“WHAT IS THAT THING?”
Four Wheeler|July 2020
John Marshall’s ’05 Mercedes-Benz Unimog U500 is 80 percent unique trail rig and 100 percent custom machine
Tori Tellem 

You might be currently thinking one of these three questions: “What is that thing?” or “Where do you take that thing?” or “What’s in the back?” The short answers: “John Marshall’s ’05 Mercedes- Benz Unimog U500 expedition camper,” “everywhere,” and “everything.”

The Unimog in general still manages to give many people a case of the verklempts, simply because the vehicle has remained a rare breed to find on the trail (and on the street). But as John pointed out, “The Unimog U500 is perhaps the most advanced and capable off-road vehicle ever made, with three locking differentials and three transfer-case ratios to select at the touch of a finger. First gear in low range is so low—at well over 4,000:1—it will move about 40 inches per minute at redline rpm.” With those kinds of impressive genes, why aren’t we seeing more of them? “They are not cheap and there are only a few people in the U.S. that can help when it comes to service.” To John’s point, you’d be expected to cough up roughly six figures to buy one. The Unimog first arrived in Europe in 1951. But for this Unimog’s timeline, it points to when Freightliner became the source for the German-built Mercedes-Benz U500, beginning in 2003. That ended about two years later. (And in case you didn’t know, Unimog is short for universal motorized gerät. That third word has multiple acceptable translations, from machine to tool. Sounds about right for a Unimog.)

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