Friday, October 31, 2014

Oakland Street Sighting - 1964 Mercedes-Benz Unimog 404S

Today is Halloween. With the current zombie craze in popular culture, everybody likes to fantasize about how they'd survive the zombie apocalypse. Well, here you go. A Mercedes-Benz Unimog is a military-grade four-wheel-drive truck known for its off-road prowess and durability. It might also do well for running down hordes of zombies.

The Unimog first came to be in 1946, an agricultural truck designed for occasional road use. Early production Unimogs were powered by a Daimler-Benz diesel engine. Mercedes-Benz took over Unimog production in 1951 and it received the familiar three-pointed star on the front. In 1955 the 404 series was introduced, with a rounded front end and a focus on actual off- and on-roadability. These trucks were available with an open or closed cab and a variety of rear cargo boxes or specialty utility bodies. The 404 S was built with a 2.2 liter Mercedes gasoline engine instead of a diesel, one of few Unimog variants designed that way. The 404 is also the most popular model and the easiest to find in the United States.

This is a 404.1, the first version of the 404, built somewhere between 1955 and 1973. I guessed 1964 as a model year because that's the midpoint in the production run. I could be totally wrong and I welcome a correction from a more knowledgeable reader. The house it was parked in front of had security cameras focused in the direction of the unusual purple 'Mog so I felt it would be wise not to get too close. (If you're reading this after reviewing your security camera footage from last year and you saw some dude flash a thumbs-up after photographing your truck, that was me.) The color scheme is really quite odd, particularly having Minnesota Vikings colors on a vehicle in the heart of Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers territory. That's going just a bit farther than my friend who walks around in the city wearing a Dodgers hat just to spite Giants fans. Then again, purple and yellow are complementary colors, and the original tan paint color (still visible on the inside of the cab) was aging. There is some red visible around the passenger side door window as well, so this truck may have had a second career with a fire department or something before it ended up on a quiet residential street in Oakland.

Come to think of it, this thing would be a pretty awesome zombie crushing machine. And it even has a hatch in the roof that could be used for shooting at the undead (the hatch is a factory option on these). In the meantime, it's just the most interesting pickup truck on the block. Personally, that's how I'd like it to stay.

Happy Halloween!

1 comment: