Fieldside Classic: Mercedes-Benz Unimog 406 – AWD Tractor, Dump Truck, Flatbed Truck And Tool Carrier

Right after the Second World War, German engineer Albert Friedrich started with the development of a multi-purpose vehicle for farmers. What he had in mind was a hybrid between a capable farm tractor, a family car and a small truck. His work resulted in an absolute and undisputed off-road legend, the Universal-Motor-Gerät (a Gerät is a device, a machine, an apparatus).

Just a few early prototypes, equipped with a Mercedes-Benz gasoline engine, were built by Erhard und Söhne. The production of later prototypes continued at the Gebr. Boehringer GmbH, yet these were powered by a Mercedes-Benz diesel engine. In the late forties, the Boehringer company started the series production of the Unimog 70200. Boehringer built exactly 600 of them.

It was not until late 1950 that the Unimog became a full Daimler-Benz operation. Mass-production started in June 1951 at the Gaggenau plant, the birthplace of the Mercedes-Benz Unimog.

Unimogs feature a ladder frame, portal axles, coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers and four equally sized tires. The 406-series, as seen here, was introduced in 1963 and was built till 1989. Two PTOs were standard equipment, one at the front and one at the rear, working independently of each other. Disc brakes became standard in 1973.

This late-eighties U84 model variant (offered from 1971 to 1989) is clearly a hobby vehicle in an immaculate, restored condition. Something that doesn’t bother me at all, thanks to such dedicated owners we can enjoy a fine piece of classic, pure work-equipment for many years to come.

It’s powered by a Mercedes-Benz OM 352 engine. A direct injected, naturally aspirated inline-six diesel with a displacement of 5,675 cc. The maximum power output is 84 DIN-hp @ 2,550 rpm.

Splendid, a three-way dump bed. No need to dump anything? Then you can just use it as a flatbed truck with dropsides.

The Unimog is so highly capable and so highly versatile that agriculture became merely one of its many target markets. Forestry, fire departments and other municipal services, the military, geotechnical investigation, construction and the oil industry. You name it, the Mog turned out to be a handy tool for any professional off-roader.

Here’s an Italian video, featuring a 1979 Unimog 406. There are word balloons in English, explaining things. Enjoy the ride and the scenery.