Six decades ago, an entrepreneurial mechanic turned a Volkswagen microbus into a half-track. The unique van, known as the “Half-Track Fox”, has again come out of a full recovery to deal with the hilly terrain.
Half-track Fox was built in May 1962 at VW’s plant in Hanover, Germany. It was delivered to Viennese VW mechanic Kurt Kretzner, who soon transformed it into something more suitable for the alpine trail.
Kretzner wanted a van with good off-road capability that would still be easy to drive, according to VW. Unable to find a vehicle that would meet these requirements, he decided to build his own.
Volkswagen half-track Fox
While this is a true half-track, Fox differs somewhat from the many mass-produced versions that were most used by Allied and Axis forces during World War II. While these vehicles had a conventional wheel set at the front and a tank-like track assembly at the back, the half-track Fox has four axles – each with its own set of wheels.
The front two axles have dual wheel sets with 14-inch tires and can steer both. The rear 13-inch wheels are assembled with a track made of aluminum and rubber blocks. Kretzner opted for this arrangement because, with conventional front wheels, it would be easier to steer than a fully tracked car, according to VW. The 32.8-foot turning circle allows the van to rotate within its own length, the automaker notes.
The stock is powered by a 1.1-liter Flat-4, which produces only 33 hp. This limits the top speed to 22 miles per hour, which VW noted is a bit slower than a real fox.
Volkswagen half-track Fox
Kretzner planned to publish this seemingly unusual vehicle in production, and even in sales literature. Two more are believed to have been built before 1968, but their location is unknown.
The half-track Fox kept a low profile before being purchased by the Porsche Museum in Jimund, Austria (not to be confused with Porsche’s official museum in Jফfenhausen, Germany), and was later sold to EV by a group of microbus enthusiasts in Bulkarte. In 2005, the group launched a recovery that was never completed. The half-track Fox was then sold to VW in 2018, and is now part of its commercial vehicle division heritage collection.
The recovered half-track Fox Electric made its universal debut just in time for the European launch of the VW ID. Gunjan is scheduled to arrive in the United States in 2023 as the 2024 model, ID.Buzz was inspired by the original microbus and will be built in Hanover. It will probably look pretty good as a half-track, too.