There are no barriers for the UNIMOG
If you want to buy a vehicle to do extreme offroading, you should consider purchasing a UNIMOG. The Mercedes Benz legendary 4×4 truck in any of its versions is an excellent choice to go through the most difficult terrains without a hassle.
A little history
The UNIMOG was first introduced as a multi-purpose agricultural vehicle. Some people see it as an all-wheel-drive tractor while others see it as a tough and bigger version of a Jeep Willys. The fact is that UNIMOGs are much more than that; many people regard them as “Swiss army knife” utility vehicles, and others think of them as strong off-road vehicles capable of climbing the most difficult hills and sorting the most difficult obstacles.
Mercedes Benz conceived the UNIMOG as an agricultural vehicle, the name stands for UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät (universal motor device). The first UNIMOG was unveiled in August 1948 at the LG-Schau in Frankfurt. These units were powered by a 1.7 liter 4 cylinder engine or by the Daimler-Benz OM636. The power of the UNIMOG was a little lower than 30HP, which seems low for today’s standards, but the vehicle had an outstanding performance compared with other vehicles of its era. Between 1950 and 1951 400 units of the U25 model were bought by the French army, and in 1951 the vehicle was awarded a silver medal by the Deutsche Landwirtschafts – Gesellschaft DLG (German Agricultural Society).
The vehicle proved to be so efficient that it attracted the attention of private buyers and governments as well. In 1968 Mercedes-Benz started producing the all-terrain vehicle in Argentina as part of the German automaker’s plan to reach new markets. The vehicle was used globally by many armies of different countries all over the world. Mercedes Benz keeps producing the UNIMOG as an ultimate vehicle and tool. The U 4023/U 5023 models are technologically advanced for their era, just as the first units manufactured in the early 1950s, and their multi-purpose vehicle spirit remains the same.
UNIMOG – High performance and fun all at once
There are many models and versions of the UNIMOG. One of the most wanted models is the 411. Built between 1956 and 1974, with only 39,000 units made, the 411 is considered a classic vehicle. One of the most wanted models of the 401/411 is the “frog’s eyes”, a name that the fans of the model used fondly to call the small UTV because of their round, protruding headlights.
The 411 was designed over the base of the first UNIMOG, the 401, and was powered by Diesel 4-cylinder engines with an average power output of 30HP. Despite having low power for today’s standards, the 411 has an incredible capacity. Driving a 411 is like driving a blender machine, it’s not comfortable at all, and perhaps that is what makes driving it so fun. The wheels of the 411s are massive, and its three differentials give it incredible climbing skills and allow it to go through the most difficult paths. The small 411 weighs 2.2 Tons, and it can load up to 3.5 Tons. Its ground clearance of 38cm and its efficient suspension give it a 45° approach angle, about the same as a modern Jeep Rubicon. Amazing, right?
Another contemporary version of the 411 is the U404 or UNIMOG-S. It’s a little bigger than the 411, but it is also powered by a bigger engine, a 6-cylinder 2.2-liter petrol engine with 82HP. In 1971, a new engine was introduced: a petrol 2.8-liter engine capable of producing 110HP. Finally, the UNIMOG could reach a top speed of over 100 km/h. The 404 has a ground clearance of 40cm, 2cm taller than the 411. This improves the approach angle even more. UNIMOGs are not fast vehicles, but Mercedez Benz wasn’t looking for speed, it was looking to design vehicles that can endure extremely challenging conditions.
The 404 were also used by armies all over the world, even in the Antarctica. The 404s have front and rear locking differentials, 6 forward, and 2 reverse gears. These days they are military machines available to the general public. The front of the 404s resembles the Mercedes Benz trucks of that era. UNIMOGs are so tough that many teams used them to compete in the famous Paris-Dakar rally, now called the Dakar rally. Still today some 404s are used as support vehicles by private teams participating in the demanding rally. About 62,000 units of the 404 were made, the biggest production of a UNIMOG’s generation ever made. It’s still a low production number, considering that many commercial vehicles reach those numbers in only one year.
All the UNIMOGs are made to last. Their conception as agricultural vehicles and their latter use as military vehicles makes them very reliable. Most units have up to four ports to attach tools like a plow machine, or a snowplow. Some lucky UNIMOG users tell fun stories like having bought the vehicle from the local precinct which used the vehicle for doing different tasks. Some uses people gave to the UNIMOG seem really crazy.
Owing a classic UNIMOG is a life experience. It’s a dream come true for many fanatics of the model, and a great option to consider if you are just discovering the model. Buying a vintage UNIMOG can be also a good investment; they are getting more and more difficult to find, they will preserve their purchase value, and they will surely become more expensive with the passing of time. Something certain is that you will have lots of fun taking your UNIMOG over the most difficult paths on earth and that the small yet solid vehicle will draw people’s attention as if you were driving an ultimate sports car.