We had a unique opportunity to learn everything there is to know about a customized Mercedes-Benz Unimog at the 2019 Overland Expo West. This is a legendary vehicle that is recognized as a top overland-ready big rig. While they are popular at shows, not many are actually on the road in the United States.
The Mercedes-Benz Unimog is known for its utility and its outstanding off-road capability. “Unimog” is an acronym for the German “UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät” – which basically translates to Universal Motor Device. It was initially built in 1948 as an industrial/agriculture tool that used its power take-off to power multiple components (like saws, drills, generators and plows).
This 2005 Mercedes-Benz Unimog is one of the last units to be sold in the United States before they pulled out of our market. Like all Unimogs, it’s equipped with portal axles, coil springs with hydraulic shock absorbers, front and rear power take-off and a six-cylinder diesel power-plant. Power is listed at around 235 horsepower and about 1,000 lbs-feet of torque. Specific torques numbers are hard to nail down.
The six-speed transmission has an intelligent gear shift system allowing it to go from an automatic transmission to a manual. It has hydrostatic drive which allows for automatic shifting, but it also has a converter and clutch unit which functions like a manual. The entire drive unit, including the steering wheel, instrumentation and pedals can slide to either side of the cab. You can pilot it from either right or left-hand drive.
While it was never meant to be a recreational vehicle (RV), the Mercedes-Benz did serve as a military vehicle for several countries, a snow plow, hauler, ambulance, tow and recovery vehicle, farm vehicle, telecommunications repair vehicle and even a Rally Raid racer – among other duties.
The Mercedes-Benz Unimog we spotlighted in this video was converted into an off-the-grid, completely self-sufficient RV. It has a large bed, full kitchen, toilette/shower and the ability to power itself using solar panels. It also has a custom retractable deck built by John, its owner.
With over thirty years of off-road driving experience, John Marshall, is a Certified Master Off Road Driving Instructor by the International Four Wheel Trainers Association. He’s also the owner of the 2005 Mercedes-Benz Unimog overland vehicle featured in this video. He owns Coyote Adventures a company that specializes in multi-day overlanding trips and off-road guidance. Roman and I have seen him in action in Moab, Utah in the past. Great guy. Awesome rig!
Our video of this rig is coming up soon.