1973 VW Thing Convertible - fully restored

Price: - Item location: Houston, Texas, United States
  • Make: Volkswagen
  • Model: Thing
  • Type: Convertible
  • Year: 1973
  • Mileage: 143,000
  • Color: Cream (light gray)
  • Engine size: 1600 cc
  • Number of cylinders: 4
  • Transmission: Manual, 4 spd
  • Drive type: standard 4 speed
  • Interior color: Cream (off white)
  • Vehicle Title: Clear
  • Want to buy? Contact seller!

1973 Volkswagen Thing

This auction is for a 2012 private restoration of a 1973 VW Thing.I am the restorer, an engineer by education but also a welder, auto mechanic and car painter, and have been doing this kind of work in my spare time for my own and my family's cars since childhood, so for over 40 years now.I do really nice work, but I do not do ‘show quality', and you shouldn't be expecting that at this price level.The 73 Thing's prior owner was a young lady who had driven her through college, and upon graduating and getting a job finally had money to buy a new car.She retired the Thing to sit in her mom's carport for some unknown period of years.I purchased her in 2010 and began restoring the Thing, intending to keep it, but sadly after retirement I find that 8 antique vehicles are just too many, as modern alcohol containing gas goes bad so fast.I am forced to reduce the collection to a manageable number of vehicles.

The Thing was completely stripped, and I welded in a new belly pan section to replace the battery-acid damaged area under the passenger side back seat. I have hundreds of pictures of the restoration. In addition, I welded a battery holder and the battery has now been relocated to the engine compartment so one can use a Ford truck sized battery in her.I repaired some minor body damage to the front right where the owner had hit a post of some sort.I primed her with epoxy and then painted her top and bottom, inside and out, with PPG/Ditzler Delthane hardened Delstar acrylic urethane enamel, some of the best and longest lasting paint you can buy.I replaced all the upholstery myself.I welded and installed a tubular steel roll bar, mostly to act as a mount for a modern pair of gravity harness seat belts for the front seats.I also added an aftermarket glove box door and lock so that the hood is now secure when the car is parked in an unsecure location, i.e. grocery store parking lot.

The motor is a factory stock 1600 cc complete rebuild with 1200 miles on all new parts.She got a remachined crank shaft and a well balanced remachined set of connecting rods, all new bearings, a new oil pump and new oil cooler.She has the late model twin port manifold and new (not rebuilt) twin port heads with the high longevity stainless steel exhaust valves.She got a new alternator, a new fuel pump, a rebuilt carb and a rebuilt centrifugal distributor.She went back into service in July of 2012 with 41,818 miles on her odometer.Now in 2017 she has 43,000 miles showing, so has been driven only about 1,200 miles in the past 5 years.You can understand why I need to reduce the number of cars here.

She has all her normal body parts including factory original front and rear bumpers, with the caveat that I welded in a wrap-around brush guard on the front bumper to protect the paint on the body if she were ever to be used off-road.She is missing the original German direct gasoline fired heater, normally located above the drivers legs in the front hood.The car right now has no heater, though a handy person could add outlets under the rear seat and with some flexible ducting could route hot air from the engine heat exchangers to these new outlets, similar to what a normal Beetle or Ghia has.In 1974 Things scavenged exhaust heat was the source of heat, but in 1973 Things they used a direct gasoline fired heater instead. With no windows and living in Texas, she really has no need of a heater.

A prior owner, for reasons unknown, has made additional modifications to her that I have not seen fit to undo.For one, the front suspension has been changed and uses Beetle trailing arms on the front torsion bars. This has the effect of lowering the front end slightly, which should give better street handling at the expense of a small loss of off-road ground clearance.Again, for reasons unknown to me, the CV joints and drive shafts were also changed to Bug/Ghia components, when original stock on a Thing should have been the slightly larger Van components.I do not know if the special Thing transmission was replaced with a bug/ghia transmission at that time.She seems to have a limited top highway speed so I am guessing she does have the Thing tranny with the built-in lower gear ratio for better off-road performance, but I can NOT confirm that.The front seats in her are Super Beetle seats with the integral head rest, instead of the low back ‘60's style' seats that were factory stock.I bought it like this, no idea why the seats were changed, but it is safer for the occupants to have whiplash protection from a head rest if the car is ever involved in a collision.Aside from those items I have not personally discovered any other major modifications.

I removed the convertible top and replaced it with a ‘surrey top', which is basically nothing more than a sun shield.It is completely open on the sides and most of the back, which gives way better visibility and lets a lot more breeze into and through the car when driving.The original convertible top is included in the sale if the buyer wants it, but the removable plastic sliding side curtains (side windows) have been lost, though new ones are still available.

She has a maintenance and gasoline log book in her glove box that documents all the work done to her, as well as what I know about her heritage.That log book includes the dozen or so times I have added gas to her tank since being returned to service.I have NOT registered her with the ‘VW Thing Registry', and depending on whether any of the prior owners have, getting in touch with them might yield some info on who her prior owners were.

After 5 years since hitting the road again, she now has a brand new battery. as well as barely broken in tires with 1200 miles on them.She comes with a new spare tire, standard VW jack and the normal VW tools, as well as a low profile military ‘rocket box' with a nearly complete set of maintenance tools, including sockets and wrenches, etc.She has a nice set of jumper cables and an assortment of spare parts, including items like a gapped and timed (ready-to-go) spare distributor, a spare fuel pump, fuel line and fuel filters, etc.

Like ALL VW Things, her front windshield folds down forward so you can get a motorcyclists view of the world and bugs in your mouth if you like that sort of ride.Like all VW Things, all four of the doors are removable, simply open them wide and lift them up and off the hinges, and you have a doorless vehicle with easy access.Like all VW Things, the back seats fold forward and clip in the down position, so instead of a 4-door 4-seater she is suddenly a 2-seater with a huge package/cargo area behind the front seats.This has seen the most use and the paint there shows marring from cargo sliding around on the deck, mostly crates of beer in fact.

The Thing is completely roadworthy, no need to tow it to her new home, simply show up and drive it home.She does have an interesting anti-theft safety interlock that I will have to show the next owner, it too was already installed when I purchased her, and I have not seen fit to disable it.She runs well and really is a lot of fun to drive, but I have too many cars and just don't drive enough these days.