Behold! The Volkswagen Half-Track Fox | CAR Magazine

Behold! The Volkswagen Half-Track Fox

Published: 27 May 2022 Updated: 27 May 2022

► Full factory restoration of rare custom VW
► More off-road capability than entire current line-up
► Massive 33bhp means top speed of 21mph

Well, here’s something you don’t see every day. This fine orange specimen is a Volkswagen T1 Bulli – something you might think of as a VW Microbus – converted into a half-track.

It’s a period creation, the mad genius of Viennese Volkswagen mechanic and alpine skiing enthusiast, Kurt Krezner, who marketed the idea as the Half-Track Fox back in the 1960s. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ Classic Vehicles department has just completed a full working restoration of this example, one of only two ever built.

What. The. F…??

Krenzer, it seemed, was intent on creating the ultimate, all-terrain snowy mountain accessory. According to the original sales literature, the Half-Track Fox was designed as ‘An ideal helper for everyone: mountain hut keepers, hunters, foresters, doctors, maintenance engineers for ski-lifts, TV and radio masts, pipelines and the like.’

Volkswagen Half-Track Fox, orange, driving over hill

He went on: ‘At first, I had a look around, but couldn’t find the vehicle I was dreaming of. So, I decided to build it myself.’

And the result is as you see here – a VW T1 with eight axles, split between a double set of conventional wheels at the front and a pair of chain-driven tracks at the back.

How does the Half-Track Fox work?

Remarkably well for something with just 33bhp, apparently. VWCV Classic Vehicles completed the rebuild in February 2022 and has – as you can see from the pictures – been out and about in it already. The team there reports on ‘unusually good uphill capability’, suggesting ‘the driver was more likely to capitulate on steep climbs than the Half-track Fox!’

And this despite VWCV also wryly point out that with just 1,192cc to play with, ‘The Half-track Fox reached a top speed of 35 km/h [21mph] and was thus only slightly slower than the animal kingdom member from which it got its name.’

Volkswagen Half-Track Fox, orange, rear view, log pile

Creator Krezner’s major ambition was to develop a go literally anywhere machine that was easy to steer. Tracked vehicles are typically turned by braking and/or accelerating the track individually, whereas half-tracks like the Fox retain steering front wheels making them easier to handle.

For the Fox, Krenzer elected to fit a double wheel assembly at the front, with both sets of wheels steering. This plus an automatic limited slip differential at the back contributes to an impressively tight turning circle of around 10m. The track setup at the back was his own design.

Said the sales literature: ‘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.’

But only two were built?

It seems no-one was really convinced by the sales pitch, eh? Just two were constructed between about 1966 and 1968. A third was in-build when production – if you can call it that – ceased but was never completed.

This one was based on a T1 that left the factory as an entirely standard model in May 1962. It had a short, ordinary life before Krenzer got his hands on it.

Where’s it been since then?

Apparently it was occasionally seen in Vienna up until 1985, then the Porsche museum in Gmund purchased it sometime in the 1990s. A bunch of first-generation Bulli enthusiasts subsequently began a restoration attempt in 2005, but this didn’t really get anywhere.

VWCV Classic Vehicles got hold of it in 2018, which when it finally began the renewal that led to the machine pictured here.

This is a proper factory restoration – yes, VW does that for classic vans – treating the 60-year-old bodywork to a full strip and dip before repainting in the ‘largely original’ shade of matte orange, plus a total overhaul of the original mechanical components.

Volkswagen Half-Track Fox, restored interior, rear load compartment
Volkswagen Half-Track Fox, restored interior, rear load compartment

With nothing to go on for the interior, however, the team was given free rein – resulting a cabin fitted out in pine and beech, with built-in tool holders and more.

The following test drives have been anything but shy, as you can see in the gallery above. This leaves us with only one further question: when can we have a go?

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first