RE: Mercedes Unimog: A real-life Tonka toy

RE: Mercedes Unimog: A real-life Tonka toy

Monday 9th October 2017

Mercedes Unimog: A real-life Tonka toy

Is the Unimog the ultimate off-road toy?



In central London a Unimog is a sight to behold, a behemoth of a vehicle towering over the mundane collection of cars and vans. But when being used by a tree surgeon, for example, or in a quarry, you realise that its incredibly over-engineered status is a perfect fit. It has been active in agricultural and municipal duties since its inception in the early 1950s - used to cut and haul timber originally - and now used for everything from cleaning tunnels and hauling animal feed to towing trains, plowing snow and even Dakar Rally raids. It even had a cameo in a Hollywood blockbuster as 'Hound' the Autobot in Transformers: The Last Knight. But, even though it looks sinister in its camo wrap, fitted with a row of large spotlights under the windscreen, there is still a hint of Tonka toy about it. Which is no bad thing...

Hey, look, it's a film star!
Hey, look, it's a film star!
Our driving at Unimog Live starts with an example of the smaller Unimog range - all things being relative - the U218. With 177hp but an incredible 553lb ft, it has a top speed of 56mph as well as 347mm of ground clearance thanks to its portal axles. Oh, and apparently 7.4mpg is something to shout about in the truck industry.

Thoughts of it just being a larger G-Wagen were thrown out the window once seated in the spring-mounted seat, faced with a myriad of buttons, hydraulic controls, and the huge steering wheel. If the right options are ticked, it doesn't matter what side of the road it's driven on as the Vario Pilot lets you move the whole steering assembly to the other side of the cabin quickly and efficiently. Then there's the steering column mounted manual gear-selector and clutch pedal. Yes, where the automatic selector is on a normal Mercedes... The electro-pneumatic system allows the pre-selection of a higher or lower gear whilst on the move before dipping the clutch slowly till the gear is engaged. Tricky work when combined with the sheer size (even though this is the smallest of the range) of the vehicle. That's in addition to operating the multi-stage engine brake and diff locks, but that kept the drive entertaining. There is an option of having a regular automatic gearbox if you want less to do, however the manual proved quite a satisfying challenge.

"Is this all you've got?" etc etc
"Is this all you've got?" etc etc
The course selected wasn't one that particularly troubled the Unimog, as it breezed through the tasks it was assigned. Ascents and descents at angles that would feel unsafe in most off-roaders were a doddle. Mercedes says a Unimog is capable of tackling a 100 per cent gradient loaded with people and equipment. Even wading through deep pools did little to cause any issue. But take it through some seriously rutted terrain and, if driven slowly enough, the sound of the chassis flexing becomes apparent. And if the Unimog does get into a little trouble off-road, tyre pressures can be dropped and raised again without the need to get yourself bogged down in the mud. We did have a go in the much larger U5203 - smaller Unimogs have three-digit names, the big boys four digits - with the longer wheelbase and deeper fording ability of 1,200mm. It coped better with the rutted terrain due to the longer wheelbase but much like its smaller brother, it was far too capable for anything we threw at it.

All in all, the Unimog might look like a fish out of water on London streets, but don't forget Brabus tinkered with one a while back... It really is that versatile. If a vehicle with countless abilities and add-ons is what you need, there is little reason to look elsewhere.

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Author
Discussion

soad

Original Poster:

30,775 posts

139 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
cool Would I need a HGV licence? Tyres must cost a fortune too.

Doshy

754 posts

180 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
I know some of the older ones are classed as tractors, I'm not sure what the law is on driving tractors.

paulyv

849 posts

86 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
YES!

Such fond memories of my Dad starting his own agricultural business in early 80's Lincolnshire by buying 2 ex-West German Unimog military ambulances. I can still smell them now. They were petrol models so god only knows how much they gulped on regular trips to farms in their new 'Omega Seed Enterprises' livery as pictured below.

They both came from the surplus yard with ambulance backs, one of which became our garden shed, or my own personal den depending on who you asked. Living in the city I don't see them so often but would love to get one and run it off to Le Mans one year.

