1970 Volkswagen Thing "NATO" Version for sale in Pleasanton, California, United States

Item location: Pleasanton, California, United States
Make: Volkswagen
Model: Thing
Type: Convertible
Trim: "NATO" Version
Year: 1970
Mileage: 42042
VIN: 1802477329
Color: Beige
Engine size: 4 Cylinder VW
Number of cylinders: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Transmission: 4-Speed
Drive type: RWD
Interior color: Black
Drive side: Left-hand drive
Vehicle Title: Clean
Want to buy? Contact seller!

Description for Volkswagen Thing 1970

1970 VW Type 181 "NATO"

1970 VW NATO TYPE 181

Professional Quality, Photo Documented, Comprehensive Body-Off Restoration

Very Rare in the USA & Highly Unique

Restored in Belgium & Recently Imported from Belgium -Licensed, Titled & Registered in California


NOTE: Our listings are rather lengthy. They not only describe this particular car but also some history of the make/model, considerations in buying a classic car and facts about our firm. However, we continually hear from out-of-state / out-of- country buyers (many of our clients) that they prefer the level of detail that we provide. However, if you are not prepared to read the full listing, please scan the DETAILS below along with viewing the PHOTOGRAPHS at the bottom. If you'd prefer, please call us at 925-846-1451 and we'll gladly discuss the VW and answer any questions over the telephone, including our "Buy it Now" policy. Yes, the VW can be purchased prior to the end of the eBay auction.


This VW "NATO" is offered at a realistic price and, unlike bidding on cars in an auction environment, you will have the benefit of extensive information and history on the car prior to making a buying decision. Equally as important is the fact that Classic Cars Ltd. has been in business for 26+ years and enjoys an excellent national / international relationship with over 1,000 positive eBay feedback responses.

Please keep in mind that we will gladly...

  • Answer any questions over the telephone and take the time to guide prospective customers through the buying process (925-846-1451).
  • Assist with locating a quality, suitable transporter at very competitive prices.
  • Provide proof that we are licensed, bonded (for the financial transaction), fully insured, and operate from an established showroom environment.
  • Provide feedback from previous buyers, and specific references for vehicle purchases in your area (we also ask that you view our detailed eBay feedback by clicking on the number to the right of the eBay user name)
  • Offer additional information including specific photographs or clarification of any part of our description of the vehicle

Thank you again, please let me know if I can be of assistance.

Paul R. Wankle, Pres.

Classic Cars Ltd.



1970 VW TYPE 181 "NATO”

Over the course of our 26+ years in business we have been fortunate to have handled a wide range of interesting vehicles, and continue to have a healthy appetite for unique & unusual cars & truck. Undoubtedly, this VW certainly qualifies as unique and, while we have had "VW" Things over the years, this is our first version of the VW Type 181 "NATO.”

At first glance, the "NATO" appears to be a U.S. distributed VW Thing. However, while there are similarities, a number of unusual changes exist on this 1970 European Type 181 NATO. The NATO was used in a variety of countries as a light military vehicle. Originally painted just one color, "Army green," they were designed to be reliable, inexpensive to operate and maintain, and also be somewhat stealth for use in military operations. The black-out lights allow for caravanning while not being noticed and also allow for not be noticed by aircraft flying overhead.

Some of the features that distinguish them for a Thing include the following factory produced equipment:

  • Front over-rider bumpers (stock on the Type 181 NATO
  • Black out lighting (front & rear) - For use with traveling in caravans or being undetectable from aircraft - all wiring and lights in place but not connected at this time
  • Flush mounted and different rear tail lights
  • "Bullet-shaped" blackout lights - rear
  • Rifle mount left in place on the driver's side (left front side of seat
  • A large number of threaded holes in the rear fold down seats to allow for mounting various equipment and/or armaments


Frankly, describing the condition of this NATO is an easy task. The old adage, 'A photo is worth a thousand words" certainly applies. As the ~150 detailed photos show, the NATO has undergone a comprehensive body off, complete high quality restoration. In keeping with the military history of the car, a subtle color was chosen and is a great look compared with the drab, original green color. The restoration was so comprehensive including removal of every panel that no signs of green remain.

