The Unimog by Mercedes-Benz--the classic go-anywhere vehicle that debuted after World War II--has been everything from a military unit, to a farm tractor, to a Funmog, the black-and-chrome discomobile that was a 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 a relatively badass suspension system. But the latest iteration announced this week by the German auto manufacturer takes a small slide into the ridiculous: the Expedition Camper Concept, which affords consumers a sublime off-roading experience--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: The exterior features something called a thermal bridge-free fiberglass-reinforced plastic body with a 2mm-thick fabric-reinforced outer layer; inside there’s a two-burner stove, a fridge, satellite TV and a DVD player, and a seriously cozy-looking bed. As Mercedes helpfully points out, “Should it--in the very unlikely event--get stuck, the Unimog can use its hydraulic seven-ton front winch to pull itself out of the quagmire with its ‘own hair’ à la Baron Munchausen.”
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 accompany the release -- the painted-on compass conveniently indicating that south is the ground 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.