Not sure if it is different now but he didn't have an HGV license. Perhaps you do need one but 'country rules' applied...



I am confused however, where did the driving in this article take place? Is this a sales piece or is this somewhere we can all have a go? Oh, and surely a 100% gradient is 45degrees?!?



Edited by paulyv on Monday 9th October 12:46

RepeatOffender

87 posts

42 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
What sort of price do they start at?

Bonefish Blues

17,269 posts

186 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
One would be in my ultimate garage.

Dave Hedgehog

12,972 posts

167 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
that reminds me i must make my lego unimog


Mr.Jimbo

1,949 posts

146 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
It'd take you bd ages to get to LeMans in one of them, even if you started nearby!

I too raised an eyebrow at the vertical climb thing. 45 deg might not sound like much but having done it in a Range Rover it's a pretty scary thing!

Podie

46,148 posts

238 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
I think Lefty actually owned one once...

Scottie - NW

1,011 posts

196 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
paulyv said:
Oh, and surely a 100% gradient is 45degrees?!?
Correct, I am wondering why the article writer thinks it can go up vertical walls.

There is a village missing him.

rastapasta

910 posts

101 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
Doshy said:
I know some of the older ones are classed as tractors, I'm not sure what the law is on driving tractors.
anyone over 16 with a provisional license can drive one if classified as a tractor with only basic TP insurance required. If shes fitted with a 'highspeed' 'box (35-40kmph) you may run into issues or if it has to pull trailers with dolly hitches.

anothernameitist

1,500 posts

98 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
RepeatOffender said:
What sort of price do they start at?
http://www.ibbetts.co.uk/unimog/new

normalbloke

4,364 posts

182 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
Here's my old one, photo taken just before it was sold. Bought purely as an off-road toy, as I've always fancied one.

RichardR

2,848 posts

231 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
I've loved Unimogs ever since I had a Corgi Unimog tipper as a kid!



I've never driven one but there are a couple of tree surgeons around here with them and they always look like they mean business! smile

paulyv said:
Oh, and surely a 100% gradient is 45degrees?!?
Indeed! 1 foot / metre etc. increase in elevation for each foot / metre travelled = 1:1 = 100% = 45 degrees.

Plinth

672 posts

51 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
Scottie - NW said:
paulyv said:
Oh, and surely a 100% gradient is 45degrees?!?
Correct, I am wondering why the article writer thinks it can go up vertical walls.
You need this, not a Unimog!


h3nde

107 posts

52 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
Doshy said:
I know some of the older ones are classed as tractors, I'm not sure what the law is on driving tractors.
You can get a tractor license at 16. Test is pretty easy too IIRC smile

Ziplobb

792 posts

247 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
I have 2 or 3 mates that have these - superb tools

Nik Attard

71 posts

146 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
paulyv said:
I am confused however, where did the driving in this article take place? Is this a sales piece or is this somewhere we can all have a go? Oh, and surely a 100% gradient is 45degrees?!?

Edited by paulyv on Monday 9th October 12:46
Yep, you guys are correct 100% gradient is a 45-degree angle. Unfortunately, the "vertical climb" was added in during subbing.

so, sorry about that!

Nik

paulyv

849 posts

86 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
Nik Attard said:
Yep, you guys are correct 100% gradient is a 45-degree angle. Unfortunately, the "vertical climb" was added in during subbing.

so, sorry about that!

Nik
No need for apologies - I was doubting my own understanding and was suspecting I should have spent more time at school and less playing on the Unimog.

Leins

7,768 posts

111 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
Dave Hedgehog said:
that reminds me i must make my lego unimog

Also reminds me I've these Tamiyas to build too. Christmas task now I think:




paulyv

849 posts

86 months

Monday 9th October 2017
quotequote all
Mr.Jimbo said:
It'd take you bd ages to get to LeMans in one of them, even if you started nearby!
Ah, yes, it perhaps seemed faster when I was 10!