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Unimog S 404 (1955 to 1980). Today this Unimog is the most famous model.
Road-rail vehicle for vegetation control on Unimog chassis

The Unimog (acronym for Universal-Motor-Gerät ) is a vehicle series from Mercedes-Benz that is manufactured by Daimler Trucks , a division of Daimler AG . It was invented by Albert Friedrich . The Unimog is designed as an all-wheel drive implement carrier and small truck with portal axles and is mainly used in agriculture and forestry , in the military and for municipal tasks. Some Unimog models are classic dual-use goods and are also used for other tasks in difficult terrain, e.g. B. used as a drilling vehicle or in disaster relief. The vehicles are classified as “front seat tractor with all-wheel drive”. The vehicles that have been developed since 1945 were first mass-produced in Göppingen by Gebr. Boehringer GmbH from 1949 . After production was taken over by the previous engine supplier Daimler-Benz in 1950, the Unimog was built at the Gaggenau plant from 1951 , before production switched to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth in 2002 . In Argentina, the Unimog was reproduced under license from CKD kits. The Argentine Unimog plant was located in González Catán on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Production originally intended for the Argentine Army began there in 1968.

The name Unimog

The engineer Hans Zabel noted on a drawing the name "Universal-Motor-Gerät", which was drawn together to the acronym "Unimog". The vehicle was officially named on November 20, 1946. Unimog has been a registered word mark of Daimler AG since 1950 .


Boehringer- Unimog 70200 with front attachment and cutter bar . The third mounting space is in the rear of the vehicle, where a power lift is available.
Drive train of a Unimog 411
Chassis of a Unimog 404 . The strong axle articulation and the offset in the middle are clearly visible.

The Unimog, conceived immediately after the Second World War, was originally intended as a purely agricultural vehicle. It was supposed to resemble a two-axle tractor , but with four wheels of the same size, all-wheel drive with differential locks, coil-sprung portal axles, protected drive shafts in thrust tubes, drum brakes on all wheels and a ladder frame. In addition, a centrally arranged, 1.5 m² loading area for a usable weight of 1000 kg, a weather-protected two-seater driver's cab, a towing device at the rear of the vehicle and a pulley and the possibility of attaching attachments in three attachment areas and driving them with a PTO shaft were provided . In order to be able to use the Unimog for root crops , the track width was set at 1270 mm, which corresponds to two rows of potatoes. The engine should deliver 25 HP (18.5 kW), so that the top speed would be 50 km / h. The Unimog came onto the market as such a vehicle in 1949.

The concept of the Unimog was soon rethought, as the area of ​​application expanded from agriculture to more diverse areas. Its potential as a military vehicle was recognized early on, and the Swiss Army acquired the Boehringer Unimog 70200 as early as September 1950 . The Unimog series 404 was developed in the early 1950s as the first Unimog specifically as a military vehicle. But manufacturers of additional equipment and, in particular, agricultural customers also wanted a heavy Unimog series from Daimler-Benz, as the original Unimog, now with an engine output of 34 hp (25 kW), no longer met the requirements. Daimler-Benz therefore developed the then heavy and, from today's perspective, medium-weight series 406 with larger dimensions and a powerful engine, from which an entire model family with light to medium-weight models of different wheelbases and engine outputs was derived, which remained in production until 1994. The 406 series is now considered the best embodiment of the Unimog .

In 1974 Daimler-Benz introduced the heavy Unimog series with a completely new appearance, which should round off the Unimog program at the top. Today the formerly heavy Unimog are referred to as the Unimog highly off -road and have essentially remained unchanged; the characteristic angular cab has been retained to this day. The distinguishing feature of this Unimog is that it can drive on embankments with inclines of up to 44 °, have a fording depth of 800 mm without or 1200 mm with a snorkel and the axle articulation is up to 30 °. With the exception of the now all-terrain series, all other Unimog were replaced in 2000 by the 405 series, which is primarily an implement carrier. Today Daimler only produces the all-terrain model series and the implement carrier.

Construction and technology

The most important design feature is the Unimog's chassis: the Unimog has a ladder-type frame that rests on portal axles that are guided on thrust tubes and wishbones and are spring-loaded with coil springs. This construction allows a very large axle articulation, which makes the Unimog very off-road. The gear train on the wheel hubs allows the rotational frequency of the drive train to be increased, as a result of which less torque is required to transmit the same power, which enables a simpler construction of the drive train. The four wheels are the same size and allow a high ground clearance despite their small diameter due to the impeller countershaft.

