VW Trekker

VW Type 181

During WW11 the German Army used an all-purpose vehicle called the VW Kübelwagen Type 82. With its high ground clearance, low weight (only 720kg), smooth floor pan and rear air-cooled engine The Kübelwagen was an instant success and the German Commanders loved them.

In 1968 the Type 181 was launched to the general public which was very much based around the original Type 82.

The Type 181 was known by many names depending on which country it was located in.  In Germany the Type 181 was known as the Kurierwagen (“Courier Car”), In the UK it was known as the Trekker, in the USA it was known as the Thing and in Mexico it was called the Safari.  The Type 181 actually refers to the Left hand Drive model.  The Right hand Drive model was called the Type 182.

The Type 181 was based around the VW Beetle chassis with a few modifications made to it.  The Floor Pan however was based around the Karmann Ghia which was slightly wider than the Beetle.  All models utilised the front Ball Joint Beam from a VW Beetle although there were some small modifications made to the steering knuckle and front supports.

The Rear suspension was initially based around the VW Splitscreen Bus manufactured before 1963 including its gearbox and reduction boxes on each rear wheel.  This gearbox and rear suspension set up was used up until chassis number 183 2346 524.  From chassis number 183 2346 525 the gearbox and rear suspension set up was changed which utilised the setup from the VW 1302 beetle.  This was a much improved Independent Rear Suspension (IRS).

The engine installed originally in the Type 181 was the same 1500cc flat-four engine from the VW Splitscreen Bus.  In 1971 however the engine was upgraded to the all-new 1600cc Twin Port engine fitted to the latest VW 1302 Beetle.

The body of the Type 181 was bolted onto the chassis just like the VW Beetle.  It was very basic in design with the only piece of glass on the whole vehicle being the Windscreen.  The side windows were made of plastic and could be removed entirely and stored in the boot.  The Doors themselves could also be removed with ease which allowed easier access to the very basic interior.

The Type 181 was not fitted with any sound deadening, door panels or carpet.  In fact the side panels of the Type 181 were manufactured quite high which allowed the car to wade through water.  So the interior could often get a little wet.

The instrument panel was the same speedometer from a VW Beetle which included the fuel gauge, indicator, oil warning and generator lights.  A petrol heater was located under the front bonnet and it was activated by a knob on the dashboard.

Instead of a roof the Type 181 had a simple PVC cover which again could be easily removed and stored.

Went in with an idea of what I needed but CoolAir made sure I left with the right parts. Money well spent.

Stuart - March 2014
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