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Porsche Wanted To Build A Jeep Fighter Decades Before The Cayenne

Too bad American dealerships hated the idea.

If it worked for Jeep, then why not for Porsche? That, more or less, was the thinking at Stuttgart in the early 1970s. Off-roading was becoming more popular at the time, especially in the US, thanks to developed civilian versions of World War II vehicles, specifically the Jeep CJ. As explained in this video from Der Faszinatin, Porsche wanted to expand its US sales beyond just sports cars, and so management came up with the Type 181 - years before the first Cayenne ever rolled off the assembly line.

At its core, the Type 181 was leftover WWII engineering, only with a Porsche 914 engine paired to a five-speed manual, updated suspension and a unique gauge package. Yes, for those who already know, it ended up becoming a Volkswagen, called "The Thing."

Why didn’t the Type 181 reach mass production? Because American Porsche dealerships thought the idea was completely nuts. Who wanted a Porsche off-roader? There was one Nevada Porsche-VW dealership that was wild about the Type 181, and managed to get just one built specifically for it, out of a total of five made. By 1973, the Type 181 became the The Thing, and was lost to history in name only, except for one thing: the heirs to the Nevada dealership still own that Type 181, and today it’s the only known one left in existence.

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