|Range||Daily driver range|
|Body||Cabriolet 4 places|
|Production||40 327 exemplaires|
|Motor||4 cylindres refroidissement à air|
|Gearboxe||Mécanique à 4 rapports.|
|Dimensions||L : 3,78 m - l : 1,64 m|
|Mileage||32 700 (compteur)|
|Price||29 900 €|
In the 1960s, NATO decided to set up a European project for a light military vehicle known as the ‘Europa Jeep’. The design brief stipulated that it should be light, easily manoeuvrable and with good off-road abilities to allow four soldiers to undertake operations quickly. The car had to be reliable and require only minimal maintenance. Volkswagen worked on the brief and in 1968 proposed the VW 181. The car was in fact a utility vehicle based on the Beetle and carried over its 1.6-litre engine developing 46bhp. All the components needed to build it were already used on the company’s other models. The chassis, for example, came from the Karmann Ghia. The four plastic doors were interchangeable and the windscreen could be folded flat. The vinyl-covered interior was particularly spartan. On the first versions, the gearbox was fitted with a reduction drive. This proved unnecessary and was dropped in 1973.
However, the project gathered dust in Brussels and was eventually abandoned. Meanwhile, VW sold its own model to the Germany army, with whom it proved a resounding success. Volkswagen also marketed it in rural areas, thanks to its suitability for cross-country use. These intended customers shunned the 181, but its concept found favour with younger, nonconformist buyers looking for freedom. Originally designed as a military ‘courier car’, poetically known as the ‘Kurierwagen’, it often ended up driven by hippies on the Larzac plateau or the beaches of the Landes. The car was basic but full of charm. The rear-mounted flat-four produced a nice sound, while its high ground clearance and strengthened chassis let it venture off the beaten track. This spirit continues to delight users today and ensures that there is still considerable interest in this unconventional Volkswagen. Production of the 181 came to an end in 1983. It has become highly sought-after on the classic car market as few cars have survived the sometimes harsh treatment they received.
The model offered for sale
This 181 was first registered on 10 July 1974 and is in excellent condition. It was restored a few years ago, so that the car can be used today just as when it left the factory. Mechanically, it is in perfect condition, as is the whole car. It is hugely enjoyable to drive. The sound of the VW engine and the car’s military appearance make for a combination that is surprising, unusual and ultimately very pleasant. Few 181s remain on the market in this condition. This model will be sold serviced and with a 12-month warranty.