Custom 4x4: Unidan Unimog

Custom 4x4: Unidan Unimog

Unimog officially stands for Universal-Motorgerät, which, in a roundabout way, translates to universal motorised machine.

And universal appeal is pretty much what they have achieved, with Unimogs now used worldwide as anything from firefighting and military vehicles to agricultural workhorses and competition trucks, as well as touring, camping and expedition four-wheel drives.

Unofficially, the Unidan is the lovechild of a Unimog and a fella by the name of Daniel (Dan) Mavin, who loves nothing more than turning Unimogs into the most capable 4x4s ever to grace the earth.

Daniel, the hands-on owner – and lover of all things off-road – decided to turn his passion into a business just a few years ago. Via his modifications, vision, first-class workmanship, and his skills in creating custom parts, he has created a worldwide phenomenon that would make any vehicle manufacturer jealous.

Custom unidan unimog rearA ‘DOKA’, in a roundabout way, is short for ‘double-cab four door’ in Unimog speak, and while Mercedes did make them in small numbers as standard, they were never manufactured quite like the one you see here.

What most non-Unimog folk wouldn’t realise is the one here is the mashing together of two single cab Mogs. Yep, a cut-and-shut job on a huge scale to enable the comfortable cartage of up to six adults. Plus, there’s a massive amount of space in the ute section – perfect for a mobile home, camper pod or for loading quad runners, bikes or boats for your off-road escapes.

Not only has it been lengthened in the cab section, but it has also had its roof lifted to allow for more occupant head room and for fitting ducted air conditioning – a comfort I’m sure the defence forces around the world have never enjoyed before! The gunmetal grey paintwork, instead of the standard drab green or camo coverage, also helps this Mog stand out from the crowd.

Custom unidan unimog side viewOther relatively minor panel adjustments include the widening of the driver’s side footwell, with the modification of the rear wall to allow for a walk-through to the tray area, as well as the slight raising of the whole cab to allow for larger diameter tyres.

The complete vehicle has been sandblasted and totally stripped and refurbished.

Everything from door rubbers and paintwork to internal engine and gearbox parts has been replaced, and many custom parts have been added.

Panel work aside, standard bar work that’s available for these vehicles is pretty limited to, dare I say, ugly and commercially orientated stuff. Fair enough – it does the job, but Daniel wanted to do better in the looks department while still maintaining rugged practicality, so he set about making his own bullbar, rear bar and roof cage system.

Custom unidan unimog front bull barThe finished bar work is every bit as good as you’ll find in our top-of-the-line aftermarket accessories joints, albeit much larger and heavier duty. The front bar incorporates low-mounted fog lights and bash plates for underbody frontal protection.

At the rear, an upswept steel bar is home to a 17,500-pound, 24-volt RUNVA electric winch (which sits within its own removable cradle), LED reversing lights, LED tail-lights and a hook and pintle-style tow hitch.

Unidan winchUp top, an exo cage-style rack attaches directly to the cabin at several points and serves multiple purposes, including a ladder for roof access, an LED light bar mount, protection for the snorkel, and brush protection for the windscreen when driving through thick scrub. Given the height of a Unimog, we’re guessing these scrub bars would get a work-out on most tracks that usually only see the likes of Land Cruisers and Patrols.

Other than an integrated crane for lifting general gear and the massive spare wheel, the rear of Daniel’s DOKA has been left pretty stark under the grey PVC cover to allow cartage of general camping gear, but would be a perfect spot for that dream ‘round-the-world’ camper body. Given the standard ADF Mogs didn’t have factory PTOs fitted, Dan has installed an N17 PTO gearbox to the standard gearbox to allow for extra goodies to run.

While out 4x4ing for the day, the design parameters of the Unimog were undoubtedly apparent – they are indeed manufactured to crawl over almost anything in their way.

Custom unidan unimog turningWith the ridiculously high ground clearance that portal axles and Michelin 395/85R20 tyres on steel 20-inch Hutchinson rims provide, combined with a flexible chassis, ultra-low-range gearing and a high-torque intercooled turbo-diesel engine, this Unimog mauled rocks and ledges that would see mere Cruisers and Patrols gasping, grinding and failing.

Riding high in the cabin returned a truck-like ride; although, it was quieter and smoother than original (go figure). Dan has higher gearing, via a Claas overdrive, than standard to help with highway cruising speeds and to improve fuel economy.

But still – she’s a truck! The overhead interior instrument layout is more of Dan’s handiwork and houses dual fuel gauges, temp and psi gauges, a winch, two auxiliary batteries, a reversing camera, rock lights, roof lights, LED light bar toggle switches, USB inputs, and extra slots for camper pod-inspired dreams. Aiding in the comfort is a fully adjustable ISRI suspension seat, and keeping the hands less sweaty is a Sparco sports steering wheel.

Unidan unimog hill interiorWhat becomes apparent when watching Dan shuffle through the gears is that it’s a huge step up from driving a regular 4x4, with many extra levers to negotiate, which keeps the driver busy on-road and off-road.

Not happy to settle with standard power outputs, Dan has manufactured his own intercooler, recalibrated the fuel pump and installed a custom 3.5 inch high-flow stainless steel exhaust system to pump those lowly figures from 125kW to 156kW – all without fuel usage sacrifices. Just goes to show; no matter what 4x4 you own and drive, there is always room for power-up improvements.

Custom unidan unimog grill engineTo allow easier access to the engine compartment, Dan has fabricated a removable fibreglass grille, which takes seconds to unclip and to reveal the alloy intercooler and engine.

Dan has incorporated a high-flowing air compressor with four individual air lines enabling all four tyres to be pumped up simultaneously. Each coiled hose is cleverly secured in a tube fitted under the front section of the tray.

Custom unidan unimog sideFor those that already own a Unimog, Dan’s company (Unidan) can refurbish, upgrade or rebuild pretty much anything your hearts desires.

Oh, and if you have drooled enough over this Big Cat masterpiece and have to have it parked in your driveway – it’s on sale for a cool $170,000. For more info on all things Moggy, see

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