The Mercedes Unimog and MBTrac

There are many automotive legends, most of which have been covered in dust by history, but not the Mercedes Unimog. Introduced in the hard times of the post-war era, the unbreakable Unimog has since become one of the legends of automotive construction. It has stood the test of time in the most difficult and diverse missions and conditions to meet the demands of an ever more demanding clientele. It is therefore extremely adaptable, at ease in the most difficult terrain, capable of pulling freight trains and can also be operated on road and rail! Its outstanding features, including numerous couplings, allow it to meet a variety of specific needs and to be equipped with an unlimited range of tools.

The Unimog has long since proven itself to be an efficient multitasker all over the world. The basic concept is great flexibility for virtually infinite tasks, outstanding off-road capabilities thanks to four-wheel drive, front and rear differential locks, a compact cab, legendary ruggedness and the ability to provide it with specific transmissions and gearboxes that allow it to be used for tasks that no other machine can perform. Thanks to these features and its remarkable longevity and durability, the Unimog has become a true legend.

The very first versions of the Unimog were released in 1945

Albert Friedrich, who had previously been head of aero-engine design at Daimler-Benz, drew the first sketches of a vehicle for agriculture in the fall of 1945. Friedrich assembled a team of engineers and joined Erhard & Sons in Goppingen as development partners. Production started in 1948 in the Boehringer mechanical plant in Schwabisch Gmund. Major investments were made to start serial production. In 1951, the Gaggenau plant was acquired by Daimler-Benz in the fall of 1950.

From 1953 onwards, the Unimog was adorned with the Mercedes star, and in the same year, the earlier version with a soft top was converted into a fully equipped cab. A few years later, the Unimog S began its impressive career. It quickly became extremely popular with the armed forces, but later also with civilians, especially those traveling as well as participants in expeditions. It was manufactured until 1980, and was the best-selling Unimog in history.

New models of the Unimog are designed to meet market demands

As customer demands became more and more varied, Daimler-Benz expanded the Unimog range with the 406 series in 1963. In 1972, Daimler-Benz took up the concept of the first agricultural vehicle, the MB-trac tractor. Two years later, the first models of the 425 heavy-duty Unimog series, designed for demanding applications, rolled off the production line.

From 1985 to the present, Daimler-Benz has replaced the entire Unimog range in several stages. The most luxurious Unimog U 2450L 6×6, a three-axle vehicle with an impressive engine power of 177 (177 kW) (240 hp) was introduced. Since 1992, the firm has introduced new medium and light-duty 408 and 419 models, particularly suited to the requirements of communities. In the years that followed, the Funmog, an elegantly equipped version that looks good off the slopes, gained notoriety. The UX 100, a compact minivan, was launched in 1996.

A complete range of Unimog

1963: Unimog 406, the beginning of the mid-range series.
1966: New range
1972: MB-trac, an innovative approach to agricultural tractors
1974: The U 120 introduces the heavy series
1976: Expansion of the range and new designations
1988: The start of the new 407-437 series
1992: New 408/418 series
1993: Funmog
1996: UX 100, the small 409 Unimog for municipal administrations
2000: U 300 – U 500
2002 : U 437.4
2013 : U 405
2013: U 437.427

In the early 1960s, the Unimog’s tiny base was no longer sufficient to meet the growing demands and could no longer cope with an increasingly wide range of tasks. The Unimog S, being mainly used for military purposes, was not always suitable for civilian use, even if it was available in finishes other than …. olive green. That’s why Daimler-Benz introduced a mid-range line in 1963, with the code 406. The wheelbase of this brand new Unimog measures 2380 millimeters.

Unlocking new dimensions The 406 series

uniog 406 brandwagenIn addition, more powerful diesel engines were put under the hood for the first time, including a 65 hp four-cylinder and a 5.7-liter OM 312 six-cylinder diesel engine. In terms of power, the latest Unimog is referred to as the U 65. The 406 series completes the lineup with a “jack-of-all-trades” that can be used on the track and on the road and can be used as a multipurpose tractor.

