The VW Type 181 Kurierwagen is a military off-road vehicle, which was first produced in 1968 exclusively for the Bundeswehr. The vehicle was manufactured until 1980 and sold alongside the Bundeswehr to other authorities as well as to private individuals. In Mexico, the type was 181 from 1970 to 1980 VW Type 182 built as Safari. In the U.S., the model is by his nickname The Thing but became known as under his real name, so Volkswagen of America this then used, over time and in its promotional materials such as television advertising, posters and even the print catalogs as alias without deleting the actual model from Mexico from its program. In Indonesia, it is mounted as VW Camat 1973-1980. In the export version for other RHD countries he rolled there, however, as VW Trekker from the tape.
The career of the courier carriage began as Stopgap. The German army had the problem that the production of the DKW Munga expired at the end of 1968. As a replacement was developed jointly by France, Italy and Germany, the Europa Jeep, Planned, but this international project was not about the planning phase.
When searching for an alternative, the choice fell on Volkswagen. The Wolfsburg-based group should construct based on the VW Beetle the necessary, limited off-road utility cart. In the design could be developed on the VW in Australia, in 1967 presented Country Buggy support, which had been developed by Volkswagen technicians in the Australian assembly plant in Clayton Victoria. Also, the engineers based on a VW Kubelwagen, which during the Second World War II was used.
In September 1969 with the presentation at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main, the VW 181 was found as a military vehicle in the style of the jeep, only slightly more modern, but larger and heavier. The box-shaped body with four half doors was adapted to the use and the style of the time. With the sales name Courier car should a roll-call connection to the jeep of the Wehrmacht be avoided. Nevertheless, he received under the soldiers quickly nicknamed bucket.
The body was bolted to a central tube-frame platform (this was the change in different points of the platform Karmann Ghia Type 14 for use). Side rails (sills) ensured the required torsional stiffness. Also with regard to many other components are made to existing and robust to handle technology. VW Beetle 1500 of the air-cooled 1.5-liter 44-hp boxer engine, clutch, instruments, steering was and the 40-liter tank taken. The gearbox and the rear axle with Radvorgelegegetriebe traditional, slightly modified from the first set 1967 VW transporter.
By the use of the countershaft gear on the rear wheels, the ground clearance is increased. Four drum brakes provided for a sufficient delay. Before the weather, the occupants were protected by an unlined all-weather canopy with a water-repellent PVC cover and so-called Einsteckscheiben made of poly. The front could be folded forward and locked with two snaps.
The interior was only heated by a heater, which had its place with the spare wheel under the front hood. The two-stage adjustable front seats were covered in durable leatherette. The rear seat could be folded down completely divided or that extra loading area managed. Just one year after the performance of the vehicle came 1970, a 1.6-liter engine used. Going back on the compression ratio of 1:7.5 to 1:6,6 remained the Output of 44hp, although unchanged, but in use worldwide, enabled the use of lower-grade fuels also. The gearbox received to the Pre-Insert a longer ratio, the maximum speed thereby increased to 115km/h (before 110km/h).
Major changes were made in 1973: The engine was highly compacted and made now at the same gebliebenem Displacement 48hp. The swing axle was replaced by a trailing arm axle with double cardan shafts as with the VW 1302/1303. A structural connection of the Beetle with one of his time-current bus transmissions replaced the outdated countershaft design. The tire size was changed from 165 to 185 R 15 R 14. A fresh-air heater replaced the obligate heater in conjunction with large air intake slots above the rear fender, so that no exhaust gases are sucked in by the engine and could reach into the interior (on the same principle as the Beetle). Bundeswehr vehicles remained of it except, firstly because of the additional costs, partly because of the retained heater and the military exhaust system. The civilian version had a cross pot similar to the type 1
In terms of price the next VW Beetle and Karmann Ghia Volkswagen was third open at a high level. Private customers had to pay for a spartan vehicle equipped 8500 DM. A locking differential cost 435 DM separately.
The German Bundeswehr has ordered 15,275 vehicles Cars 0.4 t tmil 4 Ã— 2 (Passenger cars, 0.4 ton payload, teilmilitarisiert, four wheels, two of them driven). These vehicles were delivered in the period from 1969 to the end of 1979. Too, at the Federal came the vehicle in the 1970s, used primarily as a vehicle stripes on the inner German border.
The production of Courier car began in 1968 with 16 copies in the main factory in Wolfsburg. By 1974 there were 57 574 units produced. Thereafter, production was moved to the Volkswagen plant in Hanover. In Hanover, left to 1975 a total of 10,629 vehicles the tape. The last domestic manufacturing facility with 2,323 units was the VW plant in Emden (end of production in 1978). In America was the Courier car distributed with considerable success. 1970 and 1971 were so-called Exports CKD kits from Wolfsburg and assembled in the recipient country. From 1972, the VW Safari was built entirely in Mexico. The output resulting from that production vehicles are on the oversized ElefantenfuÃŸrÃ¼ckleuchten to recognize., such as the Volkswagen Beetle 1303 The blow came for the VW Safari in the U.S. at the beginning of 1975. Provisions on safety newly adopted there for new vehicles could not meet the safari. However, he was, despite the U.S. ban, which the Sales fell further in Mexico produces. In 1980 ran in Puebla only 695 cars off the line. Thereafter, production was discontinued after 64 254 units in the last production facility for the VW 181. In the period from 1968 to 1980 140 768 vehicles rolled off the production lines, which exceeded expectations at Volkswagen.
Some parts of the VW type 181 found after the cessation of production at the VW Iltis use, such as the window frame with modified hinges, Verdeckspriegel, sun visors, windshield wiper motors and the window glass.