VW 181 Facts & Figures > Index > Parts interchangeability

Parts interchangeability

Many of the mechanical parts on a VW 181 are interchangeable with some other model VW. Most come from the type 1, but some type 2, 3 and 4 parts are also used. Check the listings in a parts manual for a VW 181. Some parts are unique to Things and other versions of the VW 181.

The list below points out which parts are VW 181-specific and which ones are interchangeable with those from other VW types.

This list is never complete, so if you have anything to add and/or correct please let me know!

Brake parts
Hose: as the VW 181 floor pan is the same shape, Karmann Ghia brake lines fit perfectly. Front: VW part no. 181 611 701 (easily swapped for 113 611 701).

Protection plate - Front: VW part no. 181 611 369.

- Front:
- Rear:  same as August 1960 - July 1963 type 2 (Bus).

CV joint
VW part no. 113 501 331D
Bug and Bus CV joints don't have the same ability to operate at as severe a drive angle as the type 4 joint used in the type 181. Thus will operate up to an angle of approximately 21 degrees, versus 17 degrees for the Bus joint. However, as a temporary fix, the Bus joint (VW part no. 211 501 331B) can be made to work.
The type 4 and 181 CV joint can be fitted to a Beetle transmission. Just use the transmission flange from the original on the new transmission. It's only this flange that is different on the trans.

Flasher unit
There's only one flasher for both emergency and turn signals. Although it's a very VW only looking part, they are available as a Beetle replacement item from most VW accessory stores.

Gearbox (transaxle)

Sheet metal
About the only part that is probably not available "new" any more is the front sheet metal panel known as the apron. All other parts are thought to be available from one or more of the known U.S. sources. Parts are even harder to find in Mexico than in the U.S.

Floor pans
As the VW 181 floor pan is the same shape, Karmann Ghia floor pans will fit. Note: they do not have the stock VW 181 pressed rib pattern.

 Note: to make local repairs in the door sills, use the skin off an old door - the ribs are the same shape.

Starter motor
All VW 181s were orginally fitted with a the starter motor as found on semi-automatic ("Auto Stick") Beetles. These have just a gear on the end of the starter and not any shaft or pin protruding past the gear about 2 inches. Some of the transmissions are not even bushed for stock Beetle starter motor type (on which the aft end of the shaft is supported by a bushing in the bell housing).

Steering wheel
VW 181s, unfortunately, used two different steering columns and steering wheels. The "early type" seen mostly on 73's can be identified by the metal trim around the key switch area, the "late" version, found mostly 74's, has a plastic trim assembly in the same area. Not only is the trim different, but the steering wheel spline is different so most 73 steering wheels won't fit 74 steering columns and vice versa.
The good news is that the "late" style (74's) is identical in spline and other fitments to most later VWs. Of Rabbit sports wheels all the splines, compression tubes and even the horn and turn signals align between the VW 181 and the newer wheel. Also other VWs and Audi's steering wheels should fit right in place of the stock wheel.

Suspension, front

Wheels and tyres

Source: Ken Crimmins (things-digest V1 #459, e-mail 03-11-1999, 19-11-1999, 12-11-2002); Ian David Harrison (e-mail of 97-05-02); Todd Hill (e-mail of 3 Dec 1998); Scott Kreisher (e-mail 98-09-21, 16 May 1999); J. Milo Lanoue (things-digest V1 #259); Joe Locicero (e-mail 15 Sep 1998, 5 dec 1988); Bob Miller (VW Thing mailing list digest 8.12.96, 12.17.96, 12.19.96, 12.15.96, 5.6.97, etc.); The Thing Shop (digest 12.19.97); Vince Things Unlimited (e-mail 17 Dec 1998).


Download the VW Parts Interchange Manual at James Genovese's site.

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Last update: 24-12-1999 / 13-09-2002

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