This electric Volkswagen Thing is more fun than a new e-Golf
11 May 2017 - Autoblog
Icon, the California shop behind vehicles like this Toyota FJ44 and first generation Ford Broncos, has been expanding its reach in the past few years.
Moving past its off-roading roots has allowed the company to customize all sorts of vehicles, from a 1967 Volkswagen Type 2 to a mid-1990s police-spec Chevrolet Caprice. With this 1973 Volkswagen Thing, Icon has made another step forward into the world of electric vehicles.
This new model is part of Icon's Derelict series that is meant to combine classic and often unrestored style with modern mechanical components. In that vein, the yellow paint on this Thing (Type 181 if we're getting specific) is untouched and all original. From a distance, it looks like nothing more than a particularly well-maintained Volkswagen. As Icon founder Jonathan Ward explains in the video, the real details require a keen eye.
The biggest difference between a standard Thing and Icon's creation is the ditching of the anemic Volkswagen flat-four in exchange for an electric powertrain. Icon worked with Zelectric, Stealth EV, and AM Racing, the latter for the electric motor. Total output is 180 horsepower and either 180 or 210 lb-ft of torque (Ward says 180 in the video, but the description lists 210). That's nearly four times the power of the VW's original engine.
The entire drive unit is wonderfully displayed in the Thing's rear. As with other Icon projects, a lot of thought was put into presentation as well as driving dynamics. Unfortunately, the 40 kWh battery pack takes up most of the frunk, leaving little room for any luggage. The intakes on the rear fenders are still used to keep the motor and battery cool.
Other mechanical upgrades include Wilwood disc brakes, fully adjustable coilover suspension, and the addition of swaybars. There is a custom digital gauge cluster in place of the old analog unit, showing all relevant EV information. An upgraded sound system (anything would be an upgrade over stock) places bluetooth speakers at the car's corners.
A refreshed top, new door uppers, a Line-X floor, and miles of weatherstripping were added to cut down on noise and rattles. As Ward says, the car always rattled, but the quiet electric motor makes it far more noticeable.
Watch the video for a full breakdown from Ward as well as a few shots of the new Thing doing donuts.