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Thing (Type 181) (1973-1974)

Type 181(Thing)
When a “181” is converted to Type IV power it becomes a “481”!

A “481” is my terminology for a rugged vehicle that has the power needed to push a 2,700 pound, square nosed, less aerodynamic vehicle down the freeway at speeds unparalleled by a Type I engine, and do so for a minimum of 100,000 miles!

The THING is a great candidate for conversion treatment, it’s design, especially the engine bay, makes the conversion easy, and also makes it easy to get to when trying to do maintenance on the engine. The added torque of the Type IV engine is welcomed when it comes to better driving characteristics, crossing mountains, or cruising the speed limit on the freeway for hours. The stock gearbox of the THING will hold the power of the Type IV engine without problems, but for abusive or off road applications it should be upgraded to either bus gearing or a better-built Type I gearbox. We offer a wide range of options for a gearbox for a TIV converted 181, and we can design and build the transaxle to any specification as long as its transmitting Type IV power!

Imagine being able to jump in your Thing, drive at the speed limit or above……Imagine being able to never use 3rd gear again to pull a hill…..Imagine getting 25+ MPG no matter how hard you drive the Thing…….And most of all imagine only opening the deck lid to show the engine to your other VW buddies that just got amazed at 90Mph in a Thing!! With a Type “481” this is a true reality that I have experienced! With the larger engine the car handles higher speeds easier and feels more stable in crosswinds, the way it changes the car is un believeable! It does all this and still idles smoother than a stock TI engine!

Our MassIVe DTM shroud kits will fit into the “THING” and will do so without any cutting required. The Shroud fits like a glove in the engine compartment, and looks like it belongs there! The shroud installs onto the engine quickly and easily. This is especially true if you opt for our deluxe kit with all new TI cooling parts and our water-jet cut sheet aluminum airs sealing kit.

Being a THING owner means that you car came from the factory ready to bolt the TIV engine to your current gearbox (as long as it has not been swapped, if it has we have the pieces to adapt it easily)if you have any post 1971 gearbox no conversion pieces are needed and the engine is a direct bolt up.

The installation of the engine into your vehicle is easy, it installs just like a standard Type 1 engine with dual carburetors and in most cases can be done in about the same amount of time. With the 181 there is plenty of space to get into the engine bay

Currently there are only a few exhaust systems for the TIV conversion. We are working on getting several of these imported and offering them as well. These exhaust systems do not incorporate standard heater boxes and fan shroud pressurized air for heat delivery are more difficult to arrange with a TIV conversion. The owners of 1973 181s already have a gas heater, so they are set to go. For those with a 1974 181 I highly suggest sourcing a gas heater. I have one in my 1973 181 and have always loved it.

The conversion engine will need to be fitted with Dual Carburetors, or a Fuel injection system that uses twin throttle bodies with hex bar linkage. The design of the shroud does not allow the use of a single carburetor. Single carburetors on large engines like the TIV have been proven to be inefficient, so this is not an issue with most conversion enthusiasts.

One of the best parts of our cooling system is that the engine does not look like a 911, or a TI, it looks like something many people have never seen, and that will separate you at car shows and events.

My personal “181” has been converted to a “481” and is now being fully restored and will be outfitted with my newest engine combination, the 2316″B”. I drove it as a normal “481” for a year daily before deciding to add the suspension upgrades and make it a full time off road/play car. If your application is a THING, add a “big Block” and enjoy higher top and cruise speeds as well as added acceleration.

Of course, if you desire your conversion engine to be designed, balanced, blueprinted assembled and thoroughly dyno tested by a professional, then see our complete conversion engines on our sister site Do it all once and forget it! See our 2270″B” or 2316″B” for the engine you really need to wake up the “481”!