This Unimog might be the ultimate social distancing vehicle

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Bring a Trailer/Jimbo2601

The nationwide calls for social distancing got me thinking about which vehicle I’d choose to maximize the (limited) opportunities of said edict. Would it be a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, wafting me to nowhere in total comfort? Perhaps a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, helping me get off the beaten path? Maybe a Koenigsegg Jesko—call it distance by quickness. After trawling Bring a Trailer today, I think I found the answer. I’d buy this 1989 Freightliner Unimog 419, drive out into the woods, and dig myself a moat.

Bring a Trailer/Jimbo2601

Where to begin? It’s an ex-U.S. Military rig, which translates to “tried, true, and tough as hell” in normie-speak. In 2009, the beast was overhauled by the Red River Army Depot, a military vehicle specialty firm, meaning this already tough vehicle has some (relatively) fresh parts on it.

Those mechanical tweaks, however, pale in comparison to the earth-moving devices at either end of the Unimog. My inner five-year-old is buggin’ out. The front-end loader looks perfect for dumping heaps of dirt into the trail that I’ll use to abscond into the woods—blockades that will, of course, help prevent unwanted guests from stumbling across my hideout and breaching social distancing parameters. Once I reach my clearing deep in the northern Michigan woods, I’ll dig a moat around my space with the folding backhoe apparatus. Good luck finding me once I’m out there—this camo paint ain’t just for show.

Awesome attachments and military spec aside, this beast is still formidable; it’s a Unimog, one of the most rugged and versatile vehicles on the planet. Unimogs have been around in some form or another since the 50s, serving originally as farm workhorses but learning new trades as the years dragged by. We’ve seen Mogs used as everything from a firetruck and military transport rig to a strange, folding vehicle transporter. This one is powered by a 5.7-liter Mercedes-Benz straight-six diesel, paired with a manual gearbox, dual-range transfer cases, and locking differentials. That means plenty of torque to get over pretty much any obstacle.

Inside, we find black vinyl seats, a few switches, and not much else. There’s no time for Alcantara or cooling seats—we’ve got a moat to dig! Above the gauges on the dashboard, there’s a gauge to measure how much the vehicle is leaning. This feature is especially useful, because this bad boy would be a tough one to right if you decided to introduce the door to the ground. The storage cabinets placed around the truck are perfect for packing a tent, some supplies, and whatever else you might need. For instance, a jackhammer, which actually does come with this vehicle. In the spirit of utilitarianism, there’s a set of plaques inside the passenger door that give vital information like the type of service needed at the different lubrication points of the vehicle, as well as a graphic displaying its precise center of gravity.

Petroelje unimog dashboard
Bring a Trailer/Jimbo2601

At the time of this writing, the leading bid stands at $10,000 with four days left on the sale. For that money, this feels like a whole heaping lot of functionality. Or maybe novelty; in these times, the line between the two can get a bit blurred.

What vehicle’s keys would you grab to do your social distancing duty?

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    I was stationed in Hawaii from 89 to 93 and this was my primary work vehicle and I have longed for it ever since lol. Its an amazing combination of German and American engineering and I still tell everyone that I had the priveledge of driving a Mercedes for the US Army. IN HAWAII! LOL

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