A modified version of VW’s classic T1 Bulli minivan, dubbed “the Half-track Fox” for its unusual chain-drive system, has been restored to mint condition.
The micro-bus was designed by a single man in Austria in the 1960s to tackle difficult mountain terrain.
All-terrain camper van
Making its way off the assembly floor in 1962 in Hanover, Germany, the T1 was shipped to Austria and into the hands of a Viennese VW mechanic, Kurt Kretzner.
Kretzner was an avid skier who needed a vehicle that was easy to drive but could handle Austria’s mountainous regions with ease.
“I had a look around, but couldn’t find the vehicle I was dreaming of. So, I decided to build it myself,” Kretzner later wrote in a sales book.
His invention was intended to be “an ideal helper for everyone: mountain hut keepers, hunters, foresters, doctors, maintenance engineers for ski-lifts, TV and radio masts, pipelines and the like.”
He modified the T1 to have four axles – two front axles for steering and two rear axles which connected to a double-tyre chain drive.
The rear tyres are 13 inches, one inch smaller than the front tyres to accommodate the rubber treads, which Kretzner tested to make sure the vehicle wouldn’t damage the asphalt on normal roads.
The dual-front axle means the Fox has a turning circle of under 10 metres, meaning the vehicle is nearly capable of turning within its own circumference.
Every wheel is fitted with its own brake, and the Fox uses an automatic limited-slip differential to ensure that propulsion is delivered equally to each wheel even when trudging through deep snow.
The powertrain remained the same with the T1’s 25kW engine, allowing the Fox a slow but steady top speed of 35km/h.
It took four years for Kretzner to design and build his vision, and in the end, two Foxes were produced.
The Half-track Fox made several public appearances since its inception until the 1990s when it was brought to the Porsche Museum in Gmünd.
From there the Fox was bought by the ‘Bullikartei e.V.’ – a society of T1 Bulli enthusiasts who attempted to restore the vehicle in 2005 but were unable to complete it due to logistical reasons.
It wasn’t until 2018 that the Fox came into the hands of VWCV Classic Vehicles, which began the full restoration process.
The now 60-year old car was stripped of its bodywork and paint and repaired, and a beech and pine wood interior was fitted.
The original orange colour scheme was kept as the intention was for the car to be instantly recognizable in the countryside.
Finally, it was ready, and the Half-track Fox travelled again for the first time in decades earlier this year.