One for all.

Hans-Jürgen Wischhof was passionately committed to the versatility of the Unimog implement carrier.

This year the Unimog celebrates its 75th anniversary. To the present day innumerable people have contributed to its story – developing and marketing it, and of course in its operation. To take a look back at the tradition and history of this all-rounder from Mercedes-Benz, we meet some of the people who have accompanied the truck along its path, to get insights into the story behind the success of the Unimog.

We start with Hans-Jürgen Wischhof. "Mr Unimog", as former colleagues and partners still like to call him. From 1990 to 2003 he was Head of the then newly created Unimog business unit. However he discovered his passion for the "Universal-Motor-Gerät" much earlier than that. What is he most proud of? "Of my contribution to the launch of the new Unimog implement carrier starting in 2000," he says. "As a result, today’s users across the world can profit even more from the versatility of the Unimog." His work for the Unimog Museum is also an indication of how he would like to pass on his own enthusiasm for the Unimog to others.

Never still.

We meet him at the Unimog Museum at Gaggenau, which traces his history almost as much as that of the Unimog. The latter is now 75 years old while Hans-Jürgen Wischhof is 82. The two share many memories.

As soon as the introductions are over, Hans-Jürgen Wischhof begins reminiscing, "With regard to the Unimog we always said it needs four big wheels for driving on fields and the road." During his eventful life, he has been all over the world. Now, due to his age, his steps are somewhat shorter. But he still walks resolutely through the museum halls.

Because just like an Unimog in operation, Hans-Jürgen Wischhof almost never stops. Of course his treasured exhibits in the showroom have to do just that. But for Hans-Jürgen Wischhof it is important to mention that many of the historic Unimog trucks are still fully functional. He has spent many years working hard together with the museum team to achieve that.

From the very beginning.

We sit down and Hans-Jürgen Wischhof begins his account. To begin at the beginning: he was born in 1939 and grew up on a farm near Uelzen in the Lüneburger Heide region of Germany. That was where he first encountered the Unimog. A neighbour was using a Unimog U 25 on his farm. And another one was in operation in a neighbouring village at a saw mill – but not limited to that; it was also fitted with a Holder sprayer body for crop protection. After finishing school, an apprenticeship, military service with the air force and an agricultural internship, he did a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne.

From 1965 Hans-Jürgen Wischhof was a consultant in the technical division of the Trade Association for Agricultural Machinery on behalf of the Mechanical and Plant Engineering Association (VDMA). The Association represented the interests of the agricultural machinery industry on a national, European and international level. And as a result he was also responsible for the Unimog. "From the moment it was launched, the Unimog was a very special kind of vehicle that just didn’t fit any of the official boxes with regard to registration regulations," the experienced consultant remembers. "The fight to have the Unimog classified as an agricultural or forestry tractor took ten years in West Germany and an incredible 47 years in the European Union."


 

This year the Unimog celebrates a special birthday.


We look back on 75 years of universal motorised equipment. And look forward to the future.

75 years of Unimog. Power for a purpose.

Visit the anniversary page

A bond based on shared enthusiasm.

At the start of his career at the VDMA Hans-Jürgen Wischhof met one of the founding fathers of the Unimog personally: engineer Heinrich Rößler, who had developed the all-rounder together with Albert Friedrich and Hans Zabel. The two remained in close contact until the 1980s. Their main focus was to position the Unimog as a multi-functional motor vehicle with special rights.

It’s important to be open to a fundamental change.

Hans-Jürgen Wischhof, former Head of the Unimog business unit

"In April 1980 my career path took me straight to the heart of the Unimog world," Hans-Jürgen Wischhof remembers. At Daimler-Benz AG, as it was known at the time, he was first employed in the development of the Unimog and MB-trac. "Then the first intensive discussions about the further development of the future light-duty and medium-duty model series of Unimog as well as an expansion of the MB-trac range were already underway. The Unimog in particular was confronted with new legal requirements which were the result of international specifications for trucks."

In 1989, at the suggestion of the Board of Management, Hans-Jürgen Wischhof established a representative office for the corporation in Brussels and then took on the set-up and management of the Mercedes-Benz AG press office where he was responsible for press and public relations as well as traffic policies. "A year later, the job was done," he recaps. " I was 50 years old and looking for a new challenge."

So on 08 March 1990, Hans-Jürgen Wischhof became Head of the newly created Unimog business unit in Gaggenau. "By the mid-1990s we had achieved a fundamental change there. Based on the development philosophy of the UX 100 and a market survey completed across Europe, we decided in future to classify the Unimog in two fundamentally different model series: the professional implement carrier and the classic, highly mobile Unimog – of course with as many common parts in terms of value as possible," he explains.

Regular meetings and group driving tours: for many years now Hans-Jürgen Wischhof has been part of a great community at the Unimog Club Gaggenau.
The man from Gernsbach still loves the Unimog acronym. "It just sounds super!"
Hans-Jürgen Wischhof has bought two Unimog for himself: a Unimog U 404 and a Unimog U 411.
The green Unimog U 411 is equipped with a classic platform.
Hans-Jürgen Wischhof found a saddler who still had old patterns to make a new tarpaulin roof for his Unimog U 404.
The Unimog fan also placed great importance on authenticity when putting together the exhibits.
In addition to vehicles found in barns, Unimog are also on show in Gaggenau that were taken out of service elsewhere. Like this one which was donated to the museum by the town of Gaggenau.
With the help of his contacts in Switzerland Hans-Jürgen Wischhof was able to obtain original radio equipment for the museum.
"Mr Unimog" presents a Unimog for transporting crews as a special exhibit.
From the big picture to the smallest detail: Hans-Jürgen Wischhof knows the history of the Unimog inside and out.
Regular meetings and group driving tours: for many years now Hans-Jürgen Wischhof has been part of a great community at the Unimog Club Gaggenau.
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Always leading the way.

Hans-Jürgen Wischhof tells a structured and lively tale. It’s easy to imagine that this man always steamed ahead, ever a swing in his step. He was even certified the number one once: "I am a founding member of the Unimog Club Gaggenau e.V. and my membership number is number 1," he laughs. This is also a nice acknowledgement of his commitment.

Together with other club members he has also erected a monument to himself: the Unimog Museum in Gaggenau which a registered association has been running successfully since 2006. For many years Hans-Jürgen Wischhof was chairman of the board of trustees and shows us several of his own vehicles in the exhibition. He was even able to win over his long-time colleague and friend Mustafa Koluman, whom he met during his time in Turkey, as the main sponsor for the museum which attracts visitors from near and far.

Learn more about the Unimog Museum

A jubilant farewell.

At 64 years of age Hans-Jürgen Wischhof ended his career at Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks to go into well-deserved retirement. But not without first paving the way for the Unimog truck’s further development. "Together with my colleagues I relocated the Unimog from Gaggenau to Wörth," the man born in Lower Saxony tells us. "And then relocated myself to my home," he adds with a wink before he climbs into his beloved Unimog U 404 and switches on the engine.

"I wish the Unimog and everyone involved with it the greatest pleasure in future." The all-rounder with the three-pointed star has given him that his whole life.

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