eBay Find of the Week: 1974 Volkswagen Thing
“Patina” is an interesting term in the collector car world. When does a bit of wear and tear on a car simply portray its originality, and when do we simply call it neglected? And at what point does surface rust and faded paint become “patina”—and something to be savored, as opposed to something that must be stripped and restored? Good questions, indeed.
Old signage on working vehicles adds another interesting touch (and, for some, further muddies the waters), as we see on this week’s eBay find: a 1974 VW Type 181 (Thing) that looks to have been used to advertise a Southern California flower shop. We could find no evidence of this shop’s existence, but perhaps some Los Angeles-area readers are familiar with it?
This Thing’s faded paint, torn interior, and minor rust spots are, according the seller’s description, paired with a rebuilt engine, transmission, new brakes, new convertible top, and other important reliability-related repairs. Think of this as a rat rod—a slower version of others you may have seen. And like on an old truck or Jeep, the patina gives it a fun, happy vibe.
Volkswagen Things aren’t hugely expensive cars, but they are more valuable and rarer than equivalent Beetles of the same era. They were only imported to the U.S. for two years, 1973–74, and somehow managed to avoid safety regulations of the period. Those headrest-free seats appear original and correct, for example.
Things are far from quiet and certainly not luxurious, but can you think of another four-door four-seat convertible you can keep driving inexpensively? Plenty of mechanicals are available too, and most are shared with the ubiquitous VW bus and Beetle.
Volkswagen even purported that these Things were capable of some off-road travel. Not that we’re encouraging that. Except, maybe, to pick flowers.