Here’s something you don’t expect to encounter in Japan – a good old M-B Unimog 406. Even a total truck ignoramus such as I recognized this one immediately. But this one, on top of being forlorn in the courtyard of a 19th century soy sauce factory (I kid you not) in the Japanese sticks (bamboo, surely?), has the coolest period accessory I’ve ever seen on an old truck.
Our little beast here seems like a ‘70s Mog, but then I’m really no expert. It’s LHD, but I don’t know if they were ever made any other way. Only one factory made these – Gaggenau in Baden-Württemberg – for the entire run, which lasted from 1963 to 1989. Mercedes-Benz made just over 37,000 over these and sold them all over the world, except North America.
In 1970, the cabin got two extra rear windows, which this truck has. The chrome bars on the grille (which are painted over in this case) were deleted in 1979, after which the Unimog 406 more or less stopped evolving and sales sank. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, it had a 5.6 litre direct injection Diesel straight-6 delivering 84 PS and could barely reach 80 kph. But then, it was not really meant for speed.
And now for the party piece: this magnificent machine has an equally magnificent roof-mounted Mark IV A/C unit. Generally, these would be under the dash, but I take it the 406’s dash probably doesn’t have enough space. I couldn’t get a picture of the interior, unfortunately. But the A/C vents are clearly visible for this angle – directly under the unit, ready to blow copious amounts of cool air directly into the faces of the Unimog’s passengers.
I photographed a similar arrangement on an old Škoda 1000MB in Bangkok earlier this year. It was comical on that COMECON contraption, but on Big Blue here, it looks fine. Aerodynamics are really of little concern here, so why not have the ability to drive this great big AWD classic truck without sweating it? It gets very hot and humid here in the summer, but not so in the coolest Mog in the country.
Fieldside Classic: Mercedes-Benz Unimog 406 – AWD Tractor, Dump Truck, Flatbed Truck And Tool Carrier, by Johannes Dutch
Cohort Sighting: Unimog In Hell, by Perry Shoar
CC Outtake: The Odd Couple, by David Saunders
Cohort Outtake: A Study In Contrasts, by PN
Looks like a company (Kabushiki Kaisha) owned truck.
What a cool way to deliver soy sauce shipments.
Good thing vertical clearance isn’t an issue here …
Unimogs were sold in the US. I’ve seen them used by public works agencies, railroad companies for off and on track use with flanged wheels, and as private snow plows. Nice find for Japan …
Edit: I shouldn’t have second guessed T87. The 406 was not sold here, only later 500 and 900 models.
There were Unimogs in the US. As dman mentioned, they were mostly used by government organizations. They were called see-trucks.
That type of roof mounted air conditioner was very common on trucks and heavy equipment from the 60s to the late 80s so it’s not too surprising on a Unimog in a hot climate.
In addition to military and government sales in the US Case sold Unimog 406s with Case branding and a prominent headache rack in the 70s and 80s as farm vehicles.More recently the Unimog U900 was sold in the US through Freightliner until it couldn’t comply with emissions laws
I”ve seen two of these with vocational upfits in the Truckee/Tahoe/Reno area. One is in the back of the AT&T yard in W Truckee and the other is at the Western Pacific RR Museum in Portola.
In addition Truckee has a few Unimogs from other markets that have come in under the 25yr rule.
Fantastic shape. Roof-mounted aircon works but not a fan of the blue.