The Ultimate VW Bus Isn’t a Camper Van, It’s the Mountain-Ready “Half-Track Fox”

Sorry hippies, this snow-tackling variant used in the Austrian Alps is the GOAT

The orange Volkswagen Half-Track Fox, a 1962 Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter that was built with tracks to tackle snow on mountains in Austria
Forget California beaches, this VW van was built to handle snow-covered mountains in Austria.

The 28th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has come and gone with two cars capturing the bulk of the public’s attention: At the four-day event in Florida, a 1962 Ferrari sold for more than $18 million (breaking the record for most expensive sale), and a 1935 Avions Voisin with a particularly painstaking restoration won Best in Show. If you ask us, though, there’s a workaday vehicle that captured our hearts.

We’re talking about a 1962 Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter van known as the “Half-Track Fox.” The mountain-climbing, orange-dipped, quad-axle off-roader is equal parts rugged and whimsical. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and it puts all of the classic VW camper vans to shame. 

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Old-school VW buses aren’t necessarily the type of cars you expect at a prestigious concours like this, but the event added a class for first-generation (T1) Type 2s in conjunction with Volkswagen as the automaker is drumming up hype for the debut of its electric ID. Buzz van, which is slated for sometime later this year. A 1951 Deluxe 15-Window Transporter owned by Joe Mond of Iowa took home the Best in Class award, but the Fox, which was displayed alongside other curiosities like the bus from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was arguably the most compelling of the bunch.

The story of the Fox was revived in 2022 when the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) Classic Vehicles unit completed a restoration of the 1962 model. In a press release at the time, VW explained that the van was converted from a standard four-wheeled vehicle into a four-axle monster, with a steered double axle in front and a chain-drive double axle in back with tracks like a tank or snowmobile. A Viennese man named Kurt Kretzner spent four years designing and building the Fox in the 1960s, apparently intending to use the vehicle to more easily get up and down the Austrian Alps even in the deep snow. 

The orange Volkswagen Half-Track Fox, an orange Type 2 Transporter van with tank-like tracks
Yes, the 35 km sign on the rear is an indication of the top speed: about 22 mph.

“At first, I had a look around, but couldn’t find the vehicle I was dreaming of. So, I decided to build it myself,” Kretzner once wrote, per Volkswagen. He is also documented describing the Fox’s capabilities like so: “Snow, sand, stony ground, mountain meadows, small streams and woods can all be driven through in this vehicle.”

Apparently that’s still the case today. Last winter when VWCV Classic Vehicles was in the midst of the restoration, the team took it for a drive in some fresh powder and found it still “[channeled] its way through the snow” and had “unusually good uphill capability.” As the automaker wrote, “[T]he driver was more likely to capitulate on steep climbs than the Half-track Fox!”

If you want to see photos of the Fox at Amelia Island last weekend, MotorTrend was on the scene and got a top-to-bottom look.

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