The 406 series was expanded with the addition of new models

In 1966, Unimog restructured its entire product line. The small U 34 was joined in the middle of the range by the 406 series as well as the U 70. Later, the U 80 and then the U 84 appeared, with their ever-increasing power. At the same time, Daimler-Benz introduced the 416 series, with a total wheelbase of 2900 mm, which corresponds to the Unimog S. The series, which initially consisted of the U 80, developed over the years into the U 90, U 100 and finally the U 110.

U 421

The lightweight 421/403 series was followed by the 413 series to complete the range of high-end and mid-range Unimogs. The new series differ in terms of wheelbase and engine, which are taken from Mercedes engines (series 421 U 40 / series 421 with a displacement of 2.2 liters) and (series 403 and U 54 with a displacement of 3.8 liters). The performance of these new models will continue to increase until the renewal of the range in 1977.

The Unimog range is completed by the MB-trac tractor

mbtracThe rapid growth of the Unimog range (which can be difficult for the average person to grasp) led to the celebration of its anniversary in May 1966, when 100,000 units were built. In its nearly 20 years of existence, the Unimog has earned a reputation as a legendary off-road vehicle in the world. Although it was originally designed for use in agriculture, it has actually had limited use in that sector, with the exception of the forestry industry. To address this market, Daimler-Benz introduced an additional machine in 1972, the MB-trac, an entirely new type of tractor for agriculture.

This new tractor for agriculture combines Unimog technology and four-wheel drive (which is standard today but was not so popular in 1970) with a four-wheel drive of the same size. It is very different from the tractors of the past. An elongated, narrow hood tops a sloping cab with an elevated driving position. Unlike conventional tractor cabs, the cab is located behind the axles and is completely enclosed. This considerably improves the working environment.

The following years saw the introduction of the MB-trac 65 as well as the MB-trac 70 (then 700), with a range of models from the basic MB-trac 70 to the extremely powerful MB-trac 1500. Despite its commendable quality, the MB-trac was an economic failure. The MB-trac brand was eventually integrated into an alliance with Deutz agricultural machinery, and production was discontinued in 1991.

A brand new Unimog The 425 series

The Unimog series was introduced in 1974, one year after the MB-trac. Large-scale production started in 1975. The U 120 of the 425 series was the top-of-the-line heavy-duty model. Its distinguishing feature, which is obvious at first glance, is an all-new angular cab, extended by a pivoting hood and ending with an imposing black grille. The cab will remain unchanged for the next 25 years.

The first 425 series was a 120 horsepower model (later 125 horsepower as part of the U 125) with a wheelbase of 2810 mm and a maximum weight of nine tons. In 1975, the development of the 435 series was a success. replacing the Unimog S for use by the German military forces. These vehicles have a wheelbase of 3250 or 3700 mm. Since 1976, the 424 series is added to the range.

New model designations are added to ensure uniformity of the ….. model.

Daimler-Benz introduces new designations for the Unimog that have rounded shapes, (waiting for the new cabs). They are designated as: U 600L, U 800L, U 900 and U 1100L. The new shape is the distinguishing feature of the Unimog U 1000, U 1300L, U 1500 and the U 1700L which dominates the range with its 124 milliwatts (168 horsepower). The “L” stands for the longer wheelbase version (most models are available in two wheelbase lengths).

The Unimog with curved cabs is part of the light range. The latest models with “angled” cabs are in the heavy and medium-weight ranges, the division being determined by the maximum gross weight rating. There is a wide variety of engines available for the different models, but the Unimog designation system is not always clear. The range still consists of the Unimog S, the only one with a petrol engine.

The technical specifications are easier to understand, except for the lower-end models, and all Mercedes-Benz Unimogs are equipped with disc brakes before this feature was added to the Mercedes truck line. The effort of the Unimog company to offer each customer a model adapted to his needs, results in a record number in 1977 when the Unimog celebrates its 200.000th vehicle built.

1985: complete renewal of the 407, 417 and 427 ranges

unimog 407-437Between 1985 and 1988, while new models were being produced, Daimler-Benz replaced the entire range with the 407, 417 and 437. The “angular” cab is now available in lighter models, with new wheelbase lengths and new weights and dimensions. The chassis and engines underneath these new bodies are completely new.