An important development was the cranked ladder frame of the Unimog (see picture on the right), which came about by chance: because the French military did not want the spare wheel of the Unimog 404 to take up space on the loading area, the ladder frame in the middle of the vehicle was cranked so that the spare wheel could be used could be mounted under the loading area. The Unimog was originally designed with a level ladder frame, but the cranked ladder frame offers new space for the spare wheel and better torsion properties, making the Unimog even more off-road.

The Unimog is driven by a longitudinally installed diesel engine. A car engine ( type OM 636 ) was originally used, but industrial engines have been installed since the 1960s . The Unimog 404, which has a gasoline engine, is an exception. The transmission is installed in the center of the Unimog and has no reverse gear, instead the Unimog has a reversing gear , the direction of travel is selected with a separate lever. On some Unimog vehicles, a power take-off can also be flanged onto the transmission.

Unimog families, series and models

To make a rough distinction, the Unimog is divided into so-called series (or model families ), which range from the original Unimog with an 18 kW diesel engine to the heavy series with an engine output of up to 240 kW. The division of the rows was never completely uniform and has been changed over time. Within a row there are the series that allow a finer classification. Within a series there are, in turn, various types that differ in design and engine. In many cases, the trade name suggests the type, but is not a reliable distinguishing criterion.


The original series goes back to the designs of Albert Friedrich. The vehicles of the original series are designed as agricultural vehicles and all have a leadframe without cranking and the antechamber -Pkw engine OM 636 with 1.8-liter displacement. The last original Unimog was manufactured in 1974. The Unimog S series introduced in 1955 , in which there is only one series, the Unimog 404 , occupies a special position . Unlike the original Unimog, it is more of a truck than an agricultural vehicle and is also the first Unimog with a cranked frame and the only Unimog to be equipped with a petrol engine as standard. From 1975 it was replaced by the heavy class 435 . The middle row was initially introduced as a heavy row and only later with the introduction of an even larger Unimog to the middle row; it was offered from 1963 to the end of the 1990s; The first medium-sized Unimog was the 406 . The middle Unimog have a lead frame with offset and industrial engine . Derived from the medium-sized Unimog, the light Unimog, which share the same design with the medium-sized Unimog, but have less powerful engines that, like the original Unimog, are passenger car engines. They fall in the same period. The heavy series have been offered since 1974. You have a powerful truck engine and the angular cab, the basic features of which have remained unchanged for over 40 years. The medium and light Unimog series were finally replaced by the new implement carrier series from 2000. In 2017 Daimler only offered the heavy 437.4 series (since 2002) and the 405 implement carrier series (since 2000); Daimler calls the formerly heavy series the all-terrain Unimog .


Unimog 411.119

Initially, the 70200 model was simply offered, for which there were no prototypes yet. After Daimler-Benz AG took over the production of the Unimog, the Unimog 70200 was built almost unchanged as the Unimog 2010. Since the Unimog 2010, there have been different models for each model series, in 2010 the model was distinguished with a slash (for example model 2010/1 ). The model is decisive for the body, cabin and wheelbase. From 1953, with the changeover of the model designation at Daimler-Benz, the Unimog received the 4 as the first digit for the series. Accordingly, the first Unimog series based on this scheme was the 401 series. Since then, the complete model number has consisted of the three-digit series that always begins with the 4, followed by the three-digit model number sequence. However, the prototype principle does not always follow a uniform scheme: while prototype 411.110 is a convertible with a short wheelbase of the  411 series and similarly the prototype 406.120 is a convertible with a short wheelbase of the 406 series, prototype 411.112 is a convertible with a long wheelbase of the 406 series (with the exception of prototypes) there is no model with a long wheelbase; the long-wheelbase models belong to the 416 series. In the heavy-duty 435 series, however, there is no convertible, the convertible belongs to the 436 series.

An exception are the 440, 441 and 443 series , which, contrary to what might be expected, are not a Unimog, but the technically related MB-Trac farm tractors.

Model names

Each model was offered in different model versions, the scheme of the model names was changed several times in the history of the Unimog. Until 1953 the Unimog was simply called the Unimog . From 1953 to around 1975, the models were named based on their engine output in DIN PS, a Unimog U 84 accordingly has an engine output of 84 DIN PS (62 kW).

From 1975 to 2000, the model names were supplemented by another number. As before, the first two digits correspond to the engine output in DIN PS, but now rounded. If necessary, the digits were supplemented by an identification letter, L stands for a long wheelbase. However, the model names do not indicate the series, the U 1300 L model belongs to the 435 series, while the U 1300 (without L) belongs to the 425 series. Vehicles with an L-frame always have the longer wheelbase, but vehicles without the L in the designation can also have the long wheelbase (e.g. the U 1700 of the 435 series).

