Arizona

19-20 January 2017

Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection

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Lot 179

1973 Volkswagen Thing

  • Chassis no. 1833015183
  • Engine no. AM 009255

Sold for $24,200


Type 181. 46 hp (SAE), 96.7 cu. in. OHV horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, transverse torsion bars with upper/lower trailing arms, swing axle rear suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

  • Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection
  • A wonderful largely original Thing
  • Long-term ownership by Volkswagen enthusiasts
  • The most fun possible for the money!


The mass success of Beetle-based dune buggies in the United States during the late 1960s did not escape Volkswagen’s attention, nor did appeals from the company’s considerable Mexican customer base for a vehicle suitable for their rural roads. Volkswagen began with the basic lines of its World War II-era Kübelwagen military vehicle, modernized with redesigned bodywork on a Beetle-derived chassis and drivetrain, with Karmann-Ghia floorpans. Not only were the top and windows removable, but so were the doors, creating an airy ride not unlike a modern Fiat Jolly.

Over 90,000 of the Type 181, as it was called, were produced between 1968 and 1983, in two West German factories; in Puebla, Mexico; and in Jakarta, Indonesia. The model was sold under a variety of names; in the United States, it was dubbed, simply, “The Thing,” and was identified as such on its door sills. Advertised as, “The car that can be anything,” it became iconoclastic as an affordable off-roader for the same quirky learned types who enjoyed Beetles, and was a frequent sight at resorts, estates, and on country roads.

Given Henry Mohrschladt’s wide-ranging appreciation for Volkswagens, it was no surprise that he sought out an excellent Thing for his collection, to reside alongside one of the world’s best original Beetles and best-restored Microbuses. The Thing that he found was this Puebla-built example, which had been in the ownership of a Southern California collector for many years. Inspection indicated that much of its Pumpkin Orange finish is original, as is the top, windows, and interior, all of which shows only a gentle patina and remains in remarkable condition for being 43 years old. Because of its originality, it has not lost such charming touches as the original decal inside the doors, warning “Do Not Drive on Public Roads With Doors Off And/Or Windshield Down.”

For the Volkswagen enthusiast seeking the best original Type 181 to be found; for someone pursuing the best runabout for the summer house; or simply for the enthusiast looking for a conversation piece that everyone from the kids to the family dog will love, there is simply no better thing than this Thing.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more