VW restores rare split-window Bus with tank-like tracks

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Volkswagen's Classic Vehicles division has restored what it calls the most unusual split-window Bus ever built. Made in 1962, this panel van earned the nickname "Half-Track Fox" after it gained a pair of axles and tank-like tracks to tame even the toughest terrain in the Alps.

Buyers couldn't walk into a Volkswagen dealer and order a Bus on tracks; Half-Track Fox was developed by a Vienna-based mechanic named Kurt Kretzner. Most sources agree that he was an avid skier who identified a market for a van that was easy to drive and capable of reaching places that were well off-limits for other vehicles. His target audience included "mountain hut keepers, hunters, foresters, doctors, and maintenance engineers for ski lifts, TV and radio masts, pipelines, and the like," according to Volkswagen's archives department.

Kretzner spent over four years developing the Fox. Up front, the van features two directional axles each fitted with four tires. Out back, it's fitted with two driven axles linked by aluminum and rubber tracks. Power comes from an air-cooled, 1.2-liter flat-four that wasn't modified during the build, meaning it's tuned to develop approximately 34 horsepower. It spins the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transaxle and a Fox-specific limited-slip differential. While the van was tremendously capable off-road, it had a top speed of about 20 mph.

Volkswagen explains that the example it restored was spotted in Vienna until 1985. It was purchased by the privately-owned Porsche museum in Gmünd, Austria, in the early 1990s and later sold to a group of split-window Bus enthusiasts who planned to restore it but never did. In late 2018, the Half-Track Fox joined the Volkswagen collection and was treated to a ground-up restoration. Mechanics stripped the paint, made any and all required body repairs, rust-proofed the body and repainted the van in its original shade of orange. The engine and the transmission were rebuilt as well, and the interior was fully overhauled. Volkswagen completed the restoration in February 2022.

Most historians agree that two examples of the Half-Track Fox were built by the time production stopped in 1968. Only one is believed to have survived, though the second could be lurking in a barn in a rural part of Austria; keep your eyes peeled if you travel there.

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