VW Half track restoration

VWCV Classic Vehicles has just finished bringing a unique 60-year-old vehicle back to mint condition: the ‘Half-track Fox’. This T1 was produced in the Hannover plant in May 1962. After a short period of life as a normal T1, it was transformed by Kurt Kretzner into a T1 with four axles – two of them fitted with a chain drive mechanism and two steering the vehicle using double tyres.

Kurt Kretzner was a keen skier and he found that in the mountainous regions of Austria there was a scarcity of vans with high standard off-road capabilities: ones that were easy for anyone to drive and yet could climb up to the highest Alpine meadow. “An ideal helper for everyone: mountain hut keepers, hunters, foresters, doctors, maintenance engineers for ski-lifts, TV and radio masts, pipelines and the like,” as Kretzner later wrote in the sales literature for the Half-track Fox. “At first, I had a look around, but couldn’t find the vehicle I was dreaming of. So, I decided to build it myself. Kurt spent over four years designing and building his mountain climber. Two ‘Foxes’, were built in the period up to 1968.

Under the orange-painted Bulli body was, at the front, a steered double axle with dual rough-tread 14-inch tyres and, at the back, another double axle with chain drive. The chains were mounted on 13-inch wheels and a construction of his own design made of aluminium elements with rubber blocks two centimetres thick to spare the asphalt. As a result of the dual front-axle steering the turning circle was less than 10 metres – so it could almost turn within its own circumference. Each wheel was fitted with a brake. An automatic limited-slip differential ensured evenly distributed forward propulsion even in deep snow. The T1 drew its power for this from its standard 25 kW / 34 PS flat engine with a cubic capacity of 1,192 cc. The Half-track Fox reached a top speed of 35 km/h and was slower than the animal kingdom member from which it got its name.

Kurt Kretzner wanted to build a tracked vehicle that would be very easy to steer. It was precisely for this reason that he opted for a half-track solution (with chains only on the drive axles) and an almost standard, albeit doubled-up front-wheel steering mechanism.

Over the years, the Half-track Fox was rarely seen and in the early 1990s it was bought by the Porsche Museum in Gmünd.

At the end of 2018, the Half-track Fox came into the collection of VWCV Classic Vehicles. The aim: to get the Half-track Fox up and running again. Under their guiding principle of “Erinnern. Erleben. Erhalten.” (Remember – Experience – Preserve), the classic vehicle experts began a painstaking process of restoration. The 60-year-old bodywork was, as is the case for all factory restorations in Hannover, stripped of paint, repaired, given a cathodic dip coating and repainted in the largely original shade of orange. Matt orange, in fact.

The VWCV Classic Vehicles team also got the mechanicals and interior back into as-new condition. The team was able to give free rein to their creativity there, as there were no onerous specifications. Wood components in beech and pine were individually adapted to the space inside the Half-track Fox, and practical tool holders installed. In February 2022, the Half-track Fox channelled its way through the snow with unusually good uphill capability.

Further information can be found at:
Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/VolkswagenNutzfahrzeugeMeinWerk/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/volkswagen-commercial-vehicles-/
VWCV podcast ‘wetransportsuccess’: https://www.radio.de/p/wetransportsuccess

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