Volkswagen Built the Perfect Thing for Your Next Retro Expedition

So there I was, walking along a dusty street in Mexico, when I spotted an attractive blue chunk of automotive history: a Volkswagen Thing. Yup, you read that right, Volkswagen once built a chunky off-roader on the Beetle’s chassis named the Thing. But as rad as this retro rig is, the perfect “thing” for your next vintage vehicle expedition might be its successor, the Volkswagen Iltis.

The Volkswagen Thing was built out of spare parts

A bright blue Volkswagen Thing off-roader parked in front of a palm tree in Mexico.
Volkswagen “Safari” Type 181 in Mexico | Henry Cesari via MotorBiscuit

The year was 1968: The Beatles were on the radio, Bullitt was playing in every cinema, and the Volkswagen Bug had become a cult classic in the United States. The Beetle–officially called the “Type 1”–was also a hugely popular economy car in countries such as Mexico. So when NATO’s ill-conceived project to invent a light amphibious “Europa Jeep” patrol car stalled (spoiler: it would never get started again), it turned to VW to build a stop-gap military transport.


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