Words Ferdi De Vos
Originally designed as an agricultural tractor, the Unimog was a machine born from necessity. However, over the decades, it managed to stay relevant − becoming more powerful and versatile. Today, it is still the vehicle of choice for the most demanding tasks at hand. Dating back to 1946, during the hard times after World War 2, the indestructible Unimog (an acronym for “Universal- Motor-Gerät”, or universally applicable motorised machine) has become a legend in automotive, and particularly fourwheeling, folklore.
Over seven decades, numerous versions of this jack-of-all-trades were developed for arduous assignments under the most adverse conditions, all with ever-increasing U-numbers − reminiscent of the German submarines during the war. South Africa has a special connection to this vehicle, as a radical armoured development of its chassis and running gear saved the lives of many soldiers during the bush-war years. That vehicle was the Buffel (or buffalo). It was not only the first of its kind in the world, but also spawned a whole series of derivatives which are still in service in some countries, saving countless lives since its inception in 1976.