After this update, the range was expanded more than ever, starting with the light and easy-to-maneuver U 600 with 44 kW (60 hp) and a weight of 4.5 tons, to the many models available. The result of this development in the late 1990s was the U2400 6X6, which set a new power record with 177 horsepower (240 hp) from a 6-liter displacement. The double rear axle version has a maximum weight of 14 tons.

Almost ten times the power in only 40 years of development!

Since 1993, the Unimog range has expanded to include the Unimog U 2450 L 6 x 6, a three-axle, four-wheel machine. The company that created the original Unimog forty years ago would probably not have dreamed of the models that are available today. The comparison between the engine power of the original Unimog and that of the current model is worth a look, as it has been multiplied by almost ten. ….

New Unimog models for new customers

Daimler-Benz launched an innovation program in 1992. The new 408 (U 90) and 418 (U 110, U 140, U 110) light and medium-duty vehicle ranges replace their relatively recent predecessors. The most striking features are the completely redesigned cabs with a sloping hood offering drivers excellent visibility to the front of the car. On request, the hood can be asymmetrical on the driver’s side, allowing better visibility of accessories and connections.

The ladder-type chassis is retained with tubular cross members that are welded to the side rails. This design offers extreme torsional strength and is extremely robust. Combined with coil spring suspensions, it provides exceptional off-road traction.

More space, more light and more comfort

The completely redesigned cab, with its raised roof, offers a more comfortable and spacious space than before and, above all, a pleasant working area. The new Unimog includes a road-monitored tire air pressure system as well as the ABS braking system, the latest engines from the U 90 light vehicle range and the Servolock, which is a hydraulic control unit that locks the working instruments. The new generation not only expresses its practicality, but with its wide range of applications, it is also highly recommended by many of our customers.

The Funmog is a Unimog dressed in a gala dress

A disco-mobile Unimog in Japan equipped with the latest technology was a huge hit with young people. Daimler-Benz was quick to respond by launching Funmogs that were a black version of the heavy range and metallic red of the medium range. Both models were decorated with chrome. The Funmogs were awarded “Offroader of the Year” in the spring of 1994. Gaggenau’s immortality is also evident in the production figures: in the same year, production exceeded the 300,000 unit mark. A remarkable figure for a vehicle designed specifically for special purposes.

The tiny UX 100 for municipal authorities

In 1996, Daimler-Benz expanded the range with the introduction of a small vehicle specifically for municipal authorities: the UX100. This compact Unimog is a small, easily maneuverable vehicle that is suitable for use in parks and on sidewalks. However, the younger Unimog’s big brother has not been as popular as expected. As part of a core business redesign, Daimler-Benz changed the name of the UX100 to Hako, a company that specializes in vehicles of this type and size. However, engineers will incorporate some of the ideas from the UX100 project to create future Unimogs.

The Unimogs that load tools : U 300, U 400 and U 500

The year 2000 saw Mercedes introduce a new line with a stunning appearance: the Unimog models. The U 300, U 400 and, a little later, the U 500 replace the old 408/418 models of the heavy and medium-heavy series. With these models, the Unimog received more improvements in one go than in its entire existence. One of the most impressive features is the extremely sophisticated, practical and at the same time attractive cab, which is made of composite fibres. The massive windshield extends downward, providing an unobstructed view of all the tools and connections that can be easily connected by a single operator. The hood is extremely small because the engine has been moved to the rear of the vehicle, in an area between the axles. It can be said that the Unimog is based on the idea of its designer, Albert Friedrich, who had imagined an engine with a similar position in his first drawings in 1946.

2002 : U437.4

The Unimog 437 is a medium-duty truck model from the Mercedes-Benz Unimog series.

The first generation, the 437.1, was built between 1988 and 2003. It was replaced by the 425 and 435 models, which have the same basic structure as the Unimog 437.1. With 28 separate models, the 437.1 series is the most complete Unimog series. There were 10,718 vehicles produced. It was the first time that there was a standard three-axle model1.

The 237.4, which is the current generation 437.4, also known as the 437.4, was first presented in August 2002 and produced by Daimler AG at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Worth. The car was unveiled at the IAA 2002 in Hannover2. It was part of the Unimog series; the 437.4 belonged to the former class of heavy off-road vehicles. The sharp-edged driver’s cab design from 1974 is still present on the Unimog 437.4 to this day. In 2013, the 437.4 series underwent a complete overhaul. In the first 10 years of production, 6,497 vehicles were built in 12 models. The Dingo 2 is also built on the Unimog 437.4 chassis. The model designation of the Unimog 437.4 is no longer based on the engine output in DIN-PS like the Unimog 405 numbers (U 3000, U 4000, U 5000).