Later, the designation U xx 50 indicated that the wheelbase was (about) 50 cm longer; but here too there were exceptions, e.g. As the U 1300 L, his successor in the series 437 later UL 1350 said. The successor to the U 1700 of the 435 series was then also called the U 1750 as the Unimog of the 437.1 series.

Since 2000 the model names have followed a new scheme. The number of digits indicates the model family, the first digit indicates the position within the model family. Vehicles of the heavy series are four-digit, three-digit and two-digit are the newer equipment carriers. In the case of the heavy Unimog, a tenth of the engine output in DIN PS is also included in the last two digits of the model name. A Unimog U 4023 is therefore a heavy Unimog with an engine output of 170 kW (which corresponds to approx. 23 1 DIN PS); similarly, a Unimog U 423 is an implement carrier with a 170 kW engine.

Tabular overview of the series

Basically, the Unimog series from Daimler are divided into six model families, whereby the transition between medium and light series is partly fluid:

Unimog timeline, since 1948
Types Boehringer From May 1951 by Daimler-Benz as Mercedes-Benz Unimog
1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th 9 0 1 2 3 4th 5 6th 7th 8th
Agricultural vehicle
70200 2010 401 411
Compact equipment carrier 409 Hako Kommobil
Light series 421 407 408
431 ArgentinaArgentina
Equipment carrier 405
Medium-weight series 403 417 418
426 ArgentinaArgentina 419 as a FreightlinerUnited StatesUnited States
Heavy series & all-terrain trucks 404
424 427
425 437.1 437.4
436 TurkeyTurkey


70200 series

Original Unimog logo
Unimog U 6, the second oldest Unimog still in existence today.

Albert Friedrich is considered to be the inventor of the Unimog concept . The first plans were made in 1945. In November 1945, Friedrich received a production order , permission from the US military administration to develop the vehicle and build ten test vehicles. This confirmed that the vehicle would have no military use. On December 1, 1945, Friedrich signed a contract for the production of the vehicles with the gold and silver goods factory Erhard & Sons from Schwäbisch Gmünd . Initially, two engineers worked on the project. In January 1946, Heinrich Rößler , who had previously worked at Daimler-Benz, joined as the third engineer . (Later Rößler became head of the Unimog department at Daimler-Benz.) He played a key role in the development of the Unimog until it was ready for series production. In addition, Hans Zabel, Head of Unimog Sales and namesake of the Unimog, as well as Christian Dietrich, Head of the Unimog Test Department and Head of Customer Service, were significantly involved in the development of the Unimog.

The first test vehicle with a ZF four-speed gearbox and gasoline engine, with its sloping front section, the cab with convertible top and the loading area behind it, largely corresponded to the later production model at the end of 1946. According to Daimler, the first test drive with prototype 1 was carried out on October 9, 1946. The Unimog was presented to the public for the first time in the spring of 1947. From 1947, Daimler-Benz AG supplied the diesel engine with the OM 636 (split valve cover, BM 636.912) newly developed for the 170 D passenger car . Four prototypes with gasoline engines were built in Schwäbisch Gmünd, while the U 5 (today in the Agricultural Museum in Hohenheim) and U 6 (today in the Unimog Museum in Gaggenau) were already assembled at Boehringer Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH in Göppingen . Boehringer also took over the series production of the vehicles, which started with pre-series in June 1948. The vehicle was shown at the DLG exhibition in August 1948 in Frankfurt a. M. presented to the public at the Mercedes-Benz stand and has already been pre-ordered 150 times there. On November 21, 1948 a patent for the Unimog was registered for the first time under the number 950 430; the main focus was on the portal axes . Series production officially started in February 1949. A total of 600 vehicles from the 70200 series , 100 of which were pre-series, were built in Göppingen by April 1951.

Takeover by Daimler-Benz

The Unimog was largely made by hand; Boehringer did not use an assembly line. From 1949, 90 additional employees worked on the Unimog in addition to the original developers. A sales network and customer service were established. A maximum of around fifty vehicles were produced per month. The demand for the Unimog rose sharply because it was in demand in many areas. It quickly became apparent that Boehringer could no longer meet demand. In October 1950, Boehringer sold the Unimog production to Daimler-Benz. Production in Göppingen ran out by April 1951 before moving to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Gaggenau . Many suppliers and employees then also switched to Daimler-Benz. After the takeover, the first Unimog of the 2010 series left the production line from Gaggenau on June 4, 1951 - still under the previous Ochsenkopf logo and without the Mercedes star. The compact vehicle, just three and a half meters long, managed as before with 25 hp (18.5 kW). The cab with folding roof, the all-wheel drive and the chassis with its four equally sized 6.5 × 20 wheels also remained unchanged. In 1953, the U 2010 series was replaced by the technically similar U 401 , the latter was supplemented by the U 402 (long wheelbase) . At the same time, a closed driver's cab ("frog eye") was offered for the first time. Westfalia took over its production . Now the Unimog has also received the Mercedes star . The original Unimog model family reached the peak of development in the 411 series , which replaced the 401 and was built from 1956 to 1974.

