VW Thing - would this be crazydumb?

volkswagen
thing

#1

A friend alerted me that his neighbor is selling a VW Thing for $1200. I have wanted one of these for many years. I am in the process of getting further details on this specific car, but a little research reveals some troubling details. Namely, there are a lot of Thing-specific parts on it, and for a vehicle this old that could be dangerous when something breaks.



Assuming that this particular car is in good shape overall, how stupid would it be for me to take the plunge?


#2

Well, the “dangerous” part is kind of counteracted by the fact that most Things can’t go faster than about 30 mph. (Nahhhhhhh… :slight_smile:

Can you afford it? It doesn’t matter if it’s a VW or a Chevy, it’s now a 30+ year old car (if it’s a US version), and it is going to need maintenance.

Basically, look at the price of the car, and then do some soul-searching and be honest with yourself about if you can afford to have the car. Generally, if maintaining it comes down to money, you probably can’t afford it.

On the plus side, there just aren’t that many parts on the car, so at some point you will have replaced all of them and you won’t have to worry about maintenance anymore! :slight_smile:


#3

They’re cool buggys. But they have a few major weaknesses.

  • They have very extremely terribly inadequate handling and braking, even when brand new.
  • They have zero safety systems. Forget crash crumple zones that absorb impact. Forget side-impact door beams. Forget headrests. Forget airbags. I’m not even sure thay had seatbelts. You get hit, or you hit anything, and you die. Period.
  • It’ll be old. Very old. Brake lines and major components are probably corroded if they haven’t been replaced. Seals and sealing rings in things like brake cylinders, the master cylinder, etc. are probably beyond shot of they haven’t been replaced.
  • The power source is four chipmunks in a cage. Forget about merging on today’s freeways. Or even keeping up.

On the other hand, keeping the ol’ carburated engine running and keeping the oil inside the engine will be the equivalent of attending a graduate program in automotive technologies.

In summary, a VW thing would need to be completely restored and even system-upgraded to be considered safe on today’s roads.


#4

There is virtually no demand for these cars. The owner is probably hoping someone will take it off his hands so he won’t have to pay to have it towed to the scrap yard. Did you say he wants $1200?! Did you leave out the decimal point somewhere? Start the bidding at a generous $100.


#5

Agree. This thing is worth no more than scrap value, so if you get it for $100 or so you can teach yourself Patience, Motor Mechanics, and Improvisation. Most mechanics will show little interest in this machine, so yo will be on your own often.


#6

I disagree, to interested party’s it has value. There likely is a bunch of aficionado’s for them and they know pricing. I would suggest to the poster to go to a VW Thing board if not already and see what buy/sell values are.

To the person who likes reliable appliance like transportation and no more I agree little value. I like appliance transportation coupled to fun to drive so I own a Subaru WRX.

My cousin with a simple manual was able to keep a 69 VW Camper bus alive. We even took it on a journey from foothills of Colorado to Baja California(ferry part way) without a serious breakdown.


#7

So MB,

Are you saying that the mileage is X miles per bag of peanuts?


#8

It depends on what you want it for. For a daily commuting car you would have to be crazy and a part time mechanic. To collect and work on as a hobby, it would be a fun car to have, just don’t expect any comfort or safety when driving it. In order to pay $1,200 it would have to be in pretty good condition.


#9

Most mechanical parts are interchangeable with the Beetle and any other items can generally be found at a number of suppliers; either a brick and mortar store or on-line sites such as Mark’sBugBarn, JBug, etc.

In spite of the rap, these cars, just like the equivalent era Super Beetles will cruise at a good speed down the road and the handling is not that bad. I’ve driven them at 70 MPH, one hand on the wheel, and no worries.

If this car runs well and is fairly solid then 1200 dollars is a flat out steal. These cars are collectible since they were only made for 2 years and can bring serious bucks.
Several in my area have sold for around 5 grand each (average condition daily drivers) and look at the ones sold at Barrett-Jackson from this click and paste.

In early 2007 four 181 “Things” sold at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction for well over $20k each, with one 1973 example selling for $42,560 USD.[1].


#10

Yup. The good news is that it runs on regular peanuts. And on those old VW boxer style engines each chipmunk was individually replacable.


#11

I’m stunned. I never really did understand the prices collectors pay for those high-end auction autos. Or stuff on the “Antiques Roadshow” either. It just doesn’t compute.


#12

Value. A diamond would just be a worthless, glassy, pebble, if no one wanted it. In the eye of the beholder, and all that…


#13

If you check completed eBay auctions, they range from $1,800 for a running beater, up to $18,000 for a customized one. Not my choice of car but it’s a weirdo, hence the value.


#14

coming from a VW owner. . don’t do it! they’re always sucking in more money than they’re worth. My 2 cents. ( I still own mine b/c it’s teasing me along- every time I fix something I think "nothing else could go wrong I’ve replaced everything). … . Save yourself the heartbreak, by japanese


#15

No way would I give 20 grand for one of them either, much less 40k+. The VW air-cools have remained popular and any decent VW whether it’s a Beetle, Thing, Ghia, Kombi, etc. is bringing more than they sold for new.
The Thing is basically a Beetle body on a Ghia floorpan so parts procurement should not be difficult on this vehicle though.

If this particular Thing is in good condition I would give 1200 for it even without a motor.


#16

Don’t know about Thing parts but as a previous owner of Vanagons and a EuroVan don’t do it. Keeping up VW’s require deep pockets as far as parts are concerned. The more you need it, most likely the more you will have to pay for it.


#17

For $1200, why not? It would be an interesting toy. Personally, I would probably prefer a bug convertible, but I doubt I would ever find decent one for $1200.


#18

Why not ?

It’s very cheap, you can’t really lose money unless the floorpan is shot through with rust, parts ARE available and it’s easy to fix. If you can swing a wrench, you can fix just about anything on that car.

But having said all that, it’s not the most practical car, the gas heaters are always pants even when they work, but if you are using this for a jolly and don’t live in Alaska, go for it.

Give it a rub over when you get bored and post it on EBay, you can’t really lose can you ?


#19

Ahh, you and Willieboy just don’t get it! Owning an air-cooled VW, even when they were new, has to be to a certain extent a hobby. In order for them to be reasonably reliable, they require pretty frequent maintience that will get very expensive if you have to pay someone to do it at today’s labor rates. But, the trade off is that the regular maintinence is extremely simple to do and even someone who isn’t actually all that mechanically-inclined (or didn’t know they were…) can do most of it.

What makes VW’s unique among hobby cars, though, is that unlike most classic cars, they’re still fairly practical to use as a daily driver. Of course the obvious is that they get gas mileage that’s reasonable these days-- can’t be said of most classic cars-- and you don’t have to worry about an irreplacable part breaking. Take the Thing in question, which is probably one of the rarest of the aircooled VW-models, and yet probably 90% of the parts on it are avaliable new and at reasonable prices. You can’t say that about most 15-year old cars, let alone the almost 30 that even the newest air-cooled VW’s are.

So, yeah, if you’re expecting a 30-year old VW to be something you can just drive around and forget about like a Japanese econo-box, then you are definintely going to be disapointed, but if you have the right mindset an air-cooled VW is a blast to own.


#20

If you wanted one for many years, you won’t break a budget to get it now. It won’t hurt you to get it. The Thing-specific parts aren’t that specific anyway. Any car that old can be patched poorly and still have a kind of crate beauty about it. We all pay our dues for wanting something.