The original VW T1 bus was one of the most practical vehicles ever produced, but Volkswagen’s classic arm touches the finish in a restored example that takes that spell to another level.
Known as the Half-Track Fox, this 1962 bus is one of only two transformed by an Austrian mechanic who can handle the country’s alpine terrain, whatever the weather, without sacrificing the internal practicality of a regular T1.
Kurt Kretzner, a keen skier, claimed that in the early 1960’s there were several vans available with such off-road capabilities for hunters, doctors, ski-lift engineers and other professionals who needed to travel long distances. So he makes his own, with words, as German speakers call a bus four axles. The front two axles are fitted with double-row wheels and T1 steering, and the rear has two tracks fitted for maximum traction in difficult running conditions on 13-inch wheels.
Each of Fox’s wheels has a brake, a limited-slip differential, and an impressively small 33-foot (10 m) curved circle, which means it’s perfect for carving into pine trees along snow-covered hillsides. But while a standard 34 hp (34 PS) provides 1,192 cc flat-four muscle and a maximum speed is limited to just 22 mph (35 km / h), it certainly can’t be too fun on a flat, paved road.
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Volkswagen says the Alps bus was rarely seen after construction, but was launched in Vienna in 1985, and was purchased by the Porsche Museum in Gmünd, a small town in Austria the following decade, where the Porsche company began its life. An attempted recovery was made in the early 2000’s but failed for logical reasons. The fate of the T1 changed in 2018 when Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ (VWCV) was acquired by the Classic Vehicles division.
VW’s team exhumed and repaired the 60-year-old’s body before repainting it in its original matte orange color, a color originally chosen so that the half-track fox could stand out against the Alpine countryside. The mechanics and interior were also restored to a completely new state, completing an appropriate museum-grade restoration. But in the provided images it is great to see that VW is not too valuable for its very special T1 to show that it still has rice. Even if they are slow.
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