Classics

WWII German 'Kettenkrad' motorcycle half-track being auctioned

  • kettenkrad

     (Bonhams)

  • kettenkrad

     (Bonhams)

  • kettenkrad

     (Bonhams)

A rare example of one of the most unique vehicles used by Nazi Germany in World War II has been restored to its original condition and will be auctioned by on March 19th.

Known as the Kettenkrad (a German portmanteau for "tracked motorcycle"), the NSU SdKfz is a small half-track with handlebars and a saddle up front and two jump seats in the rear. It was designed to be transported aboard a Junkers Ju 52 airplane, and was primarily used to tow artillery, transport supplies, and lay communications cables in difficult terrain, but was also tasked as an airplane tug and found life in post-war Europe as an agricultural tool.

Powered by a 36 hp 1.5-liter Opel car engine, and featuring a three-speed transmission with high and low ranges, it had a top speed of 50 mph that made it the fastest tracked vehicle used during the war.

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A larger five-passenger version with a more powerful engine was developed, but never went into production due to the Kettenkrad's high production costs, according to The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II.

Just over 8,000 Kettenrads were built through 1949, and while it’s unknown how many survive today, military versions remain an uncommon sight. This is especially true of one that’s in such good shape and on its way to the auction block.

It’ll be there at the Bonhams Goodwood Member’s Meeting in England, where it’s expected to sell for approximately $100,000.

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Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.