The Unimog
December 18, 2013 9:36 AM   Subscribe

"With the exception of a tank, this is the most capable production vehicle on the planet."
It was in the autumn of 1945 that the first drawings for an agricultural vehicle were produced by Albert Friedrich, the former head of aircraft engine design at Daimler-Benz. [...] The Unimog S started its career two years later.
The UNIMOG (short for UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät) is Mercedes-Benz's go-anywhere, do-anything truck. Produced in various forms since 1948, it was originally designed as an agricultural vehicle, a replacement for the tractor—hence its track width of 1270 millimeters, or two rows of potatoes.

The result was a vehicle of uncommon utility. The Unimog 404 series, widely considered to be the exemplar of the line, was produced for a variety of civilian and military markets from 1955-1980, and included all the Unimog standards: power take-offs for providing power to winches, pumps, and all manner of farm tools, portal axles for high ground clearance, coil-spring suspension, and a drivetrain designed with huge amounts of axial articulation. (The US military wouldn't get a vehicle with a portal axel until the adoption of the HMMWV.) The ultra-low gearbox also makes possible some interesting parking strategies.

What're they like to drive? The fine folks over at Rocky Mountain Moggers have compiled a FAQ, along with extensive photo-documentation of their many club excursions.

The Unimog even makes a capable racing truck, so long as you're racing in the T4 class of the Dakar Rally.
posted by Sokka shot first (42 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- Brandon Blatcher

And the Unimog can also be used as an All-Terrain Audio/Visual Assault Vehicle.
posted by donovan at 9:49 AM on December 18, 2013

There's one in my neighborhood and I get a goofy grin whenever I see it. I would love one of these for…uh…errands. And stuff. And camp-outs, too! Scout camp-outs!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:54 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was gonna buy an old Jeep Cherokee XJ to tool around in, but maybe I should get one of these instead.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2013

And if you need your Unimog tweaked out for mad science expeditions to volcanoes or the surface of the moon or what have you, there's the MAXIMOG.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:59 AM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I always wanted a Unimog. Closest I ever got was a blue and red Matchbox with yellow rims. Kinda wish I even still had that one.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:03 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a new lottery-win object of lust. I'd then sent it to for a nutjob customization.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:04 AM on December 18, 2013

I've always wanted a Unimog too. Even more so having spent a few months off-road in outback Oz.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2013

It's a little heavy, isn't it?

I'd go for something by de Rosa in lugged steel.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have been fighting the desire to purchase this for my son. And myself...
posted by combinatorial explosion at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2013

the guy down the street from us has 2 Unimogs, as well as an assortment of falling-apart VW rustbuckets, most of which (the VW rustbuckets, I mean) have apparently not moved under their own power since the Clinton administration. From what I've casually observed, despite fairly abject neglect, the Unimogs will start first time every time he needs to move them around to prevent the cops from ticketing them as "derelict" and there's no better vehicle for the 2 foot snow events we've had from time to time.

He's been halfheartedly attempting to sell one of them for ages and I'm not exactly why no one has taken him up on it, although I have no clue what he's asking. He's also an OTR truck driver and builds giant weird contraptions every year to haul to Burning Man so maybe he's just too flakey and/or weird. He's a good neighbor, though.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:13 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

A few years ago the Jaguar dealership near my commute had an old one of these. I have lusted after one ever sense. The price they wanted wasn't bad, but I certainly didn't have that kind of cash to just blow.

(I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall for that trade in conversation)
posted by Twain Device at 10:13 AM on December 18, 2013

One of my best friends' family has a big farm down in Oregon, and they host a yearly get-together called Mogfest. I got to go a few years ago. The farm has a pretty amazing/scary all terrain course, similar to what's in the video, except steeper/twistier in places, and all mud/dirt.

