The Legendary Unimog Turns 70

After WWII, Germany was on its knees. In an effort to kickstart the country’s agriculture, farmers needed an update from their old and slow tractors (the few that survived the war, anyway…). While thinking of a possible solution, an engineer from Daimler came up with a list of specifications. That engineer, Albert Friedrich, enlisted the help of another German, Heinrich Rößler, to transform his dream into a real machine.

One year later—on October 9, 1946—a very strange contraption came out of Rößler’s workshop. It consisted of a heavy chassis, an exposed engine (building a body was much lower on the priority list!) and four-wheel drive. Said drivetrain featured front and rear locking rear differentials. Among other things on Friedrich’s specifications list, the vehicle had to be capable of hitting 50 km/h. It also had to come with a power take-off so it could power various appliances. To test their prototype, the duo loaded it with fallen trees and made it cross a difficult wooded trail.

The little vehicle was eventually named Universal-Motor-Gerät, which was shortened to Unimog. After a few updates—like an enclosed cockpit—the vehicle was bought by Daimler-Benz in 1951.

In the last 70 years, the Unimog was refined and made stronger, becoming an invaluable tool for more than a few countries. The big off-roader has been sold in more than 30 different configurations, and According to Daimler, no less than 400,000 Unimogs were built since the forties.

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