VW 181 Facts & Figures


Boschen, Lothar, Das grosse Buch der Volkswagen Typen: alle Fahrzeuge von 1934 bis heute.
Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-87943-799-8. German text.Descriptions of all VW models, including the VW 181: model changes on p.361-364, four official photographs on p.364 and 366, some technical information on p.365 and production figures on p.586-587.
Kurze, Orth, Volkswagen Kübel 181 Reparaturtips, Ersatzteiltricks, Technik.
German text, 79pp + 50+pp photo's/illustrations.
This 15x21 cm. sized book has technical info and tips, addresses, etc. Arnd Klinkhart (VW 181 Geländewagen-Club of Hamburg, Germany) thinks it is 'not too good'. However, he says that for a Thing driver it appears to be a 'must have' item as it is one of the few books around 'and as such I would recommend buying it just to have it'.
Schreier, Konrad F. (editor)
  • VW Kübelwagen Military & Civilian 1940-1975 (1st edition)

  • Cobham: Brookland Books Ltd. ISBN 1-85520-2182. English text, 140pp + approx. 250 illustrations.
    One of a series of VW books consisting of reprints of original road test reports and other articles that appeared in leading motoring journals during the periods concerned. This volume covers the Type 82, 128, 181, Country Buggy, The Thing and Iltis. It contains comparisons, specifications, road tests, driving reports, history, maintenance, technical data and operation.
  • VW Kübelwagen Military & Civilian 1940-1990 (2nd editon)

  • VW Kübelwagen Military Portfolio 1940-1995 (3rd edition)

  • Portrayal Press. ISBN: 1855202182

Manual, (Owner's) Instruction

(Owners') Instruction Manuals were originally issued with each VW 181 sold. They came in various languages.
Language  VW Code Date  Note
English  158.582.20  8.70 
-,,-  3.02.561.032.23  1.74  The VW THING Registry once re-published an enlarged (to 8.5" x 11") reproduction of this 90 page 1974 THING owners manual (contains gas heater info so is same as 73's). 
-,,-  0.00.561.045.20  10.74 
-,,-  000.561.052.20  10.75 
-,,-  000.561.088.20  8.79 
French  561.015.40  8.71 
German  158.269.00  9.69  Reprint is available at the VW Kübel-Klub Germany.
-,,-  0.00.562.058.00  1.77
Spanish  unreferenced  8.77 Printed in Germany

Manual, Parts / Service

BN4 Heater Manual
The VW THING Registry had published a reproduction of the original Eberspächer service & parts manual, plus 4 pages of VW parts illustrations & p/n's (commercially available in the USA).
Colour Wiring Diagram Manual
(Commercially available in the USA.)
Type 181 Parts Manual (160 pages)
The VW THING Registry had published an all new parts manual with new illustrations from VW Germany. This is not a copy of the microfiche. Also has paint codes, options lists and other helpful info (commercially available in the USA).
Type 181 Service Manual
The VW THING Registry had published a translated reproduction of the German military manual for Type-181s. Has about 600 illustrations (photos mostly) and a colour copy of the THING wiring diagram. Covers most areas that the general VW manuals miss that are unique to THINGS (commercially available in the USA).
Technical Recommendations - Journeys under difficult conditions
This VW publication (part number 000 5340 71) was published in 1985 and may still be available. It covers the VW 181 as well as the Beetle, Transporter and Golf.

Manual, workshop

There are no specific workshop manuals (Haynes, Bentley, etc.) available for the VW 181. Those meant for VWs in general are usable. However, some Beetle manuals do mention the VW 181. For example:
Reperaturanleitung VW Käefer. Band Nr. 979, 980, 981.
Stuttgart: Motorbuch-Verlag. ISBN 3-7168-1785-2. German text.
Mainly a manual for the Beetle, but at the end there are some pages where the differences between the VW 181 and the Beetle are explained. The VW 181 is also mentioned in the list of technical data (torques, etc.) and a wiring diagram is included.
Workshop Manual for Volkswagen Beetle from 1968, Intereurope Manual #157
Maidenhead: Intereurope Ltd, 1971. SBN 901610-35-6. English text, 122pp + 18pp tables etc.
Acknowledges the 181 as a Beetle variant, and gives details as appropriate where the 181 differs significantly.

Parts List

As for all models, Volkswagen AG in Germany published a Genuine Parts Illustrated Catalogue for the VW 181. This is not a real parts list: it only contains sketches for positive identification when ordering parts. Latest know edition is the 1990 one, order no. 000.7340.86.89, which should be available through your VW dealer.

Source: David Campbell (e-mail 29 Oct 1996); Christian Demmer (e-mail 97-07- 02); Kenneth Green (e-mail of 7 Jan 1999); Ian David Harrison (e-mail of 97-05-02); Arnd Klinkhart (e-mail of 96-12-29); Bob Miller (VW Thing mailing list digest 11.4.95); Hanno Spoelstra.


Loring Kohrt has put the 1973 Thing owner's manual on-line at The Internet 181 Club.

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Last update: 24-03-2000

Copyright © 1996-2000 H.L. Spoelstra / All Rights Reserved