A customer phoned in and asked if he could bring his “VW version of the Jeep” into our shop so that we could have a look at the indicators. He also referred to it as “The Thing” and we told him to bring it in so that we could inspect it.
When it arrived it caught most of the younger staff members off guard. Fascinated, we asked him about the vehicle and the cost. He told me that you could probably have one imported for about “25 000”. At first, I was considering getting my own Kubelwagen until I realised he meant U.S Dollars.
The Kubelwagen is an example of brilliant, but expensive German engineering.
Ferdinand Porsche, yes the founder of Porsche, first designed this off-road version of the Beetle in January 1938 for Adolf Hitler. He needed a light, easy to manoeuvre, and durable vehicle for his soldiers. Despite not being a 4x4, it is rear-wheel drive and has a self-locking differential. The Kubelwagen was also known for its ground clearance and flat bottom, so the soldiers' chances of getting stuck in all but the most severe muddy areas were slim-to-none. Yet, even in those conditions, the vehicle was still light enough to be lifted by the group and moved back onto solid ground.
The customer had a 1944 Type 82 Kubelwagen of which 51 000 units were made and exported. They were used in America, England and Mexico and were dubbed "The Thing.", "Trekker" and "Safari" respectively. There were many variations of this vehicle and the parts were surprisingly not interchangeable. It is the kind of vehicle that definitely makes a statement, and it is not the sort of car you will find on gumtree or webuycars.
The electronics and mechanics of this machine are very similar to a beetle and we managed to trace and repair his fault relatively quickly - a missing earth on the flasher unit. The customer also owns the American Jeep used during the same period of time in history and, wonderfully enough, he promised he would bring it round for us to have a look at.
These interesting cars always come with interesting stories and backgrounds.