2013 : U 405

The Unimog 405 is a vehicle that belongs to the Mercedes-Benz Unimog range, marketed as a Unimog tool carrier. Daimler AG has been building it as the successor to the Unimog 408 since 2000, initially at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Gaggenau before production was transferred to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Worth in 2002.

The sales terms U20, U290, U300 U400, U20 and U500 did not include any specific engine information.

In 2013, the model was redesigned, but was still marketed under the “series” designation. Currently, the Unimog 405 is offered under the sales designations U216 U218, U318, and U323 U423, U427, U430, U527 and U530 and U530, which includes 6 models equipped with the Lang long wheelbase upgrade.

VarioPilot is the process of moving the driver from one seat to another

The all-new cab is not only larger; it also adopts an idea that was previously developed on the UX100 driver’s station with a steering wheel and gauges, as well as pedals that can be switched from left to right in a short time. Also known as VarioPilot, this feature is extremely convenient for a variety of applications. A wide range of wheelbases from 3080 to 3900 millimeters and the permissible total weight range of 7.5 to 15.5 tons underline the versatility of the Unimog. For applications requiring specialization, the Mercedes-Benz Unimog can be equipped with special features such as torque converter, clutch unit or cable remote control.

The new design of the Unimog and its features underline the fact that it was created to replace the 408/418 series. It is still a near-perfect off-roader, but the emphasis is on the use of a wide variety of implements and on versatility. In addition to its four-wheel drive, the Unimog is characterized by its Telligent electropneumatic transmission, its high-performance Variopower hydraulic system and its new, extremely powerful engines with outputs ranging from 110 kW (150 hp) to 205 4 kW (280 hp), which comply with the Euro 3 CO2 emission standard.

Production of the Unimog ceased at Gaggenau in 2002

By the time production of the Unimog Merdes-Bez was discontinued in 2002, Gaggenau had already developed more than 27 models that sold more than 320,000 units. With 64,242 units of the gasoline-powered 404.1 series, the Unimog S was the most popular model, with the German military alone purchasing about 36,000 units.

The transfer from Gaggenau to the Merceds Benz truck assembly plant in Worth along the Rhine River is the fifth chapter in the Unimog’s history. For this, 6,000 tons of stock and 2,600 pieces of equipment – more than 34,000 items – had to be transported across the 48 kilometers of the Rhine to Worth in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. A total of 480 trucks were needed to transport the disused Gaggenau plant to Worth. The group’s largest truck plant was able to meet all the logistical requirements to ensure optimal vehicle production. Production started on August 26, 2002. The joint use of paint plants, logistics areas as well as training departments and marine equipment and personnel facilities has led to an impressive increase in revenue.

Unique features combined with high quality standards have helped make the Unimog so popular. Two years after the introduction of the new tool carrier, the next generation of extreme off-road Unimog (437.4 series) for the energy, fire service and transportation industry was introduced with the U3000-U5000 models. The all-new extreme off-road Unimog features a completely new transmission, but retains the face of the Unimog series (SBU) that was introduced in 1975 with the 425 series (U 1300, U 1500, U 1500 T).

The first model line developed in Worth was the U 20 (2007-2013), a compact municipal tool car that rounded out the bottom of the line. It was later replaced by the U 216 / U 218 models.

Unimog BlueTec 6

In 2013, in conjunction with the introduction of the Euro VI emissions standard, the newest Unimog Blue Tec 6 tool carriers were introduced. They carry the model designations U 216, U 218, U 318, U 423, U 427, U 430, U 527 and U 530.

The latest version of the ultra off-road Unimog BlueTec 6 carries the numbers U 4023 and U 5023. These are the latest BlueEfficiency engines in the OM 934, OM 934 LA and OM 936 LA series. These six- and four-cylinder engines with outputs of 115-220 kW (156 hp) and 220 kW (299 hp) combine low fuel consumption with efficient emission control in accordance with the Euro VI standard.