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The classic Unimog in the driving report

The first Unimog with a star
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Get on, pay attention to the diesel minute, off you go. The old U nimog 401 greets its driver with an engine noise from days long gone, when diesel engines were primarily frugal, indestructible and noisy. Not more than 90 dB (A) - that was already determined on the day of the first registration in 1954, when our photo model, type U 25 401.103, received its approval for road traffic. The Federal Republic was still young, the Unimog a child of the post-war days.

The Unimog 401 was supposed to help with the construction

When the Morgenthau plan provided for Germany to be converted into a purely agricultural state, Albert Friedrich brought it first studies on paper for an agricultural all-wheel-drive vehicle in front-link design - the universal motor device. As early as 1945, a contract was signed with Erhard & Söhne from Schwäbisch-Gmünd, which was able to present the first drivable prototype as early as 1946: the Unimog was born. Albert Friedrich, the intellectual father of the Unimog, which has a successful history of over 60 years, drew on his own old ideas:

plans out the 1940s

As head of Daimler aero engine development in Berlin, he had already made sketches for a cab-over-engine crew vehicle in 1942, from which the Unimog can later benefit to a large extent, including the portal axles. Because these plans became relevant again when Friedrich met Heinrich Rößler by chance in 1945 at the Daimler factory in Untertürkheim, which was destroyed in the war. Like Friedrich, the former colleague from aircraft engine production had meanwhile started thinking about an agricultural utility vehicle because he too saw such a concept as the only possibility of being able to work as a vehicle engineer again under the Allied administration in post-war Germany.

The first agreements with Erhard & Söhne to build the Unimog were also based on the Mercedes era of the two engineers. The company had been working as a parts supplier for Daimler-Benz at the time and was now looking for new fields of activity like them. Together with Friedrich and the manufacturer Franz Catta, Erhard & Söhne secured the financing of the project, Friedrich was able to start the construction work. In the first drawings of the 'MotorizedUniversal vehicle for agriculture 'it was still about a rear-engine concept, similar to the one that Puch was later to implement when building the Haflinger.

Daring Production conditions

From today's perspective, it seems downright bold under which conditions the history of the Unimog began back then - you had to haggle with the military government over material allocation, get new partners on board, secure the financing. The Göppingen mechanical engineering company Boehringer participated in the planning early on, in 1948 the complete production went to Boehringer, Erhard & Söhne stayed on board as parts suppliers.

Der first with the star

and Mercedes contributed the first diesel engine for the Unimog - the IU version of the oil engine (OM) 636 that was used as The further developed VI-U also found its place in the generation of our photo model six years later. These 401 were allowed to wear the star. Although Daimler-Benz had already taken over production from Boehringer in 1951 and the first Unimog were built in Gaggenau in 2010, those types still wore the stylized ox head of the Boehringer works as a brand emblem.

In the 401, both trademarks were already combined. It was not until autumn 1955 that the star finally shone from the Unimog front. Like the original type, the 401 was also intended exclusively as a field and forestry vehicle. At that time, the 25 hp of its four-cylinder diesel was sufficient for a very brisk top speed of 50 km /h. More importantly, however: the reduction gears that can be switched on up to two times and the additional wheel reduction on the front of the portal axles allow the torque to be multiplied and the crawling speed to be reduced to a maximum of 300 meters per hour.

As a tractor and machine carrier

It goes without saying that the U 401 with narrow tires could easily tear a plow through the field with it. With its power lift and power take-off, it was also ideally suited as a machine carrier. Not only that. The Unimog also made a name for itself in forestry operations as a towing vehicle with which one could move trailers weighing up to 40 tons. A myth was born. The Cabrio-401 shown here was accompanied by a variant with a closed cab.

The rounded so-called frog-eye cabin was manufactured by Westfalia. The 401 in our story belongs to Heinrich Brimmer. He runs a horticultural business - and has also collected six other Unimog vehicles over the years. The 54-year-old piece of jewelery shown here is still allowed to run on visits to the fields, the meticulously restored Unimog only has to work with difficultyno more.

The inventor built tractors

Albert Friedrich, the father of the Unimog, left the Unimog a year earlier Brimmers Unimog went into operation on its own: After it became clear that Mercedes was returning to the military commercial vehicle business with the Type S derived from the 401, the designer probably took his hat off in protest against this development and switched to the agricultural machinery manufacturer Lanz.


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