The Volkswagen Minibus of the 1960s is typically associated with old-school hippies or modern-day hipsters who’ve converted the vehicles into luxe campers, but the old T1s were far more versatile than you think. Case in point: the T1 “Half-Track Fox” conversion that was built to tackle the snowy Austrian Alps. Originally converted in 1962, Volkswagen has just completed a full restoration of the unique one-off, bringing the most rugged Bulli ever built back to its former glory.
The Half-Track Fox began its life as a regular ol’ T1 back in 1962, when it was sold to Austrian VW mechanic Kurt Kretzner. An avid skier, Kretzner wanted a van that could traverse the winter terrain of the Alps, and since no such vehicle existed at the time, he built it himself. Kretzner outfitted the van with four axles: two steerable ones at the front with dual rough-tread 14” tires, and two at the back outfitted with a chain link drive. Kretzner designed his own custom track for the chain link to fit around the 13” tires, combining aluminum elements with 2cm-thick rubber blocks. The half-track bus drew power from the Bulli’s standard 1,192 cc engine and had a top speed of just 35km/h.
Over the years, the Half-Track Fox bounced around from owner to owner, a time period that included a stint at the Porsche Museum in Gmünd. Then, in 2018, it finally came home to VW, being purchased by VWCV Classic Vehicles with the stated goal of completely restoring the vehicle to working condition. The paint was stripped and refinished in Kretzner’s original matte orange (for visibility in the wilderness), and the mechanics were overhauled to match proper working conditions. The only major changes from the original design came in the interior, where VW’s team added beech and pine components and installed practical tool holders.
VW tested the Half-Track Fox in snowy mountain conditions back in February (though they’ve just now revealed this expedition), and we’re happy to hear that the unique T1 performed flawlessly. It’s unclear what the future holds for the Half-Track Fox, but you can learn more from VW.