Military operation

Fire truck on a Unimog S 404, built in 1966
Self-propelled gun on Unimog 406

Although the Unimog was not intended to serve as a military vehicle, it has always been used as such. Initially, the 70200 and 2010 were procured by the Swiss Army, followed by vehicles from the 401 and 411 series. The French armed forces stationed in Germany also used vehicles from the 401 and 2010 series from 1952. From 1953, Daimler developed a Unimog especially for the French armed forces, the later series 404 (Unimog S ). In May 1955, the first Unimog of the 404 series left the assembly line in Gaggenau. In contrast to the previous Unimog designed as a farm tractor , the Unimog 404 was a small, highly off-road truck . It has a long wheelbase (2900 mm) and a gasoline engine. The largest purchaser of the military Unimog 404 was the German Bundeswehr, which bought 36,638 vehicles. A total of 64,242 vehicles were built up to 1980; Today the Unimog 404 is the most famous Unimog.

The Unimog 405.110 based on the Unimog 404 and the Unimog 419 based on the 406 series are designed for military purposes only. The 426, 431 and 418 series were also mainly used for military purposes. The Unimog 431 was not only used as an infantry transporter, but also as a self-propelled gun. Chassis of the heavy series (437.1, 437.4) were also used as the basis for military vehicles such as the Dingo .

Medium-weight series and Unimog model families

Unimog 406, built in 1971 as a road- rail vehicle

In order to avoid the imminent drop in sales forecast in the mid-1960s and to meet the demands of customers and equipment manufacturers, Daimler-Benz developed a heavy model series, the Unimog 406, to meet the increased requirements . It was presented on May 20, 1962 and was significantly larger than the original Unimog, with a wheelbase of 2380 mm. The engine was also changed; instead of a car engine, an industrial engine was used, the output of which was twice as high. Originally a 65 HP (48 kW) strong six-cylinder pre-chamber engine was installed, during the construction period the engine output was then gradually increased to 84 HP (62 kW). The 406 series embodied the term universal motor device best of all Unimog series built up to then and was the starting point for the Unimog 406 model family, whose narrow core comprised four series, of which a total of 94,215 units had been built by 1994.

The second vehicle in the Unimog 406 model family was the Unimog 416 introduced in 1965 , which technically corresponds to the Unimog 406, but has a longer wheelbase of 2900 mm (analogous to the Unimog 404). For a long time the 416 with 125 hp (92 kW) engine output was the most powerful Unimog series. The 100,000th Unimog (a Unimog 421 ) was built in 1966. This year the company put the Unimog program together again: Daimler-Benz placed the light series 421 and series 403 between the “big” Unimog 406/416 and the original Unimog 411 . While the Unimog 403 is technically identical to the Unimog 406 with the exception of the engine, the 421 is technically based on the 411, but has the cab and transmission of the Unimog 406 model family. The 403 was supplemented by the 413 with a long wheelbase, which, however, was not built in large numbers.

From 1968 the Unimog 416 was reproduced under license as the 426 series in Argentina in González Catán on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The vehicles were made from CKD sets that were produced in Gaggenau and shipped to Argentina for final assembly . The vehicles were mainly bought by the armed forces of Argentina , Chile , Peru and Bolivia ; 2643 vehicles were built. Also in Argentina, the 421 series was built under license as the Unimog 431 for the South American market between 1969 and 1971 . As with the Unimog 416, an open model (convertible) with 601 vehicles and a closed model (with a fixed cab) with 152 vehicles were produced from parts pre-produced in Gaggenau and from parts from Argentinian production.

