Hey-Burner: Anton’s 1971 Volkswagen T181 Trekker/Thing

This weeks “Hey-Burner” – Our weekly readers rides – comes from friend of Hayburner, Anton Murrells and his classic 1971 Volkswagen T181 Trekker/Thing “The Thing”. Anton has been a lifelong VW fan and is a massive part of the community here in the UK, so it’s awesome we get to feature his T181 on this weeks “Hey-Burner”.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning, who are you, what’s your age and where are you from?

A: My name is Anton Murrells. I’m 51 years old and I’m from Orpington in Kent. 

Q: What’s your day job and do you have any other hobbies?

A: I’m a fire fighter for the London fire brigade. In my spare time I teach karate, DJ for vdubradio and I’m the mouth for the Grill-n-Chill car show. 

Q: What’s you ultimate VW/Porsche?

A: I don’t really have one as I’ve been lucky enough to own more than my fair share. But I love my ‘56 lowlight Ghia. It’s got a 2276cc EFi turbo motor out back and does the 1/4 mile in 14 seconds… in street form!

Q: Favourite VW event?

A: I like the Volksworld show in March as it means the show season is starting again. And, it’s great for catching up with friends. BugJam up at Santa Pod is also a firm favourite with something for everybody. 

Q: What got you into Volkswagens and how many have you owned before this one, can you list them?

A: As a kid, I used to drive passed a car dealers with my dad when visiting my granddad. They had a bright purple Beach Buggy there for £800 (we are going back 35 years). I thought it was the coolest thing in the world back then. 

I didn’t get my first Volkswagen until I was 18, which was an 1981 Golf GLS convertible off an ex-girlfriend. Then 3 months later, I bought a ’72 1303S off another ex… since then I’ve had over 300 dubs. Not all bought from past loves!

Rather than list all the cars I’ve owned, here’s what I’ve currently got:


  • 1956 Ghia
  • 1958 Ghia
  • 1959 Ghia 
  • 1963 Split
  • 1964 Split 
  • 1966 Volksrod
  • 1967 Volksrod
  • 1970 Berris Mini T 
  • 1971 Bay
  • 1971 Trekker 
  • 2004 T5


  • 1961 356 Notchback 
  • 1975 911 Targa
  • 2002 Boxster S

Q: Who, or what, would you say your biggest influence is in the worldwide VW community?

A: Having been into VWs for over 30 years now, it’d be too hard to narrow it down to one or two people. I’ve always been in awe of Bernard Newbury – He’s a true legend of the VW community in my opinion and I still turn into a little kid when I think of the first time I realised he knew my name! 

A few other people I’d like to mention – Simon Emery of the PaintBox, somebody I just clicked with. THE Paul Wisk – Without him and his Barndoor of the woods there wouldn’t be half of the buses saved that are out there today. Stu Betty for his dedication to the B289/Nostalgia scene and last but not least Darren ‘SFD’ Claggett – everybody needs a Darren in their lives if they own an old vdub!

Q: Best moment during classic VW/Porsche ownership? 

A: I was stoked to run a 12-second 1/4 mile to get into the Outlaw Flat Fours, but I think that is in second place to proposing to my then girlfriend, now wife, at Grill-n-Chill. 

Q: Worst moment during classic VW/Porsche ownership?

A: I honestly don’t think I’ve had a ‘worst’ moment. They’re all just experiences that turn into stories to tell around a camp fire with your friends. Even things like having my old ’54 single cab burnt to a crisp in a barn fire, or breaking the crank in my ’55 split – They’re just one of those things. 

Q: So, what is it we’re looking at here? (Year, Spec and Model)

A: It’s nothing special. Just a 1971 Volkswagen Thing (Trekker/T181) dropped on spindles at the front and two clicks on the rear. Wheels are JBW Cosmic Reps on adapters. Engine is a simple 1300dp with a Vintage Speed exhaust to help it get down the road a little bit better. 

Q: What’s the story? How did you get hold of it?

A: It’s one of those incestuous cars that’s been in our club, The PaintScraper’s, for years and has gone through a few owners. Ray was the first guy to own it – he then passed it on to Myles as his Porsche powered Bay needed some love. He never really used it and I was in the market for another car. So, we made a deal and home ‘Orville’ came. 

Q: Did the car come with any history?

A: Nope, nothing at all. Just a logbook and a smile. 

Q: Tell us about the condition of the car when you first got it home?

A: Thankfully Sam at VWorks had given it a quick once over before it came my way. But, there’s always a few little issues with old cars. 

When it’s so low it’s a little bouncy. This caused one of the jubilee clips to rub on the body and wear a hole in a fuel line. A little trimming and turning the clip upside down – We were good to go. 

Q: Run us through the restoration/recommission, and who did the work?

A: The car was pretty much how you see it now when Myles bought it from Ray. Other than a change of wheels, we’ve not really touched it. 

Q: Paint colour (and code if you know it)?

A: Green…. 

Q: Suspension set-up? 

A: Drop spindles on the front and turned two splines at the rear. 

Q. Wheel and tyre type and sizes?

A: Porsche pattern Cosmic copies on Wide 5 adapters. 

Front tyres are 165/50R15’s and the rears are 185/60R15’s. 

Q: Engine and gearbox?

A: 1300dp with a stock IRS box. 

Q: Have you replaced the electrical system? 

A: A few bits, but not a complete rewire. 

Q: Were there any parts that you found hard to get hold of?

A: Thankfully, I’ve got some good contacts in the US for parts. 

Q: What is your go-to VW parts shop? 

A: In the UK, I tend to use Cool-Air. 

Q: Run us through the original interior? 

A: You have seen the inside of a Thing?! Front seats are aftermarket but rear seats have had their covers replaced. Other than that, just some custom made ‘Thing’ floor mats. 

Q: Accessories?

A: A radio, a key ring and a couple of stickers!

Q: Have yo got a stereo fitted and if so, what are you currently listening to? Either in the car or those late nights in the workshop/garage

A: There is a radio. But, you can’t really listen to anything if you’re doing over 30mph. 

What do I listen to? Vdubradio.com of course!

Q: What’s your favourite thing about it? E.G – Wheels, Paint, Detail, Trip it’s been on, Memory with it etc.

A: You’ve got to love the look of the car with the roof down, door tops off, and the windscreen folded flat. 

We did this at the Run the Ring gathering and ended up limboing under the ropes of the camping pitches!

Q: If you had change one thing, what would it be and why?

A: As much as I like the look of the wheels, they rub on the arches on the rear because of the adapters. So I’d either swap for some Wide 5 wheels or have them machined out a couple of millimetres. 

Q: What’s next for you and the car?

A: I’ve got a couple of builds that need some time and money. So, the Thing is going up for sale over the winter. Perfect timing to sell a convertible!

Q: How often do you use the car?

A: It gets used a few times a week for local trips like food shopping, visiting mum, driving to work, etc.  

Q: Whats your next project going to be?

A: My ’63 split (the Tiger King bus) is currently in for paint. Once it’s back, we’ll finish up the interior – Ready to show the world next year. 

Q: Who would you like to thank connected to the project?

A: Nobody. But, I’d like to thank whoever is the next owner (it’s now for sale!) and FootMan James for providing free breakdown cover with my insurance policy!

Click here to submit you car for a future ‘Hey-Burner’! or send your email over to nick@hayburner.co.uk

Anton's 1971 Volkswagen T181 Thing - Full Gallery