VW has restored a very special one-off Bulli. Only two examples of this T1 tracked vehicle existed, one is now reborn in mint condition.
Exactly 60 years ago, in May 1962, this VW T1 transporter saw the light of day in the VW plant in Hanover - still as a very well-behaved panel van with four wheels, one on each corner. From there he made the journey to Austria, which was much more hilly, and initially pursued the good Bulli day's work until Kurt Kretzner went to the tin. The Austrian dreamed of an "ideal helper for everyone: hut manager, hunter, forester, doctor, maintenance staff for lift systems, television and radio systems, pipelines and the like" and thought of building a real snowmobile for the high mountains from the cuddly box. With caterpillar drive and two steering axles, ready for any terrain.
Two steered front axles
However, the planned series production by Kretzner led to a rather manageable small series of two copies, one of which survived the passage of time. In, one suspects, rather not quite optimal condition. After a few changes of ownership in Austria, the caterpillar fox came back to Germany. Originally, the association Bullikartei e.V., a community of fans of the first Bulli generation, wanted to take care of the restoration of the crawler Bulli, but at some point the project was put on hold for logistical reasons.
The best thing that can happen to an old VW bus followed: The professionals from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Oldtimer took over the vehicle in 2018 and began the total restoration. As with all factory restorations in Hanover, the 60-year-old body was stripped of paint, repaired and repainted with a dip coating to protect against rust in the original orange tone. The entire technology was also restored to new condition.
Because there were no reliable original documents about the interior, the classic car experts in Hanover went into creative mode. The result is a rustically furnished interior with beech and pine wood paneling and lumberjack romance.
Of course, the drive technology was also restored true to the original, an interesting challenge. The two steerable front axles with 14-inch wheels each have twin tires, while the two rear drive axles with 13-inch wheels have been fitted with a hand-made track chain. It consists of aluminum elements with rubber profiles and can therefore also be ridden on asphalt.
With the standard 34 hp of the T1 boxer, speed escapades are more of a dream than reality anyway, but the caterpillar fox is a little more comfortable. The top speed determined for the four-axle crawler bulli is around 35 km/h, leaving enough time to take in the scenery. The caterpillar fox now has its first public appearance at the annual meeting of the Bullikartei in Eschwege. And in the future, we are sure to meet the orange chain Knuffel one or the other time at events.
Probably the most off-road capable Bulli in the world shines again in new splendor. The experts at VW Commercial Vehicles Oldtimer restored the 60-year-old T1 back to new condition from a rather worn-out one-off with caterpillar drive. With a double steered front axle and two tracks over the two rear axles, the iconic box makes its way through any terrain. You just can't be in a hurry.