The owner and restorer is experienced with complete comprehensive mechanical and cosmetic restorations on a wide range of German cars, with a particular interest and knowledge of Porsche 356 cars. He was fascinated with this NATO and decided to complete the restoration for his personal use in Brussels. It was completed to a high standardand, as the photographs support, virtually the entire car was disassembled and parts were replaced with either NOS items, replated, or properly refurbished. The chassis, suspension components, parts of the exterior trim were all powder coated for durability and upgrades were made to the brakes, suspension, and other major components.

The documentation includes the European certification(s) of the VW, all of the export papers, and most important, the USA certification of the VW. While the process of importing the "NATO" was complicated, the persistent owner was successful in finalizing the licensing and certification with the state of California and the VW is smog exempt. Copies of the paperwork will be included as part of the cars history.


1970 VW TYPE 181 "NATO”

  • Immaculate front & rear compartments
  • Converted to IRS (Independent Rear Suspension)
  • Adjustable front end
  • All new wiring front to back
  • Porsche "Cookie Cutter" wheels
  • Front disc brake conversion / vented
  • Complete canvas, high quality convertible top and side curtains with excellent fit
  • Includes original rims, brake drums, and miscellaneous spares
  • Includes antenna and base - not mounted and no antenna to body mount (but readily available)
  • Matching Fuchs wheel and tire (inflated)


  • Complete body off prime & paint with all needed body work - Painted an original Thing color, Steppe Beige
  • Excellent German fit of body panels
  • Both doors and both front and rear compartments open & close well
  • Doors lock and are removable
  • 100% free from rust, extremely straight body and undercarriage
  • High quality canvas top
  • Excellent front and rear bumpers
  • Excellent front glass
  • All new weatherstrip and rubber trim when restored
  • Twin outside rear view mirrors
  • Difficult to locate antenna and mounting bracket included (not fitted to the vehicle at this time)
  • Virtually all exterior trim powder coated black including mirrors, headlight trim, door handles,
  • Porsche "Cookie Cutter" wheels
  • High quality Yokohama All Terrain tires in size 205/70 15”


  • Upgraded, adjustable front seats - Very comfortable
  • Front 3-point belts
  • Stock rear seats that fold completely down (refer to photos)
  • Entire interior re-painted during body off restoration
  • One point rear receiving belt in rear (for fastening objects)
  • Black sun-visors
  • Original but quite serviceable weatherstrip on doors
  • Front & rear color coordinated cocoa mats
  • Added oil pressure gauge & temperature gauge
  • Clear speedometer in kilometers - fully functional
  • Nice original black steering wheel
  • Fitted with gas heater - appears complete but not connected


The VW runs extremely well, starts immediately whether hot or cold and exhibits no drivability issues. The completely rebuilt and upgraded braking system stops the car straight and sure with the addition of front disc brakes. The hand brake is fully functional and holds the car, even on inclines.

Driving the VW is truly a pleasure and it runs smoothly with no hesitations, shifts well up through the gears and has no syncromesh issues. The steering is precise and light. The Empi shifter has a reverse lock-out. The gauges are functional and the oil pressure reads well within acceptable limits. Unlike so many of the air cooled cars we have had, the VW does not have excessive leaking.

When it comes to versatility, the "NATO" offers something for everyone. The VW can be driven top on, top off, side curtains on/off, windshield down, doors on or removed, and any combination of the above! The VW would make a wonderful and highly unique beach, mountain or occasional car. Plus, you would certainly be the first (and only) one on your block with a "NATO" VW!


