread pages as I continue to type, realizing that because of folks like Dave Wright, I have this privilege. Thank you, sir.

  6. AirBoss

    First things first. Thank you for your service.

    That said, if the Iltis “were developed by the Audi team, back in the ol’ days” it means they likely rust in place.

    Good luck!

  7. Mark MacD

    Never heard of this model but it’s quite fascinating. I have to admit that I first read the name to be Ileitis (the gastrointestinal disease), not Iltis (German for Pole Cat). I wondered if the red one was Ileitis and the blue Colitis? Probably not much value as a collector’s item so get pieces and parts to make them road worthy and have fun with them.

  8. Doug

    So they cant be registered in any state and can be confiscated by the Feds? Just like the LR Defenders newer than 25 years?

    • Blyndgesser

      Wrong. These are legal (with regard to federal law) precisely because they are more than 25 years old. However, they probably still can’t be registered in California because that state does emissions testing on every gasoline powered automobile made after 1975.

  9. Doug

    Partly agree. Federal law states that you can import non-compliant vehicles into the US without meeting current safety and emission regulations if they are 25 yrs or older. However, the owner still has to have the approved DOT/EPA importation documentation to prove it was, in fact, imported legally. The OP didn’t say how they came to the US. My comment was based on the documentation requirement- owners will need this documentation to register them in the US. I’m sure there is more to this story that we don’t know.

    • Blyndgesser

      Good point. I hadn’t thought about that.

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      A long time friend of mine [a serious auto literature collector] was head of the Fed’s DOT legal office. He once told me that for individuals bringing in a single car for personal use, or for the owner’s own car collection, if they brought a vehicle in that didn’t meet DOT requirements, they were given 3 options;
      1. Export the vehicle.
      2. Have the vehicle crushed by a licensed scrap dealer [with a DOT employee watching the car being crushed].
      3. Pay a fine [$].
      He went on to say as long as the vehicle owner was honest and not trying to sneak something by the government, the typical fine was a whopping. $300. That’s not a misprint, the average fine was three hundred Dollars. This was back about 2000, so it might have risen a bit since then, but if any of you are contemplating bringing a newer vehicle in to the country for your own use, talk honestly and openly with the DOT people, and you just might be surprised.

      • Dave Wright

        That has always been my experiance……………

  10. Adam T45 Staff

    Another unusual and interesting vehicle. Scotty, you truly crack me up, but I need to correct you on one small point: They now drink double decaf low-fat soy lattes!

  11. KevinW

    This is one of the reasons I appreciate Barn Finds. Since stumbling onto this site, I have seen more unusual cars of which I never knew existed, then all the years of watching televised auto auctions and reader auto traders( back when they were an actual periodic). Thanks guys for doing a great job!

  12. Jubjub

    I have one of these albeit in 1/87 scale.

  13. Vince P

    Both of these vehicles are listed on The blue one is listed for $5750 and the red one for $6950. It pays to shop around. I believe there was also a diesel version of the Iltis which would be smog-exempt in California.

  14. Van Ackeren Luc

    The last 30 or 40 are still in use with the Belgian military. Sometimes these ILTIS cars are offered for sale, and civilians buy 3 or 4 to make one perfect and have spare parts if needed . Some of these ILTIS got donated by the Germans to FYR of Macedonia’s military ( diesel powered version).

  15. Kelly Breen

    I drove these when I was with 11 RCA in Guelph. They were amazing off road and very fast. I often drove the 401 from Guelph to the Hangars in London on Highbury. They had no problem breaking 130 km/h. The limiting factor was one’s ability to handle the flapping noise with the cloth doors and roof. In the summer I would get permission to go “topless”. This was an inside joke because often my boss was a female Sergeant about 20 years older than me and she would always laugh when I asked her if she wanted to go topless with me to London – “I’ll buy the Timmies.”

    It was hard to get in and out of the back seat and I never remember ever having 4 people in it except for on the highway. On exercise it was 2 guys and their gear. It was a very useful vehicle but we always called them “Jeeps”.

Leave a Reply to Bill McCoskey Cancel reply

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.