For those like me that do not (or at least did not) know much about the Unimog U500 I am including some spec sheets and a general discussion of the vehicle. It is worth noting that I could not find a spec sheet for a 2003 vehicle so have resorted to a document published in 2009. This later model vehicle has a Euro 5 engine (and as such required BlueTech fluid and ULSD fuel) rather than Euro 3 engine in our vehicle which has no issue with high sulfur fuel.

To read the specs click on the thumbnail image and then cycle through them with the next/prev tabs.

Our particular U500

The particular vehicle we acquired has the 8-forward 6-reverse speed Telligent manual transmission, plus both "working gears" (thats low range) and "crawler gears" (that's super low range).

I got a real kick from the spec sheet. Top speed in the crawler gears (with the transmission in 8th or top mind you) is 15 kph. I am looking forward to trying out those crawler gears to see just how slow they are.

Our vehicle also has the up rated engine (286HP), an uprated chassis at 33,000 GVW and 395/85R20 tires. It does not have CTIS (central tire inflation system) and I am probably a little disappointed about that.

Oh, and by the way the truck is YELLOW, the camper is also. We will look a bit like a bumble bee coming down the road.


We commissioned the following modifications to the truck.

  • The wheelbase has been extended from 153" to 181" to accommodate the camper box without an exceptionally large overhang or steeply sloping rear. This required an extended rear driveshaft and intermediate bearing block.

  • An additional fuel tank with a capacity of 100 gallons has been added giving a total fuel load of 160 gallons. I am hoping to get the range up towards 1,500 miles.

  • A Webasco 90 ST hydronic heater has been installed. This provides hot water to the camper while the truck is running and can also heat the truck coolant when the truck is not running. The camper heating is derived from hot water, but more on that later.

  • A sliding metal door was put in the back of the truck cab to facilitate entry into the camper from the driving position.

  • We added a RedDot roof mounted air conditioner to the truck cab as we had doubts about the effectiveness of the Unimog stock A/C in extreme conditions. The vario-pilot takes up some ducting space and seems to have the side effect of reducing the effectiveness of the stock AC.

  • Finally, the three point mounting system that connects the camper to the truck had to be installed. Is this a truck mod ?.

A winch - the mod we did not (yet) make

It probably seems strange to many that we did not (or maybe it is "have not yet") fitted a winch to our Unimog. After all this vehicle is such a 4x4 icon it is almost sacrilege not to put a winch on it, even if only for the "look". To top it off Warn even makes a hydraulic winch specifically for the Unimog.

My reasoning is simple. The Warn Unimog winch is about $5000, and has a pull rating of 18,500lbs. The vehicle will be about 24,000 lbs all up. All the recovery experts tell me that the winch should have a pull 2x to 3x the weight of the vehicle. Thus on that basis I need a 40,000 - 60,000lb rated winch. Such a winch will cost a lot more that $5000 and will weigh hundreds of pounds. Thus I will wait and see if a winch is needed - after all I plan on overlanding not rock crawling.