Expanded range

Feb 18, 2009
  • 1951: Large-scale production start-up in Gaggenau in June
  • 1953: Premiere of the Unimog with enclosed cab
  • 1955: Unimog S (404 series) - military jack-of-all-trades
  • 1956: Unimog 411 series
  • 1957: New, enclosed driver's cab
Around the turn of the years 1950/51, the Unimog team and the production equipment moved from Göppingen to Gaggenau where production of the Unimog began on
3 June - still with the ox head trademark and without the Mercedes star. The compact, just three-and-a-half metre long vehicle still made ends meet with 25 hp. Other features also remain unchanged, for instance the plain and practical driver's cab with folding top, the all-wheel drive and the chassis with its four equal-sized wheels. Its simple as well as ingenious design had already proved its astounding performance capabilities.
Rational manufacture, awards and prizes
In production and sales, by contrast, the Unimog moved ahead at a quicker pace. The sales outlets taken over from Boehringer were integrated step by step in the sales organisation of Daimler-Benz for whom tractors were, however, a new field of activity at the time. More rational production in the automotive factory reduced the costs and this, in turn, promoted sales. However, the Mercedes star was not allowed to appear on the radiator grille of the Unimog before 1953 and the ox head was not replaced by the Mercedes badge until 1956. Awards, prizes (for instance from the German Agricultural Association) and approvals for specific applications helped to establish the Unimog in the market.
Open-top cab joined by enclosed cab
It was soon realised that the initial model did not meet all requirements. The Unimog was consequently further developed and the 401/402 series was launched in 1953. Customers were now able to choose between the box-shaped cab with soft-top and a new all-enclosed cab version. The latter was produced by Westfalia, a company that was to become well known as a manufacturer of mobile homes at a later stage.
Unimog S develops into the armed forces' favourite vehicle
From then on, innovation and range expansion progressed rapidly. In 1955, Daimler-Benz produced the first Unimog S (404 series). It featured a long wheelbase and was designed for military applications - against the background of the foundation of the German armed forces in 1956. During the long career of the Unimog S, which continued to be produced for a quarter of a century until 1980, the German armed forces became the major buyer of this version, which consequently established itself as the bestseller among the Unimogs. With its outstanding offroad mobility, the Unimog A was also highly appreciated by armed forces anywhere else in the world - the first batch of Unimog S units was supplied to the French army.
The Unimog S featured the oval radiator grille with rimmed circular headlights that were typical for commercial vehicles from Daimler-Benz at that time. Cab design was timeless and attractive. Compared to the first Unimog, wheelbase grew by about a metre, first to 2700 and then to 2900 millimetres. The Unimog S was powered not by a diesel engine but by a modified petrol engine from the car range. The six-cylinder M 180 from the 220a passenger car model initially developed 82 hp from a 2.2 litre displacement; a 110-hp M 130 version with a 2.8-litre displacement was added at a later stage. In the course of the years, the Unimog S not only attracted customers in uniform but also enjoyed growing popularity among civilian users.
Rising engine output, additional versions
The basic 401/402 Unimog did not remain unchanged, either. Its engine output was raised from 25 to 30 hp in 1956; its designation was changed to Unimog 411. Customers were also able to specify a second, longer wheelbase. One year later, the Unimog was available with a synchronised gearbox as an alternative to the constant-mesh transmission used until then. In 1959, synchronisation finally became part of the standard specifications - another premiere for agricultural tractors.
The Unimog's external appearance also changed. A new cab was introduced for enclosed long-wheelbase versions in 1957. With all these innovations and new models, the Unimog became a big success: the 50,000th unit came off the assembly line in Gaggenau in May 1961.
The concept of the Unimog proved to equal the vehicle's physical offroad performance: it was moving ahead unstoppably. Engine output rose, step by step, to 32/34 hp. This version remained the platform of the Unimog range until the seventies. The range itself expanded broadly from the sixties onwards.