When it comes to German utilitarian vehicles, the Unimog is the be-all, end-all; a half-tractor, half-urban assault vehicle. But Austria offered an interesting and less agricultural way to achieve the same goal. Built in Graz, Steyr-Daimler-Puch (usually shortened to Steyr-Puch) offered two platforms for military and industrial all-road capability. Starting in 1954, the first was the Haflinger, and it was anything but traditional. Named for the famed sure-footed breed of Austrian mountain horses, unlike a usual body-over-frame design, the Haflinger employed lightweight yet rigid casings around its drivetrain, highlighted by a central tube which connected the front and rear drive sections. This formed the basis for the structural rigidity of the Haflinger. A platform was then mounted above to carry passengers and cargo. Though they looked quite light-duty as a result and indeed tipped the scales at a scant 1,300 lbs, the off-road capability was anything but lightweight. Portal axles with gear reduction, independent coil springs and manual locking differentials gave supreme off-road capability. Power for such a small package was modest, with the flat-twin cranking out about 30 horsepower in .6 liter form as we see here. While you might not be going anywhere fast, you were certain to get there no matter where “there” was.
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On a recent bike trip, my girlfriend and I had some long climbs up the foothills of the Bay Area on tree-lined, one-lane switchbacks. On one particularly gorgeous but hidden stretch, she yelled “look at the cool Unimog down there!” Thankful as I am that my partner knows what a Mog is, it was actually a fascinating Pinzgauer 4×4 that looked like it was prepared to be an RV for the zombie apocalypse. While that particular model looked prepared to keep people out, today’s 6×6 model looks like it wants to let anyone and anything crawl in while it dominates terrain. With heated seats, a huge truck bed, and one of the most stout external rollcages I’ve seen, I’m not sure what it’s for other than what the dudes are doing in the photo – but just riding in it looks pretty fun.