The ultimate go-anywhere “motorcycle”, a 1944 NSU Kettenkrad, was sold for £51,750 at auction on Sunday, March 19.
The German machine went under the hammer at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting but went for less than its pre-sale estimate of £60,000-£80,000.
The Kettenkrad was designed for the German Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.
It was a light, multi-terrain, towing vehicle which came with high and low transmission ranges: ‘Gelande’ – off-road, and ‘Strasse’ – street.
The six-speed machine was powered by a 1478cc inline water-cooled engine from the Opel Olympia car and an advanced track system which used roller bearings and padded tracks. It had a top road speed of 50mph, making it the fastest tracked vehicle of WWII.
Designed for German airborne forces, it was the only gun tractor small enough to fit inside the hold of the Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft.
Kettenkrads were used in almost every theatre of war and proved reliable in all conditions, from the arctic Russian winter to the heat of the Western desert.
They were used to tow anti-tank guns as part of feared tank-busting teams; tow ammunition trailers to the front line; lay cables, and ferry troops to difficult locations.
Later in the war they were even used to tow Messerschmitt Me 262 jets up to the runways in an effort to save scarce aviation fuel.
According to Bonhams’ sale notes, “the Kettenkrad was typical of vehicles designed and manufactured for the German Wehrmacht during WWII: innovative, well made, and generally superior to equipment used by their enemies.
“Designated ‘SdKfz 2’ by the German Army, the Kettenkrad was an ingenious half motorcycle, half tracked vehicle, hence its name – ‘ketten’ meaning tracks, ‘krad’ meaning motorcycle.”
Only 8,000 NSU Kettenkrads were produced during WWII and as almost all German army equipment was destroyed at the end of the war, very few remain.
There are no details of this machine’s service record, but the chassis is stamped VIN 116381, which dates it to September 1944; it is also stamped 474, which indicates post-war use by the German Forestry Commission.
Details of the new owner have not been disclosed.
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