The concept Unimog was probably conceived during WWII in the early 1940’s. This earliest model was likely to precede the other vehicles of this era because of its all-wheel-drive and troop carrying capabilities. When WWII ended the German society was restricted to the types of vehicles they could build. The biggest problem facing their society was hunger. The Unimog was developed as a multipurpose vehicle for farming, agriculture, auguring, snow blowing and the list goes on.
These first models included the 2010, 401, 402 and 411. In the brink of the cold war and the west’s integration into NATO, Mercedes was contracted by the military to build the ‘S’ type model 404. This became the largest production run of Unimogs at over 64,000 units. This gasoline driven, inline 6 cylinder, quickly became the ‘do it all’ vehicle for many nations throughout Europe and beyond. With 6 speeds forward and 2 reverse, an engine that would run on low octane fuel, full locking gear reduction hubs, and a departure angle of 46º the Unimog quickly became the number one choice. The massive transmission also had special covers that mounted PTO’s (for front or rear driven implements) and Creeper Gear sets to lower the forward momentum to a ratio of nearly 300:1.
Of course Mercedes continued to build more Unimogs, however, the models that followed never reach anywhere near the production runs of the late 50’s through the late 70’s. Even a few of the 404 S models were made in 1980. The acronym Unimog came from the German phrase UNIversal-MOtorGerät (universal-power-unit) or UNIMOG.
Today the Unimog is a highly sot after vehicle for recreation and expeditions throughout the world. Today, as in years before, the 404 still remains the number one choice for the first time recreationist. Because of its simplistic design and ease of operation most modern day mechanics’ can work on these vehicles without much trouble. To view Unimogs that are from around the world just click here.
Some of the other common Unimogs used in civilian recreation are the 406, 416, 421 and the 1300L. Although these models are diesel operated they too are tuff vehicles. These vehicles also increased in size and weight. These vehicles were also upgraded with air locking devices, where the 404 was manually operated. Here are some old advertisements for the 404. Click the picture for a larger image.
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Here is an additional photo of how remarkable these vehicles are!!!!