Sixty years ago, a classic Volkswagen Type 2 T1 bus left the company’s Hanover factory for a buyer in Austria. It didn’t take much time to run around the country as a van before Viennese mechanic Kurt Kretzner modified it into a one-off all-terrain monster. Kretzner spent four years designing and building what became known as the Half-Track Fox.
The modified Volkswagen has four axles. Two at the front, with 14-inch tires, steer the vehicle, while a pair at the rear has a chain drive mechanism that turns the 13-inch spinner into a track. The setup allows the bus to have a turning circle of about 32 feet (10 meters).
Kretzner called the bus “the ideal helper for everyone: mountain hut keepers, hunters, foresters, doctors, maintenance engineers for ski lifts, TV and radio masts, pipelines and the like,” he wrote in sales literature. Kretzner also noted that he “couldn’t find the vehicle I was dreaming of. So, I decided to build it myself.”
The mechanic fitted each tire with a brake, and he installed an automatic limited-slip differential to help regulate power, which wasn’t much. The modified Type 2 T1 gets its power from a 1.2-liter engine that produces just 33 horsepower (25 kilowatts). It had a top speed of just 56 miles per hour (35 kilometers per hour).
While only one Half-Track Fox remains, it is believed that Kretzner built a second. However, only this was found. After Kretzner built it, it disappeared for several years before ending up at the Porsche Museum in Gmünd, Austria. It then ended up in the hands of Bullikartei eV, a community of first-generation Bulli lovers. The group began rehabilitating the bus in 2005, but these efforts failed.
Half-Track Fox fell into the ownership of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in late 2018. The team began a complete restoration process on the bus, even repainting the stripped and repaired exterior bodywork in a similar matte orange color. VWCV gave its designers freedom over the interior, which saw beech and pine wood used throughout the cabin. Half-Track Fox made the official trip in February this year, traversing the snow with ease.