This FAQ is designed for reference only. The Thing Shop assumes no liability and ensures no accuracy of any information provided on this page. The information provided is compiled from various sources. No liability or responsibility in any regard can be assumed. It is your own responsibility to always check information which might endanger the safety of your vehicle, your vehicle's occupants, and other drivers.
HOW TO INSTALL A VW THING CONVERTIBLE TOP TO FRAME: Click on video to watch a demonstration on how you can install your top to the frame, open and close frame, roll up top and more. WARM UP YOUR NEW TOP PRIOR TO CLOSING IT THE FIRST TIME! THIS WILL HELP IT STRETCH FOR A GREAT FIT.
HOW TO REMOVE AND REBUILD FRONT SEATS: Click on video to watch a demonstration on how you can properly remove, rebuild and reupholster your front seats with our kit..
NEW FRONT SHOCKS NOT FITTING CORRECTLY: Many times the metal sleeve in the shock bushing mount is rusted to the lower control arm stud. This sleeve need to be removed before the new shock can be installed.
Things were made from 1968 thru 1979. The last official year model was 1980. They were imported into the United States from 1973-1974.
Things have Thing-only ball joints.
The passenger-side tie rod is Thing specific.
The Thing front beam is different from the Beetle because it has a reinforced shock tower and plates welded on the rear for supports that attach to the chassis.
Rear brake drums are Thing specific
Master cylinder and wheel cylinders are not Thing specific. Front brake backing plate is Thing specific.
Thing torsion arms (a.k.a. front trailing arms) are Thing specific.
1973 and 1974 Mexican-built for the U.S Things came stock with 14" Thing-specific wheels, but 15" were available as an option. 14" Bus wheels will NOT work. The original stock tire size is 185SR14. Both Continental and Goodyear were OEM suppliers. 1968-1972 German models had 165/15 tires on 4.5 x 15" rims; later models had 185/14 tires on 5 x 14" rims as original equipment. As early models were never mass imported to the U.S., the 15" rims are very rare.
The largest tire that will work with stock metal fenders is a 205/75 R15.
Thing IRS transaxles are basically the same as the Beetle. The main difference is side flanges, or "cups" being different. The ring and pinion are specific to the Thing. The gearing ratio is close to that of a 1966 VW Bus (Type II).
In a pinch, Type II C/V joints will work but we DO NOT recommend it. They do not have the same travel as the proper C/V joints. We DO NOT consider them safe.
The main difference between 1973 and 1974 models is the heating system. 1973 and earlier models utilized the BN4 gas heater manufactured by Eberspacher. 1974 models used heat from the engine/exhaust similar to the Beetle.
1974 models also utilized air intakes on the rear of the car while 1973 and earlier models just had louvers.
1973 and 1974 steering wheel shaft sizes are different. To see which shaft size you have, you will need to check your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Windshield wiper switches and ignition starter switches are also different by year.
Exhaust systems also differ. The 1973 utilized a divided exhaust system and the 1974 used a single muffler that was closer to a Beetle muffler.
The 1973 fan shroud did not have fresh air ducts as the 1974 did.
The right hand mirror on the 1974 is a "long arm" mirror. In 1973, the mirrors were mounted on the doors. In 1974, the mirrors were moved off the doors and relocated to the body. When the mirrors were moved, VW redesigned the right-hand mirror by making the arm longer. A 1973 mirror will work on a 1974 but the visibility is reduced.
The Acapulco Thing came stock with running boards, special upholstery, special paint scheme, and a choice of three different tops. The choices for Acapulco tops were a surrey top, hard top, or a VW "tan" convertible top. Acapulco side curtains came in VW "tan". The upholstery in an Acapulco’s was striped as well was the material for the surrey top. Hard tops were generally white although a few blue ones were made. The Acapulco model Thing was originally designed for the Las Brisas Hotel in Acapulco, Mexico. It became so popular that the original blue and white paint scheme was exported to the United States. VW also made an orange and white combo, yellow and white combo, and green and white combo.
The VIN can be found stamped on the chassis "tunnel" underneath the rear seat or on a plate riveted to the body underneath the front hood.
All Things made for the U.S. market came with the IRS rear suspension.
Military Things (a.k.a. Kubelwagens or Mehrweckwagens) had the swing axle suspension with reduction gears or the IRS suspension.
Things float, right before they sink. The myth that Things float probably comes from the Schwimmwagen. The Schwimmwagen was a vehicle used by German military (made by Volkswagen) in WWII that had amphibious capabilities.
The stock engine on Things manufactured after Serial #183 2436 525 in the year 1973 is a 1600cc dual port engine. In '71 and '72 Things were manufactured with 1500 cc engines.
Things originally came with an oil bath air cleaner that was Thing-specific. However, certain Type II air cleaners will work. A dual air cleaner system was available as an option and came stock on many military Things.
The Thing is also known as the Safari, Trekker, Kubelwagen, Mehrweckwagen, Type 181, and Type 182 (right-hand drive model).
A regular Beetle tow bar will work on a Thing. Super-Beetle or Bus tow bars will not work.
N.O.S. is an acronym for New Old Stock. New Old Stock means original equipment made for VW's that was purchased from VW but never installed on a car.
O.E.M. is an acronym for Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEM parts are made by the original company that made the parts for VW. However, these parts were never owned by VW. Many parts that The Thing Shop sells are OEM. We spent a lot of time tracking down the original vendors.
Paint codes for the 1973 and 1974 U.S. Things from PPG's sample sheet are as follows: