Press Kit: Unimog History
Feb 18, 2009
The Unimog: A lively legend
  • 1945: The idea of the former head of Aeroengine Design
  • From 1951: Production at Daimler-Benz in Gaggenau
  • From 1974: Addition of heavy-duty Unimog versions
  • From 1992: 408/418 series for municipal work
  • From 2000: Spectacular new U 300 – U 500 models
There are quite a number of automotive legends – most of them already covered by the dust of history. Not so the Mercedes-Benz Unimog. Launched during the hard times immediately after the end of World War II, the indestructible Unimog has long since become one of the living legends in automotive engineering. The Unimog holds its ground in the face of assignments under the most arduous conditions, changing economic settings and changing customer groups. Small wonder: the Unimog copes with extremely difficult ground, pulls complete goods trains, can be used as a road/railer and features attachment points for a large variety of implements.
Hard-working jack-of-all-trades right from the start
The Unimog has proved itself as a hard-working jack-of-all-trades anywhere in the world for many decades. What has remained is its basic design concept: enormous versatility for assignments of virtually all kinds, superior off-road mobility thanks to its all-wheel drive, portal gear axles and differential locks front and rear, a compact cab, outstanding robustness and the possibility of attaching a multitude of working implements.
First drafts as early as 1945
The first drafts of an agricultural vehicle, made by Albert Friedrich who had previously been Head of Aeroengine Design at Daimler-Benz, date back to the autumn of 1945. Friedrich assembled a committed team of development engineers and won over Messrs. Erhard & Sons in Göppingen, Germany, as development partners. Large-scale production began in 1948 at the mechanical engineering factory of Messrs. Boehringer in Schwäbisch Gmünd. Since high investments had to be made to reach economically viable production volumes, the project was taken over by Daimler-Benz in the autumn of 1950 – production in the Gaggenau plant started in 1951.
From 1953, the Unimog was decorated with the Mercedes star; in the same year, a fully enclosed cab complemented the previous version with folding top. Two years later, the Unimog S set out on its impressive career: it was soon highly popular among armed forces and, later on, also among civilian users, particularly among globetrotters and members of expedition. Produced until 1980, it became the bestseller in Unimog history.
Additional series to meet rising demands
As requirements became more demanding and diversified, Daimler-Benz expanded the Unimog range by the larger 406 series from 1963. In 1972, Daimler-Benz resumed the original idea of an agricultural vehicle – and for many years, the Unimog was joined by the MB-trac agricultural tractor. Only two years later, the first units from the 425 series – heavy-duty Unimogs for particularly demanding tractor work – came off the assembly lines.
From 1985, Daimler-Benz replaced the entire Unimog range in several steps. A few years later, the top-of-the-range Unimog U 2450 L 6x6 was launched, a three-axle vehicle with an impressive engine output of 177 kW (240 hp). From 1992, the company offered the new lightweight and medium-duty 408 and 419 series, which were particularly suitable for municipal work. Shortly afterwards, the Funmog – a conspicuously designed and elegantly equipped Unimog, which also cut a fine figure outside the disco in the evening – assumed the status of a cult vehicle. The small UX 100, a compact implement carrier, predominantly appealed to municipal authorities from 1996.
Into the future with the new U 300 – U 500 series
The new Unimog U 300, U 400 und U 500 available since 2000 are also tailored to municipal work. The vehicles combine spectacular looks with a practical as well as attractively designed cab made of fibre composite materials, a driver's workplace called VarioPilot that can be moved from left to right and back again within seconds, a new VarioPower high-performance hydraulic system and engines with output ratings up to 205 kW (280 hp) – the new Unimog for the new millennium can do even more than any of its predecessors and meets the most diverse demands of a heterogeneous clientele.
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