What Is This Thing? A Custom Type 3

Writing about oddball finds is really Scotty’s responsibility here on Barn Finds, but I am kind of partial to the strange and unusual myself. I do enjoy these great examples of homegrown American automotive ingenuity. This “thing” I found for sale on here on craigslist in Tucson, Arizona is one of the odder looking motorized vehicles I have seen recently. It’s VW based (of course) but looks as if it might a be homemade effort.

The seller labels it as a “One of a Kind Mini V.” I could not find any references online for a vehicle called a “Mini V.” Maybe one of our intrepid readers will know something about this reference and can let us know what it means. Was this body conversion a commercial endeavor, a professionally built one-off, or is this the product of an unknown backyard builder?

I have to admit this thing, whatever it is, looks pretty interesting. I am not sure it’s $4500 worth of interesting, but it would be fun to find out what it is and where it came from.  The ad offers very little detail, and the three photos provided are not very helpful either. The ad calls this a 1993, but that must be a typo as it is also called a Type 3, which was VW’s fastback and squareback model from 1961-1973, so I am guessing there is really a 1973 Type 3 underneath the body. Whatever it is does look to be influenced by the design of the “real” military VW Kubelwagen and the VW Thing from the 1970s.

Photo courtesy German Motor Works

Here is the complete text provided in this ad: “One of a kind all aluminum body mini v built on a type 3 VW. It runs and drives good still needs some small things done to bring it back up to great shape. I have been driving it on and off road. The doors can be removed also. It has aircraft material on the seats and aircraft seat belts. It is a must see.”

I am not so sure about that last claim, but what do you folks think of this VW based concoction?


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  1. Howard A Member

    No no, David, we’ll take oddballs from anybody. Maybe it was made off a Type 3 chassis but was built in ’93 with it’s own title. It almost looks like they were going for the “Hummer” look all squared off. I think this is going to be a tough sell.

  2. JW

    I was thinking the same thing VW running gear with a Hummer look for a laughable attitude. Still might be a fun toy but not $4500 worth.

  3. Zaphod

    An example of the “Folded sheet of paper” school of automotive design.
    Awful looking.

  4. Rob

    I agree with Howard and JW. It looks like they were building their own interpretation of an old M1025/M1026 HMMWV for some fun. I hate to say they have more invested in the build than they will ever get out of it.

  5. Francisco

    German phone booth.

  6. Dan

    Mini Humm-V.

  7. Woodie Man

    A mini Hummer for a man with small hands…….

    • Francisco

      Small hands eh? Pity that guy.

  8. Puhnto

    I’m sure the name was going for an association with a Hum-Vee. Since it’s a small version of one it’s a “Mini-Vee.”

  9. Adam Wright

    This reminds me of one of those cars you see come out of Cuba where they build it using a picture in a magazine

  10. Todd Zuercher

    Over the years we’ve seen a lot of VW-based oddball vehicles running around the deserts here in AZ and the desert southwest. Most of them hearken from a a time when resources and $ were a lot more limited and people made do with what they had. Most of have disappeared but occasionally you’ll still see something like this pop up. Nowadays you’re more apt to see something like this in San Felipe in Baja and similar environs.

    Here in the U.S. everyone and their brother has a side by side to cruise around in the backcountry.

  11. BradL

    That’s the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust, otherwise known as Geoff.

    • Adam T45 Staff

      That’s hilarious. I was thinking the same thing! It’s not often that you find a car that has been entirely designed with a ruler.

  12. Gerald

    If it had been built using a Beetle chassis it would’ve been a “Hum-Bug”,,,

  13. Skloon

    It’s the rare and elusive ur-hummer developed by the vw and audi skunk works, so named because their products stunk

  14. JamestownMike

    It’s a one off prototype from a failed joint venture between VW and Hummer….. lol, just kidding!

  15. Rich Nepon

    In 1970 the fellow who worked next to where I worked in Rockville, MD. built one like this. It was maybe a bit more aircraft inspired.

  16. tugdoc

    At one time there was at least two Kit builders making hummer bodies to fit VW pans. One the HumV the other HumBug. Gm sued and won for infringement. Neither of those had roofs this one looks awful homemade.

    • Gerald

      I remember there was a jeep style body called the Veep, don’t recall if it was steel or fiberglass though.

  17. gearjam1

    As retired Air Force, I would say that someone had access to an aircraft graveyard. Aircraft aluminum (most likely), aircraft seat material, and seatbelts. I have a few gizmos made out of such. Fun looking car that would be perfect in the desert.

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