What’s cooler than even the most cutting-edge, modern motorcycle? How about an armor-plated, tank-treaded, German-made wartime motorcycle-tank — one that you can actually own?
That’s the appeal of the diabolical contraption pictured above, which hits the auction block later this month. The 1944 “Kettenkrad” — “ketten” for “tracks” and “kratrad” for “motorcycle,” according to GearHeads — may be one of the most unusual machines ever produced during World War II, a Teutonic mini-tank designed to haul heavy equipment across any conceivable terrain. Apparently, only 8,000 were made, and only a few of those have survived the intervening years.
Don’t let the strange design fool you. While the Kettenkrad may not have gained the sort of pop-culture status that the U.S. Army’s Willys MB “Jeep” enjoyed after the fall of the Axis, it’s still one hell of a machine. Here are some of the specs, courtesy of the gearheads at HiConsumption:
The Kettenkrad is powered by a 1478cc inline-4 water-cooled engine, the same one used in the Opel Olympia car featured throughout the German military. This made repairs an easier task since German mechanics were more familiar with this engine which helped mitigate the learning curve for inbound WWII mechanics. It boasts an output of 36 bhp, a three-speed transmission, the ability to climb inclines of 25 degrees or more and a bone-shaking top speed of 50 mph.
It you can’t resist adding this feisty little beast to your collection of World War II memorabilia (or your collection of strange land vehicles), you’d better move quickly: It’s only available on Sunday, March 19, at the Bonham’s auctions at the Goodwood Member’s Meeting — and it’ll set you back between $73,000 and $98,000 at least. Then again, that’s a small price to pay to roll up in a sleepy country town with your buddies like this: