The VW Kubelwagen of WWII was resurrected in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the form of the VW “Thing,” designated the Kubel 181. It was first developed for the German military and used by the Technische Hilfswerke, postal system, fire departments, and border patrol, gaining a modicum of popularity in the United States with assembly at the VW Puebla factory near Mexico City.
Although VWs in military guise were built in relatively small numbers, they had a noticeable impact during World War II, proving the versatility of the original design. Due to the politics of the day, the VW was underutilized and never achieved the universal acceptance of the American jeep. Once the war was over, though, the civilian, rear-engine, air-cooled VW was a great success for another half-century, assembled and exported around the world.
Originally Published in 2018.