Design Crime: World’s Snootiest Safari Truck Is Part SUV, Part RV

Mercedes Unimog

The Unimog by Mercedes-Benz–the classic go-anywherevehicle that debuted after World War II–has been everything from a militaryunit, to a farm tractor, to a Funmog, the black-and-chrome discomobile that wasa hit in Japan in the early ‘90s. It’s a hefty piece of engineering to be sure–all-wheel drive, portal-gear axles that ensure ground clearance, and arelatively badass suspension system. But the latest iteration announced thisweek by the German auto manufacturer takes a small slide into the ridiculous:the Expedition Camper Concept, which affords consumers a sublime off-roadingexperience–for a mere $300,000. (That’s like what, one quarter’s worth of dividends from the BP stock? Pshaw.)

This is how we imagine Blackwater–sorry, Xe!–goes on safari: Theexterior features something called a thermal bridge-free fiberglass-reinforcedplastic body with a 2mm-thick fabric-reinforced outer layer; inside there’s atwo-burner stove, a fridge, satellite TV and a DVD player, and a seriouslycozy-looking bed. As Mercedes helpfully points out, “Should it–in the veryunlikely event–get stuck, the Unimog can use its hydraulic seven-ton frontwinch to pull itself out of the quagmire with its ‘own hair’ à la BaronMunchausen.”

MB’s own marketing copy indicates they they may or may not be in on the joke: “There’s just something sexy about taking a Mercedes off-road. I mean, can you really get much better than piloting a G-Class through the jungle or over a bit of mountainous terrain? I didn’t think so.”

But our favorite feature is visible in the photos that accompanythe release — the painted-on compass conveniently indicating that south is theground and north is the sky, and what looks to be your own private security plane, hovering discreetly in the background. Because, you know, you always want a way out if the savages get testy. JS