The now-legendary Mercedes-Benz Unimog, which has proven its strengths many hundreds of thousands of times, celebrates its 70th birthday this year.
Following the successful exhibition of the then-revolutionary Unimog at the German Agricultural Society show, held in Frankfurt in the summer of 1950, it became clear to the managers at Göppingen-based Boehringer Bros. that it would be impossible to meet the demand for their Unimog without a vast amount of investment.
Even the supply of engines, the OM636 diesel engine from Mercedes-Benz 170D passenger car, was far from guaranteed. During the post-war economic boom, Daimler-Benz understandably insisted that its engines must meet capacity demands from its own vehicles before supplies could be sent elsewhere.
The OM636 engine was previously supplied to Boehringer for its Unimog 70200 models, although the units were tuned to deliver just 25hp, rather than the 38hp they produced when fitted to the 170D saloon car. The first diesel engine produced for passenger cars following the war, the OM636 was renowned for its economy and saw service right through to 1963.
Needing investment, negotiations commenced between two representatives of Daimler-Benz AG and the six shareholders of the Boehringer Unimog development company. Among the shareholders was the father of the Unimog, Albert Friedrich, as well as Rolf and Werner Boehringer as representatives of the Boehringer Bros. manufacturing company from Göppingen.
Talks on the Unimog takeover started on 5 September 1950. During these talks, Daimler-Benz made a written declaration of the intention to take over the Unimog with all rights and obligations. The negotiations were concluded on 27 October 1950, with each side finally agreeing to a valuation of 600,000 Deutsche Marks – or about £1.5 million after allowing for inflation.
That bargain price bagged Daimler-Benz a product that would go on to achieve phenomenal success worldwide. More than 380,000 Unimog units have been sold in the 70 years since, serving to underline its unique position in the international commercial vehicles business.