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60-Year Old Volkswagen T1 Bulli Has Been Restored to ‘Mint’ Condition


It is orange because it should be “immediately recognisable in the countryside”. You would even recognise it from Mars: Welcome to the Volkswagen T1 Bulli you did not know you wanted until now.

It’s called the  ‘Half-track Fox’ and was dreamed up in May 1962 by Kurt Kretzner. Kurt wanted an easy drive car but could still go up a hill without much fuss. He could not find anything on the market, so he built his car.

According to Volkswagen, Kurt spent four years designing and building this orange Helpy McHelperson. He transformed an ordinary T1 Funbus into the extraordinary four-axle Spider. Under the body of the Bulli, he fitted a steered double axle with 14-inch dual tyres at the front and another double axle with chain drive at the rear.

The chains were then mounted on 12-inch wheels and a “self-designed construction” made of aluminium and 2-cm-thick rubber blocks to “protect the asphalt”. It is a half-track vehicle – hence the name – with chains only on the driven axles and “almost normal, albeit doubled” front-wheel steering.

Each wheel had its brake, a limited-slip differential, and power was supplied by the Bulli’s 1.2-litre boxer engine with 30 hp. Yes, you have had stronger sneezers than this.

Yet Volkswagen claims the Bulli is “only slightly slower than the member of the animal kingdom from which it takes its name”, thanks to a top speed of 22 km/h.

Kurt said this was the off-road vehicle of all off-road vehicles. “Snow, sand, stony ground, mountain meadows, small streams and forests can all be traversed with this vehicle,” he said.

Unfortunately, only two examples were built, and this is the only one that still exists. Shortly after its completion, it disappeared from public view, only to reappear in Vienna in 1985 before being bought by Porsche in the early nineties. It was then acquired by the ‘Bullikartei e.V.’, an association dedicated to the Bulli. They started the restoration early on but were unable to complete it.

Then Volkswagen came along. The classic car department bought it in 2018 and restored it from the ground up, even repainting it in that charming shade of orange. And as you can see in these pictures from February 2022, it is “instantly recognisable”.

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