The unimog is truly an amazingly capable offroad vehicle. What amazed me even more? All the guys with jacked up suspensioned Syncro Westfalia vans who could run almost the same crazy course elements as the Mogs! I had no idea that Syncro Westies could be such offroad beasts!
posted by stenseng at 10:13 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Now, why would you want more than one gear in reverse. Well... suppose you wanted to move a train."
posted by at 10:14 AM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

It's a little weird that his previous "best" was the Ford Raptor. There's a lot on offer between that and this. He also seems amazed at the number of gears, but my Tacoma has ten forward and two reverse. He must not get out much.

If I hadn't given up on offroading (and driving, pretty much), this would still be on my list. There are a few in town so they're not impossible to get in Canada.
posted by klanawa at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2013

I was skeptical, honestly, but damned if I don't REALLY want one of these things now.
posted by Mister_A at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2013

the guy down the street from us has 2 Unimogs

You're sure he doesn't have one Bimog?
posted by yoink at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2013 [13 favorites]

I wonder why bacterial flagellum didn't scale up.

More here.

Oh, and I want one of those.
posted by vapidave at 10:16 AM on December 18, 2013

A friend of mine owns two of these. They are absolutely awesome! He lives on a mountain, gets several feet of snow, and these beasts are the best vehicle for living there. He regularly stops to pull stranded cars out of snowbanks during his daily winter driving. He also goes offroading a lot, and they kick ass for that too.

They are expensive new, but last forever. Both of his are 20+ years old (maybe more), and he bought them used for very reasonable price. One used to be a snowplough at a small regional airport on the east coast. Pretty slow though, you don't want to commute in one.
posted by Joh at 10:32 AM on December 18, 2013

yoink: hahahaha!

also I do have to say that giving visitors to our house the directional cue of "turn off of [major arterial], proceed 2 blocks then turn left at the Unimogs" is simultaneously the best landmark and most awesome apparently random non sequitur I can think of. And it works 100% of the time - once you get past the initial "wait, what?!" nobody EVER misses the turn, despite our entire neighborhood being an otherwise indeterminate grid of midcentury tract houses on identical streets.

yes, they show up on google maps/streetview and no I'm not linking it here much as I like y'all :)
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:34 AM on December 18, 2013

I keep edging towards buying a mog or a pinzgauer but haven't taken the plunge yet. They are both super practical vehicles, if by practical you mean carrying a ton or so of cargo up 45 degree inclines and fording deep rivers. Around town commuting, not so much.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:37 AM on December 18, 2013

This is the farm/event/course I was talking about.

Jump to the 11:00 min mark for some crazy offroad course footage.
posted by stenseng at 10:39 AM on December 18, 2013

Also, wasn't the mog developed as a work-around to the ban on military development post war? It was an "agricultural" vehicle, as compared to a real ag-focused vehicle. This might be in one of the links already, it's hard to check them all on my phone.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:41 AM on December 18, 2013

There's someone in my area (farmer, I think) who has one. It needs some maintenance something bad because the exhaust stinks to high heaven.
posted by plinth at 10:46 AM on December 18, 2013

We are idlily thinking about getting a used Gator or tractor and now I want desprately to buy this
posted by shothotbot at 10:56 AM on December 18, 2013

Under its own power? Or on a trailer?

Classy response to the top speed question. Will apply to our old VW in the future.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2013

I've long had a completely unjustifiable desire to get a Pinzgauer, especially one of the 6x6 models. And then to give it a weird paint job.
posted by adamrice at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I bought one about 15 years ago (Swiss Army surplus!) for $5000. It was literally unstoppable. I used it mainly as the support truck for our 4x4 club, it ran great on the beach, and never got snowed in. But after 10 years of maintenance costs, the no doors and canvas top lifestyle got a little tired, so I sold it for $8000.

I never missed it until last winter, when we got 30 inches of snow 6 hours. It would have been fun to just drive out the driveway.
posted by Marky at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Previously: MaxiMog
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:51 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

combinatorial explosion: "
I have been fighting the desire to purchase this for my son. And myself...