  • Passed the California required safety inspection for working wipers, turn signals, lights, brakes, etc.
  • Full size spare tire w/ jack in front compartment


Body and chassis
Class Military vehicle
Bodystyle 4-doorCabriolet
Layout Rear engined
Engine Various
Transmission 4-speedmanual
Wheelbase 2,400mm (94.5in)
Length 3,780mm (148.8in)
Width 1,640mm (64.6in)
Height 1,620mm (63.8in)
Curbweight 910kg (2,006lb)


TheVolkswagen Type 181is a two-wheel drive, four-door, convertible, manufactured and marketed byVolkswagenfrom 1968 to 1983. Originally developed for the WestGermanArmy, theType 181"NATO" was produced from 1968 until 1979 with over 50,000 distributed worldwide. The TYPE 181 provided a high degree of reliability and low maintenance as light military vehicles.

The civilian Thing came onto the market in 1971 in Europe, and was released in the USA in 1972 as a 1973 model. Despite its popularity and almost instant cult status, the Thing had to be dropped in 1975 as it failed strict new safety standards, which is a little ironic given it was designed to protect troops in war.

The plan was simple: keep costs low and sell for a high price with a novelty tag. Without coming over all philosophical, the slogan came down to this: "The Thing is”. Like its predecessor, the mechanics were lifted from the Beetle, giving it a flat four, rear-mounted engine, and the floor plan was borrowed from the marque's stylish coupe, the Karmann Ghia.

Thank you,

Classic Cars Ltd.


VIN: 1802477329
Exterior Color: Tan
Interior Color: Black
Engine: 4 Cylinder VW
Transmission: 4-Speed
Status: Available
Stock: 09-10520
Mileage: 42,042
Features: High quality, body off restoration with powder coated components, front disc brakes, and Porsche wheels. Restoration completed in Europe by a professional level restorer. Highly unique Type 181 NATO not brought into the USA until 1973 as a VW Thing.


As always, we recommend that you carefully review the seller's background for any collector car being sold over the Internet. It is important to ask yourself a number of questions including, but not limited to:

·How long have they been in business?

·How much experience do they have with collector cars?

·How many positive collector car vehicle sales have they completed (positive eBay feedback)?

·How detailed/complete is the description of the vehicle?

·Do the photos show details of the interior, exterior, top, chrome, etc. or are they simply "glamour shots" taken from a distance?

·Does the seller have a Surety Bond to protect the financial transaction?

·What about insurance, licensing by the state, and a local business license?

·Does the seller (if a business) have any DMV (Motor Vehicle) complaints and/or other history of legal action, grievances?

·Does the seller enjoy a favorable local and national/international reputation?

·Can the seller assist with funding sources, transport and out of state/country sales?


·We have been the same, small, California town for over 25 years. We operate a small "brick & mortar", indoor showroom, and specialize in the sale, consignment, and purchase of sports, high performance and specialty vehicles of all types. We have a particular interest in sports cars and unique vehicles.

·The majority of our vehicles come from local, private owners and collectors, and many were sold new in California. We appreciate that rust free cars, with excellent documentation and history are especially attractive to our buyers both locally, and around the country. As a result, we do not purchase our collectible cars from "distressed" sales, such as wholesale auctions, salvage sales, or lien sales. We do not sell vehicles with salvage titles, or those that have a history of significant accident damage or repair.

·We have sold hundreds of unique, classic and collectible vehicles and regularly deal with buyers that have not had the experience of purchasing a large (both physically and monetarily) item on eBay, or through an Internet source.We strive to achieve 100% positive feedback on all vehicle sales from customers around the globe and is a reflection of our commitment to accurate, complete, and thorough vehicle descriptions.

·We have been shipping vehicles for years and have established excellent contacts that are not only high quality but very price competitive.We do not use brokers, terminal shipping or other discount methods.Call us or email for a quote directly to your home or office. We are often able to obtain quality enclosed transportation (the kind of travel this car deserves) for the cost of open shipping.

·Please review our feedback on eBay (user name Never22Many) representing over 975+ positive transactions to buyers all over the United States / World.

