After more than a year of researching vehicles for a round-the-world motorhome, I've all but settled on a Unimog U1300L/37 with factory turbo engine if possible as the best all-round platform.
I would like to hear from anyone having FIRST HAND experience with the difficulty or otherwise of living with a 435 Unimog.
To get such a vehicle registered here in Australia, it must have been manufactured prior to January 1st, 1989 and be RHD.
My choice stems from the need for serious, reliable offroad capability, spare parts availability, space for a dedicated queen-sized bed (1500mm wide), shower and toilet, and torsion-free mounting of the camper box.
I'm aware of the fuel consumption and higher service costs, and the likely need to fit lower differential ratios for a more realistic cruising speed at fewer engine revolutions. But what really concerns me is the unknown ... for instance, it has long been folklore in Australia that to rebuild a Unimog gearbox costs around GBR20,000 pounds!
I've been running heavily modified re-engineered 4WD's for close to 30 years, and know from experience that my wife and I (in our early 60's) just can't resist exploring the most remote destinations.
Although the Unimog is larger than I would like for some of the tracks to be tackled, I can't find anything else that provides all of its benefits. To keep a lower roofline and COG, my intention at this stage is to fit a pop-top roof.
From what I've read, and I know nothing else about their behaviour, a firm like Atkinson Voss in England would appear to have the experience to supply the vehicle I'm seeking, including a RHD conversion, at far lower cost than available in Australia.
Any input from Unimog owners would be greatly appreciated.
I am not a mog owner but spent a lot of time looking into mogs. Most of these are ex-military from Europe so left hand drive, there are a few in the Uk I have seen that were ex council but they were a big mess and pretty high on the miles.
1300L/435 factory turbo, The ambulance version has that with fast axles normally also comes with a rear shelter. Atkinson Vos have a turbo kit for few K GBP.
In the Uk try tree surgery forums there is alot in use in that sector but mainly shorter wheelbase versions. Lots of info on running costs and repairs there. I have seen 5k bills before for gearbox rebuilds and parts including other bits but not 20k bills. You will get good info on there regarding how they handle on crappy tracks, puncture rates ect, not seen too many but alot of those guys run agriculture tyres.
I am pretty sure both OZ and Kiwi army had mogs so you might ant to keep your eyes peeled for that.
Hi gus, I think your best bet would be to contact one of the owners clubs in the uk.
try :The UK Unimog owner's meeting place.
good luck with your search.
Check out the unimog forum on benzworld.org. There is a guy on there building a mog based camper, and probably has answered just about everything you can think to ask, and he is in Australia.
As to living with a Mog, it's not so bad. My wife and I moved into our mog camper on Christmas day when we moved out of our house, and have been on the road in it ever since. We plan to live in it for almost another 2 years during which time we plan to visit South America.
Ours is a lhd 1300L. Ex German military with no turbo, but I got the turbo fitted by Atkinson Vos, and have done about 10K with that fitted, and it's great. As to speeds, cruizing speed is about 65kph for us. We can go quicker, but the mog then starts to use engine oil, and the front hubs portal gears turn into oil pumps and can empty themselves :-)
it's doing about 30L per 100km (VERY roughly - it varies depending on how hilly the terrain is). however, we find we dont drive very many km per week, so it's not that big a deal. during 3 months in Morocco, we did on average about 110km per day.
you need to mind it, grease it regular, check the oil etc, but while they are large, it is not tricky. Changing wheels is actually easy once you have the hang of it, but putting the spare back into the standard spot is tricky.
What do you want to know - any specifics?
note however: I have met a few people who have changed from Mogs to MAN 4x4 trucks, but no one has ever changed the other way :-)
that said, we have met a couple in their 80's in Morocco who are still travelling with their U1500Mog for 26 years.....
Keep the body the same with as the wheels, and not much taller than the cab (pop up is perfect), and you'll have an amazing truck.
You can see what we do with ours on our blog, at Moglander's Travels | The travels of Moglander, and all that sail in her.
U1300l's are common at the moment and maybe will give you the widest choice of Mogs, so you have a good chance of a good one. There never have been many L37s, so I think you will struggle to find one to buy let alone a choice.
