(Motorsport-Total.com/Motor1) – Few know this extreme point: the fox caterpillar. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Oldtimer has returned the 60-year-old to new condition. It conveys an exciting story at the same time…
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Caterpillar Fox (1962) VW T1 Unique with Track Chain Drive
In May 1962 this is a Volkswagen T1 It was produced in the Hanover factory and sent to its buyers in Austria. After a short life as a regular T1, it was turned into an alpine specialist in the hands of a VW mechanic: Kurt Kretzner converted the Bulli into a four-axle T1 – two of them with chain drives, two of them driven by twin wheels.
Historical sources say that Kurt was an avid skater. Note that there was a huge lack of off-road transportation in the mountains of Austria at that time. Those that were easy for everyone to drive and yet they could easily climb to the highest pastures. Neither Pinzgauer nor Mercedes G existed yet.
The perfect helper
“An ideal assistant for everyone: cottage manager, hunter, forester, doctor, maintenance crew for lifting systems, television and radio systems, pipelines and the like,” Kretzner later wrote in sales documents for Caterpillar Fox.
The inventor designed and built the summer program for over four years. Foxes may have been made by 1968, and production of the third faltered after that. However, what has survived is at least one specimen of a caterpillar fox.
The Viennese inventor planted a dual axle geared with 14-inch twin tires at the front and a dual axle with a chain drive at the rear under the Bulli body painted orange. The tracks were installed on 13-inch wheels and were a special construction of aluminum elements with rubber blocks 2 cm thick to preserve the asphalt.
Half-lane steering for better control
Double front axle steering resulted in a turning circle of less than ten meters – almost turning, and each wheel was equipped with a brake.
The automatic locking gear ensures evenly distributed thrust even in deep snow. The T1’s engine was powered by a standard boxer engine that has a displacement of 1,192 cc and 25 kW (34 hp). The caterpillar fox reached 35 km / h, and therefore was a little slower than its name from the animal world.
Kurt Kretzner wanted to build a tracked vehicle that was easy to control. Precisely for this reason, the mechanic did not choose sequential steering on all axles like a bulldozer, but for half-track (only on the drive axles) and almost normal, albeit double, front-wheel steering.
The caterpillar fox must return to the cliffs
And this is how the inventor of the caterpillar fox declared: “The new, ideal and easy-to-use caterpillar vehicle with which you can safely and comfortably control any difficult terrain. You can use snow, sand, stones, alpine meadows, swamps, small streams and forests to drive this device.”
The caterpillar fox has been rarely seen over the years. The T1 last appeared in Vienna in 1985 before it was bought by the Porsche Museum in Gmund in the early 1990s. At some point, the caterpillar fox then became the property of Bullikartei eV – a community of Bulli first generation fans.
In 2005 they began the first attempt to restore the private car in the high Alps. Unfortunately, the restoration was not completed due to logistical reasons for the association’s scattered members nationwide. At the end of 2018, the car entered the Volkswagen range of Oldtimer commercial vehicles. Objective: The caterpillar fox must return to the slopes.
Technology and interior have been updated
There, the classical experts began a complex reconstruction. As with all factory restorations in Hanover, the 60-year-old body was stripped of paint, repaired, coated with KTL paint and largely repainted in the original orange.
The orange died so that – according to the intention at the time – the caterpillar fox could be immediately recognized in snowy landscapes and rugged terrain. The Volkswagen Oldtimer Commercial Vehicle Team has brought the technology back to new condition. Likewise the interior.
The team was able to release their creations for free there, as there were no reliable specifications. Beech and pine were individually adapted to the space in the caterpillar fox and functional tool holders were installed.
This is how Bulli leads into the future:
In the spring of 2022, it’s finally time – a caterpillar fox slashed its tracks through the snow once again. And with an extraordinarily good climbing ability: after a complex restoration of the four-axle vehicle, the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Team Oldtimer was able to see that the driver succumbed on the steep slope much sooner than the grub fox.
Anyone wishing to see this one-of-a-kind car live will have the opportunity to do so on Saturday, May 28, 2022 at the Bullikartei eV annual meeting in Meinhardsee near Eschwege.
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