·We are fully insured, bonded, and licensed for collector car sales all over the United States/World.

·Classic Cars Ltd. carries a $50,000 Surety bond to cover financial transactions

·We frequently sell vehicles to out of State / out of country buyers, and will be glad to provide references for buyers in your area.


·As with virtually all collector/specialty vehicles, we find that parts and resources are readily available for this (and most every vehicle), thanks in large part to the Internet.

·In addition to the purchase price of the vehicle, California buyers are subject to sales tax, documentation fee, DMV transfer fees, and license and registration.Out of state buyers are responsible for the purchase price of the vehicle with any local fees, taxers, etc. being paid in their respective state.IMPORTANT NOTE: If the vehicle is delivered or driven in California, applicable California sales tax, license, registration and transfer fees will be assessed per California law.

·While we encourage telephone calls to discuss this vehicle in greater detail and ask that you call us at 925-846-1451 if we can answer any questions about the vehicle, Classic Car Ltd, or shipping costs to your location.

·We encourage inspections by interested buyers or professional inspectors. Please call at 925-846-1451 to arrange a convenient time.

·As with any collectible vehicle of this vintage we are unable to provide a warranty or guarantee of condition. However, we make every effort to accurately represent our vehicles, and highlight both positive items as well as areas that require attention. We ask that prospective buyers consider our eBay history/feedback, standing in the community, length of time in business, and other factors when purchasing a collectible vehicle from Classic Cars Ltd.

·Minor cosmetic issues/flaws may be present on every vehicle (regardless of cost) including small chips, nicks, scratches, etc. that can be seen on even the best restoration, or even a relatively new, used "pre-owned" vehicle.Also, ownership of a collectible / specialty vehicle is more enjoyable if the owner is familiar with the "realities" of these unique cars.Unlike more modern day vehicles, these cars require regular, ongoing care/maintenance and some mechanical knowledge, patience, and understanding can make the experience considerably more pleasant.That said, collector / "specialty" car owners will tell you (emphatically) that they love their cars and wouldn't trade them for anything!!

The information contained in this description is believed to be accurate but, in some instances, has been provided by the car's owner / owners or outside sources.As a result, we are unable to guarantee the accuracy of the information.We encourage verification of "numbers" and significant data prior to the purchase of any collector vehicle that you are considering.


·Buyers outside of California will be responsible for a $195.00 fee for processing / administration. The charge will apply if the vehicle is purchased through eBay or before or after the auction directly through Classic Cars Ltd.

·We reserve the right to end the auction prior to the scheduled auction close date. We will be glad to discuss details of a "pre-auction" purchase (925) 846-1451.

·Inspections of vehicles are encouraged but (by appointment) must be completed within 24 hours of the end of the auction.

·Out of state buyers are responsible for the high bid and shipping costs. California buyers are subject to the appropriate sales tax, DMV transfer, and fees associated with the purchase of any used vehicle sale in the state of California.

·To avoid shipping the title with the car to our out of state buyers, we mail the title and other transfer documents via Priority Mail.Larger items and parts will be shipped with the vehicle.

·While shipping and transportation costs (if appropriate) are the responsibility of the winning bidder, we can assist with locating a suitable transporter. We regularly ship cars all over the USA/World, and can often times locate very competitive rates for transporting vehicles door to door, to a local terminal, enclosed, open, etc. Please call us for specific information/rates to your location.

·We meet some great people and fellow enthusiasts, and only rarely do we have problems with non-paying bidders. Please be certain that you are prepared to buy the car if you bid, or call us at 925-846-1451 before the end of the auction if we can answer any questions. If you have a "sunglass" rating or fewer than 10 feedback ratings

Classic Cars Ltd.

925-846-1451n eBay, please call us before you bid so that we can discuss the bidding process, etc. If we do not hear from you, we reserve the right to delete your bid.

Thank You & Happy Bidding
Classic Cars Ltd.

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