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70 years ago, the very first prototype of what was to become the Unimog was presented. Then as now: a remarkable all-rounder.

Universal-Motor-Gerät: 70 years of the Unimog.

70 years ago, the very first prototype of what was to become the Unimog was presented. Then as now: a remarkable all-rounder.
  • Universal-Motor-Gerät: 70 years of the Unimog.

  • Not a typical tractor.

    The Universal-Motor-Gerät, more commonly known by its German acronym of Unimog, is quite simply an automotive legend. The Unimog was the brainchild of Albert Friedrich, the former head of aircraft engine design at the then Daimler-Benz AG, who had already been working on the idea of a motorised agricultural working machine during the Second World War. Conceived as an agricultural vehicle, it was intended to differ greatly from traditional tractors.

    First Unimog prototype, 9. October 1946.
    The Unimog was the brainchild of Albert Friedrich, the former head of aircraft engine design at the then Daimler-Benz AG.

    The decisive year of 1945.

    After the war ended in 1945, Friedrich immediately set to work on its development: that same year, he presented an initial draft sketch of the prototype to the company’s board of management, but they showed little interest in the project at first. The engineer did not let this deter him. His former colleague Heinrich Rößler, who had in the meantime moved to the metalworking company Erhard & Söhne in the town of Schwäbisch Gmünd, joined the Unimog project as partner.

    The decisive year of 1945.

    After the war ended in 1945, Friedrich immediately set to work on its development: that same year, he presented an initial draft sketch of the prototype to the company’s board of management, but they showed little interest in the project at first. The engineer did not let this deter him. His former colleague Heinrich Rößler, who had in the meantime moved to the metalworking company Erhard & Söhne in the town of Schwäbisch Gmünd, joined the Unimog project as partner.

    The Unimog was the brainchild of Albert Friedrich, the former head of aircraft engine design at the then Daimler-Benz AG.

    70 years ago: The prototype.

    The Unimog Prototype 1 was built in 1946. Even back then, its versatility was a defining characteristic: the plain looking vehicle stood out for its all-wheel drive and four equal-sized wheels. At that time, the Unimog with its output of 25 hp was designed for use as a tractor, agricultural machine, stationary drive unit and delivery vehicle for the farming industry. In the post-war years, no-one could yet conceive of the wide variety of applications it would later be used for.

    Commercial:
    Mercedes-Benz Unimog trade fair.

    A simple and unique concept.

    The new vehicle included a host of features that made it an excellent all-rounder, even back then. It was a world apart from traditional tractors at that time: the relatively high speed of 50 km/h, coil-sprung axles with damping, all-wheel drive with differential locks at the front and rear, as well as the numerous implement attachment options, plus the facility for operating a power take-off shaft at the front, in the centre and at the rear made the Unimog a very special vehicle. All in all, it was a simple, yet unique concept that clearly distinguished the Unimog from conventional tractors, even then.

    A simple and unique concept.

    The new vehicle included a host of features that made it an excellent all-rounder, even back then. It was a world apart from traditional tractors at that time: the relatively high speed of 50 km/h, coil-sprung axles with damping, all-wheel drive with differential locks at the front and rear, as well as the numerous implement attachment options, plus the facility for operating a power take-off shaft at the front, in the centre and at the rear made the Unimog a very special vehicle. All in all, it was a simple, yet unique concept that clearly distinguished the Unimog from conventional tractors, even then.

    Mercedes-Benz Unimog trade fair.

    The return to Daimler-Benz.

    Production started in 1948. But just a few years later, the vehicle was so popular that the manufacturer was no longer able to produce enough units to keep up with the high demand. Considering the professional background of the development team, the next twist in the Unimog story was always on the cards: in the autumn of 1950, the Unimog returned to Daimler-Benz. The entire Unimog project – including the patents, the developers and the newly created sales department – was moved to Gaggenau into what was the truck plant at that time.

    Unimog U25, series 401
    Unimog U25, series 2010

    A 70-year-long success story.

    From its origins right up to the present day, this masterful automotive all-rounder has always stood out for its ability to adapt perfectly to the requirements of its customers. So far, 30 model series have been brought out and sales have nearly reached the 400,000 mark. No other vehicle in the world is capable of operating as a tractor, traction engine, truck, fire-fighting vehicle, exploration vehicle, bus and utility vehicle.

    A 70-year-long success story.

    From its origins right up to the present day, this masterful automotive all-rounder has always stood out for its ability to adapt perfectly to the requirements of its customers. So far, 30 model series have been brought out and sales have nearly reached the 400,000 mark. No other vehicle in the world is capable of operating as a tractor, traction engine, truck, fire-fighting vehicle, exploration vehicle, bus and utility vehicle.

    Unimog U25, series 2010

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