I bought it with my birthday money. Holy crap is it cool.
posted by notsnot at 12:46 PM on December 18, 2013

Nice thing about Unimog is that it looks exactly like it sounds.
posted by Mister_A at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Heck with all those strutting brutish beasts so beloved of boring dotcom billionaires—give me a nice. reasonable Haflinger any day. Go boxer twin or go home, I say.
posted by sonascope at 1:00 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Brabus Unimog U500 Black Edition is my favorite of the completely ridiculous unimog varieties.

Of course it's only about $350,000 and is basically the closest thing to a street legal tank you can possibly buy.
posted by vuron at 1:03 PM on December 18, 2013

... and you can even get a version that converts on the spot so it runs on railways.

I'm not really into cars and all that but I LOVE THESE.
posted by dowcrag at 1:08 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm sure it has a nice personality.
posted by tommasz at 1:50 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Years back one of my brothers was in the RAAF (Australian Air Force), and the information he relayed was that apparently GM or whoever it was who manufactured the military Humvee back then (the mid-90s) was hitting up the Department of Defense to buy a bunch of Humvees, and the DoD was all "lol no we got these Unimogs already kthxbye".
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:03 PM on December 18, 2013

I know an extremely rich guy that has a huge, tricked out Unimog that has all the amenities. He is always having it shipped to far-flung places around the world like Iceland, Moracco, Nepal, Norway, etc. and then he drives it around and does rich guy things for weeks on end. It's always hard to schedule appointments with him.
posted by chillmost at 3:35 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

How much do these cost? I mean, used, I guess, but in good condition?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:37 PM on December 18, 2013

  give me a nice. reasonable Haflinger any day

Yes, they're lovely. Not fast, but can get out of anywhere. Light enough for four people to lift, too.

The Haflinger running gear (less the portal axles) was improbably used on the first-gen Fiat Panda Sisley 4×4s. The Panda, a car of unbearable crapness, bore no resemblance to its remarkably capable offroad namesake.

Funny story about the Panda 4×4. I remember doing some boggy field work on a West Yorkshire hillside. I'd hiked in, knowing that my VW Polo saloon wouldn't make it up from the nearest village. My site crew was there, in their heavily customized beat-up Range Rover. This thing could get anywhere. But on that day, it got stuck up to the axles, as it was just too heavy.

We stood about wondering what to do, when we hear a faint "putt putt" coming from the other side of the hill. The farmer's wife drove up in her Panda 4×4, rolled down the window, and offered the crew a tow out. We took her up on the offer, despite the unlikeliness of it working, as it was getting dark, and we were eerily near Saddleworth Moor. With some pushing by the crew and the Panda's sewing-machine engine straining, the Range Rover unstuck from the bog and got back on hard standing. With hardly time for thanks, the farmer's wife scooted off down the hill in her tin box. Had she not arrived, the Range Rover would be rusting there still.
posted by scruss at 4:23 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Marky, I also drove a Unimog 404 fifteen years ago (although mine was ex-Bundeswehr), along with some of my friends. It was a delight to work on -- Mercedes had done a beautiful job of ensuring that almost all maintenance was easily done with a minimum of specialized tools. The cab-over design meant it was quite easy to tune to carb while driving, although it also made it a little warm and noisy. 40 liters/100 km unfortunately is not very sustainable and since moving to the city I haven't owned a motorized vehicle for a while...
posted by autopilot at 5:43 PM on December 18, 2013

The Aussies have their own Pinzgauer type vehicle - the OKA. Sadly no longer being built, but much loved in Western Australia.

Me? if I couldn't have a Mog I might a have souped up Volvo C303 like this one (in action).

PS - if you want your fix of Unimog and other heavy 4x4 and 6x6 pr0n, have a look on youtube for the Rally Breslau-Poland
posted by MuffinMan at 1:11 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Anyone down for going in on a Costco-style bulk purchase? ;-)
posted by richyoung at 10:12 AM on December 19, 2013

« Older Hope your holiday is [sunglasses] out of this...   |   "Are you ready to find love in Alderaan places?" Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments