Mercedes-Benz Unimog Ready for Anything

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read

The Mercedes-Benz Unimog has been made things over the years: a lawnmower, a snow-thrower, an army tow truck, a fire truck, an ambulance, an excavator, and several dozen other things.

But can it be a daily-driven pickup truck in the US?

As our photo suggests, yes it can.

The Unimog itself, despite having worn a three-pointed star for more years than we can count, did not actually start out in life as a Mercedes-Benz or Daimler Truck model of any sort.

In fact, the model was developed by a small automaker called Boehringer Bros., based in Göppingen, Germany, and was shown in Frankfurt in 1948 at a tractor show called Deutschen Landwirtschaftsgesellschaft.

The model was first conceived as a four-wheeled agricultural tractor that could carry a variety of attachments, while also being quick enough to keep up with road traffic of the time when needed. The list of requirements was rather long for engineer Albert Friedrich, and on top of everything it also had to carry some cargo.

The resulting truck took its name from Universal-Motor-Gerät, or universal motorized vehicle, and was first shown to the public in 1947, a year before its big debut in Frankfurt.

Production of the first model, dubbed Unimog 70200 and powered by Daimler’s OM 636 diesel engines paired with six-speed gearboxes, began in Göppingen in 1948, with 600 units leaving the factory during the first year.

a green truck parked on the side of a road


Unimogs of this generation have been importable for some time, if you want to be seen in a unique truck around town.

But given the rush of demand, it quickly became clear that Boehringer Bros. would not be able to keep up with that demand, with Daimler taking over production in 1950, and keeping the diesel OM 636 engine good for 25 hp.

That’s right: Early Unimogs had just 25 hp on tap, but they also had a top speed of only about 31 mph to worry about. As most would be used on farms rather than on zee autobahn, this was adequate.

Of course, the example seen here hails from a later generation produced between 1962 and 1994 and known as the Unimog 406, offering straight-four and straight-six engines, in addition to a choice of three wheelbases. The particular version here was built after the 1966 front fascia update, and features the shortest wheelbase option.

How practical is it in the modern era as a daily-driven truck in a small town?

Well, there won’t be any trucks sitting higher than you, that’s for sure, and snow days won’t slow you down.

But cargo space isn’t lavish and may take some effort to actually get up into the bed.

And if your town spontaneously floods, which is something that happens with curious frequency these days, you’ll have something on par with whatever the National Guard brings in, especially with the optional snorkel installed here.

As such, it gets our vote for being the right truck for our dystopian future and/or present, even if going through the bank ATM or fast food drive-thru might be a bit of a challenge with this kind of ride height.

We just hope Germany has enough of these to export to us when things get really tough.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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