Heavy series

Heavy series Unimog 435 (U 1300 L) of the federal government as RW1

In 1974, Daimler-Benz presented the 425 series with the U 120 model , thereby introducing the heavy Unimog series, making the formerly heavy series the middle series. The external distinguishing feature is the angular cabin with a large bonnet that barely slopes towards the front. It ends in a large, black front. The look of this cab has remained basically unchanged to this day. The 425 series began with an engine output of 120 hp (88 kW), a 2810 mm wheelbase and a gross vehicle weight rating of nine tons. For the Bundeswehr, production of the 435 series began in 1975 as the successor to the Unimog 404, characterized by a long wheelbase of 3250, 3700 or 3850 millimeters. It has the same cab as the 425 series. The 424 series was located a little further down from 1976 . From 1993, the Unimog U 2450 L 6 × 6 , an all-wheel drive three-axle vehicle, was new to the range . The engine output of the new top model had increased almost tenfold compared to the first Unimog.

Decline in sales and a new model range

In the mid-1980s, sales of the previous Unimog model series fell, which resulted in the sales figures being halved for 1987/1988, so that Daimler-Benz decided on the "Unimog program 1988", which provided for the renewal of the entire model range. The previous light row was replaced by the Unimog 407 , with the Unimog 417 replacing the middle row. The Unimog 424 was followed by the 427, followed by the 437.1 on the 425 and 435 . The MB-Trac , which is also manufactured in the Unimog plant , was discontinued in November 1991 as part of the new Unimog program. The 407 and 417 series have the same driver's cab in terms of design, which is much more ergonomic than its predecessor. Furthermore, the vehicles have been further developed, especially in details. Nevertheless, the new Unimog program was unsuccessful, so that in 1993 production of the 407 series was discontinued after only 789 units had been built. The 417, which was also discontinued in 1993, had 2275 copies.

Unimog 408 (1997)

At the International Motor Show in Hanover in 1992, Daimler-Benz presented a successor to the medium-sized 417 series, the 418 series . The light series 407 replaced the 408 , which was no longer part of the light, but rather the middle series. The vehicles were available with engines from 75 kW to 103 kW (418 series) or 65 kW and 85 kW (408 series) and had a redesigned driver's cab, with some models with a viewing channel on the driver's side, which was in the Unimog scene was often criticized negatively. Up to the end of production in 2001, 2050 Unimog 408 and 1223 Unimog 418 were built.

Based on the 408 series, the “ Funmog ” study was presented in March 1994 at the International Off-Road Fair in Cologne. The Funmog was built on special request, 12 units were built by 1997 and were mainly exported to Japan. The vehicle has chrome bars, bull catchers and compressed air horns, but no hydraulics and is limited to a permissible gross vehicle weight of 5 t, so that it can be driven with a class 3 driver's license. Luxury extras such as leather seats, carpets and the like were available for the Funmog. The retail price for the basic version was DM 140,000 - adjusted for inflation, that would be around 97,060 euros today.

In 1996, Daimler-Benz expanded the Unimog range to include an implement carrier for municipal operations, the 409 series . It was marketed as the Unimog UX 100 and produced by Daimler-Benz until 1998, when 790 vehicles were built. The production was then sold to the Hako group of companies, which continued to produce the vehicle as the "Kommobil" until 2002.

New equipment carrier and relocation to Wörth

Unimog 405 (U 400), 2000-2013
Unimog 405 (U 20)
Unimog 405 (U 423), since 2013

In the spring of 2000, the Unimog range was fundamentally revised and all previous vehicles, with the exception of the heavy series, were replaced by the new 405 series implement carriers . The appearance of the 405 series differs from the previous vehicles in that it has a completely new cabin. The models U 300, U 400 and U 500 are offered. Daimler designed this series as a municipal implement carrier. Two years after its introduction, Unimog production relocated from Gaggenau to Wörth am Rhein after producing more than 320,000 units . Production began there on August 26, 2002. The previous heavy-duty 437.1 series was replaced by the technically similar Unimog of the 437.4 series, which was now referred to as "all-terrain". Since then, the Unimog range has only consisted of two model series (405 and 437.4).

The Unimog Museum opened near Gaggenau in June 2006 . The 3.5 million euro building shows the Unimog history. At the commercial vehicle IAA 2006 , the Unimog U 20 , which came onto the market at the end of 2007 , was presented as a further model from the 405 series . Technically, the vehicle still belongs to the 405 series, but the cab is a forward control cab and corresponds to the Accelo series from Brazil. The wheelbase has been shortened to 2700 mm.

In August 2013, the Unimog model series 437.4 and 405 underwent a technical revision to meet the Euro 6 emissions standard. The Unimog 405 is now also available as the Unimog  U 200 .


In 2016/2017, Mercedes-Benz was awarded the Privatbahn Magazin innovation prize for its U 423 road-rail Unimog (in the "Energy + Environment" category) .


Web links

Commons : Unimog  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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