Sunday, August 7, 2011

Car of the Week: Volkswagen 181

Hey Guys

Some of you might like it, some not and some might never heard about it: the Volkswagen 181, or better known as "Kübelwagen" ("bucket car").
The model name changed to 182 for the right hand drive form. It was produced from 1969 to 1983 but in 1980 the civilian sales stopped.

During the 1960s several european governments were start planning to develop a lightweight amphibious vehicle that could be mass produced for various governments and militarys.

Like the World War II era Type 82 Kübelwagen, the Type 181 used mechanical parts and a rear-engine platform, manual transmission and flat-4 engine derived from that of the Type 1. The floorpans came from the Type 1 Karmann Ghia, which had a wider floorpan than the Beetle.

Civilian sales began in mainland Europe and Mexico during 1971, in the U.S. in 1972 and briefly in Britain in 1975 (Type 182 = RHD) where it failed to sell well and was dropped fairly quickly.
Notably the Type 181 was reclassified as a passenger vehicle, and thus subject to stricter safety standards. The Windshield Intrusion Rule of the 1975 DOT standard called for a greater distance between the front seat occupants and the front window glass. This change was mandated due to increasing safety standards at the time.

From 1968 until 1979, over 50,000 Type 181 were delivered to the NATO forces. By 1979 the Europa Jeep project had fallen apart completely and was abandoned, and the German government began supplementing their consumption of 181s with the new front-engined Type 183 Iltis, which featured four-wheel-drive based on the old DKW Munga and some Audi 100 components including engine.

Despite the German government's switch to the Type 183, European and Mexican sales of the civilian 181 continued through 1980, and several organizations, including NATO, continued to purchase military-spec Type 181 units through 1983, finding their reliability and low purchase and maintenance costs attractive.

In the United Kingdom it's already pretty well known as the Trekker (Type 182 in RHD form), in the United States as the Thing, and in Mexico as the Safari.


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