volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’

volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’

From a Viennese Volkswagen mechanic

 

As an avid skier, Viennese Volkswagen mechanic Kurt Kretzner would climb up mountains in Austria with his ski gear, lugging its weight against the pervading force of gravity that would push him down. He noticed the absence of vans or car designs with high standard off-road capabilities that could weather the steep slopes and easily be maneuvered by their driver. ‘At first, I had a look around, but couldn’t find the vehicle I was dreaming of,’ he wrote. ‘So, I decided to build it myself.’

 

Kretzner spent four years designing and building his mountain climber, and what has survived from his 1960s creations is the Half-track Fox. ‘An ideal helper for everyone: mountain hut keepers, hunters, foresters, doctors, maintenance engineers for ski-lifts, TV and radio masts, pipelines and the like,’ Kretzner later wrote in the sales literature for the Half-track Fox. Kretzner converted the Bulli into a T1 with four axles – two of them fitted with a chain drive mechanism and two double tires to steer the vehicle. ‘And thus, he created what is probably the most off-road-capable Bulli ever to be seen on the mountain slopes of this world,’ VW shares.

volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’
images from Volkswagen

 

 

Restoration results

 

VWCV Classic Vehicles has just finished bringing Kretzner’s 60-year-old vehicle back to mint condition. Originally produced in the Hannover plant in May 1962, the T1 lived a short life before being sent off to its purchaser in Austria where Kretzner worked on it to transform the Bulli into the behemoth T1 seen today. Kretzner installed a steered double axle with dual rough-tread 14-inch tires at the front and another double axle with chain drive at the back under the orange-painted Bulli body. The chains were mounted on 13-inch wheels, and the Viennese mechanic constructed his own design of aluminum elements with rubber blocks, two centimeters thick to spare the asphalt.

 

As a result of the dual front-axle steering, the turning circle was less than 10 meters, so it could almost turn within its own circumference. Each wheel was fitted with a brake, and an automatic limited-slip differential allows even distribution of 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 thus only slightly slower than the animal kingdom member from which it got its name,’ VW explains.

 

The VWCV Classic Vehicles team was given free rein to restore the vehicle, and they chose wood components in beech and pine to use as the van’s interior. In February 2022, the restoration came into completion, and the Half-track Fox channeled its way through the snow once again, bearing the vision that it could work its way up to steep climbs without problems.

volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’
volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’

 

 

 

Built for easy steering

 

When Kretzner thought of building a tracked vehicle, he envisioned one that could navigate through all-terrain with easy steering. To materialize his goal, he switched from using steering via chains to chains only on the drive axles and a doubled-up, front-wheel steering mechanism. That’s how he promoted Half-track Fox, ‘The new, ideal, easy-to-drive Half-track Fox that lets you safely and comfortably master all difficult terrain. Snow, sand, stony ground, mountain meadows, small streams, and woods can all be driven through in this vehicle.’

 

VW says that the vehicle was rarely seen over the years, but at the end of 2018, the Half-track Fox came into the collection of VWCV Classic Vehicles to bring its aim of restoring it to fruition. Under their guiding principle of “Erinnern. Erleben. Erhalten.” (Remember – Experience – Preserve), the classic vehicle experts began the restoration of the 60-year-old van where it was stripped of paint, repaired, given a cathodic dip coating, and repainted in the largely original shade of matte orange, conferring Half-track Fox its recognizable signature look back in the day.

volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’
half-track fox weathers all-terrain

volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’
designed by Viennese Volkswagen mechanic Kurt Kretzner

volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’
matte orange for the restored version

volkswagen restores quad-axle, all-terrain ‘half-track fox’
wood components of pine and beech for the interior

half-fox-db-ban

interior view

 

project info:

 

name: Half-track Fox

team: VWCV Classic Vehicles

company: Volkswagen

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