Many U1300l campers are too heavy. I decided to build my own camper on a 3250mm U1300l, but then one came up for sale at a price not to be sniffed at. Non turbo ex army U1300l, max gross 7500kg, actual travelling weight nearer 8500kg. It had explored much of central and north US and Canada without issue, but the robustness of design was a big reason for going down that route to provide reliability. Starting a trip as is seemed a liability, but I'd already lived in it for a year or so when I even thought about its actual weight. Since then I know of one U1300l camper thats 8000kg with nothing in it, one at 7500kg, and two others that the owners know are too heavy but won't say how much by. A Vos picked my camper box off and put it on a similarly sized U1700, so now I could carry a spare Landy as luggage, 9500kg actual travelling weight. There are also several U1300L campers that are well within the 7500kgs, but they are modest boxes. Iain on Benzworld that Merv mentioned has been very careful with weight throughout his build but has only just got under 7500kg, but maybe you've looked already? My Camper Project - Benzworld.org - Mercedes-Benz Discussion Forum
Just AV's turbo won't give you the same HP as a Merc turbo'd by the factory (although your Mog may vary ;)), more fiddling is needed which they can also do. They turbo'd my 1300l making it still the slowest thing on the road bar tractors. Changing the gearing for higher road speed is money wasted unless you have a very light camper or 250HP. A heavier camper will be better served by an overdrive. My 1700 was intercooled by AV and we can now mostly maintain 55mph on the motorway, but its still slower than all modern trucks. We have an overcab bed and are 3.9m tall so drag is an issue at speed (!), but if you pull away in 3rd or 4th (as you will), and 7th to 8th happens at 30 odd mph, then just the number of gearchanges will slow you compared to everything else. I don't mind this, you are on holiday after all! :)
All the stuff you need to add to a Mog ups the cost a fair bit beside the camper, but a low mileage ex-mil U1300l Mog being about £14k at the moment, then the books saying you need megabucks to even think about buying a Mog are not accurate. Fuel is 2 or 3 times more than a Landy, but a trip for us would have never happened without a decent bed for back problems.
If you really need a big camper maybe you should get a more powerful MAN truck or suchlike. If you can end up at 7000kg or less, within the 3.9m length of camper a 3250 wheelbase allows at a 60% overhang, then buy a U1300l!
Alaskan Campers near Seattle can build a pop top for "less than $40000", weighs 1 ton empty, within the 3.9m. Since its not an off the shelf item, or even one they've done before, they can't be more accurate on costs until they firm up your needs.
The U1300l with about 150HP didn't drink oil, didn't have an oil problem with the hubs and did 11mpg. The U1700 has two piece axles which "never" have a hub issue, doesn't drink oil, and does about 10mpg with about 200HP, both engines are rebuilds though.
Split rims will make swapping the 6th spare tyre onto a rim easy, no levers needed.
There is a fix for the problem with the (front usually) portal boxes pumping oil through the breather hose into the diff. Someone on benzworld.org has made up a kit. It apparently happens only on Mogs with 6 lug nuts (like U1300), not 10 (like U1700-2450/500).
In my U500 we can easily cruise at 95-100kph, it weighs 12.5 tons fully loaded (GVM 15 tons), it does about 26-29L/100km at that speed. EGR is deleted.
Hi GusGus - I'm in the process of importing a U1300L military ambulance into Australia and can help you through the import maze when you are ready. The Mog leaves Merex.de in Germany next week so the difficult part of the process, quarantine clearance and engineering inspection, is yet to come.
Given that we won't be doing big tours I like the idea of keeping the camper simple. With 1.6m headroom in the ambulance the idea of a pop-top is appealing. I'd be interested in your ideas for local pop-top manufacture. Regards Craig
I used A Voss to supply a Mog, which i imported into W.A. for a friend about 12 years back . I found them to be as good as their word in the condition of the Mog as it arrived . It was not for camper use though. I would caution you against getting too small a mog from the load rating point of view , as it is becoming more and more risky to run "overloaded/overweight" vehicles in many parts of the world either from a penalty or liability if things go a bit wrong situation . A mog is a bit of overkill in some respects , and its complexity , all though generally reliable , if really not needed can result in uneeded cost. It might be that a MAN or DAF would be just as adequate for what you actually need at a lesser cost . HTSH
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