In 1911, he produced and patented the first design of a cross-country fighting vehicle with swiveling gun turret (a tank), based on American agricultural tractor. He called his tank the Motorgeschütz (literally "motor-gun"). His draft design, more advanced than some of the tank designs of World War I, was rejected both by Austria-Hungary and by the German Empire and no prototype was ever produced. He later sought to patent his design, but was told that it might infringe existing patents, so he dropped all plans.
In 1941 Burstyn was awarded the War Merit Cross, 1st and 2nd class, with Swords. At the end of World War II (April, 1945) he committed suicide because he feared Soviet captivity.
Malnig, Helmut W. (2009) "Der erste Kampfpanzer der Welt: Gunther Burstyn und sein "Motorgeschütz" " [The world's first battle tank: Gunther Burstyn and his "motorized gun"], Truppendienst, 309 (3) [in German]. Available at: Austrian Federal Army: Truppendienst
Austrian patent no. 53,248 (filed: 1911 March 1 ; issued: 1912 April 25).
German patent no. 252,815 (issued: 1912 February 28).