For some, the Unimog is the pinnacle of overlanding utility. But even with online auctions, Unimogs aren’t always easy to find or inexpensive to buy. Luckily, several alternatives offer the same kind of capability but at more reasonable prices. And one of them, the Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer, has the seal of approval of famed auto executive Bob Lutz.
The Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer: when a Humvee is too ho-hum
Not everyone is familiar with the Steyr-Puch name, but the Austrian firm (now called Magna-Steyr) is responsible for several iconic off-roaders.
Steyr-Puch developed the original Mercedes G-Wagon, for example, and still assembles the modern version. It also helped create the Fiat Panda 4×4, the Volkswagen T3 Syncro, and the AWD system for the Pontiac Aztek, Hagerty reports. And Steyr-Puch is responsible for several military vehicles, too, including the Pinzgauer.
Steyr-Puch created the Pinzgauer as a replacement for the smaller Halflinger, Road & Track explains. Both vehicles are named after breeds of Austrian horses. The Pinzgauer’s namesake is known for its terrain-crossing and farm-working abilities, Silodrome and Car and Driver report. And when it comes to its hauling and off-roading capabilities, the mechanical Pinzgauer delivers.
Available in both 4×4 and 6×6, the first-gen Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer used a 2.5-liter air-cooled flat-four engine. With 87 hp and 133 lb-ft of torque, a first-gen model tops out at 68 mph, with a cruising speed closer to 60 mph, the Lane Motor Museum reports. And while the second-gen Pinzgauers use Volkswagen turbodiesel engines, they’re not exactly highway vehicles.
Instead, the Pinzgauer shines brightest when the pavement ends. A 4×4 710 model can carry up to 2200 pounds, the New York Times reports, and tow 3300 pounds while off-roading. Going back onto pavement raises the towing capacity to over 11,000 pounds, as much as the Rivian R1T.
Plus, the Pinzgauer can stand up to a modern G-Class when it comes to off-road specs. The military truck has portal axles, fully-independent suspension, and a two-speed transfer case. Fully-loaded, a 4×4 Pinzgauer has over a foot of ground clearance, Silodrome notes, a 27.6” fording depth, as well as approach and departure angles of 38° and 45°, respectively. And, just like the G-Wagen, it has three locking differentials, Bring a Trailer reports.
You can own Bob Lutz’s Pinzgauer
Over the years, the Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer has found its way into both military and civilian hands. Natalie Portman’s character Jane drove one in the first Thor movie, Mecum notes. And several celebrities own them in real life, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Top Gear reports.
Automotive and motorcycle executive Bob Lutz also owns a Pinzgauer, a 1973 710M—or rather, owned. Because as of this writing, it’s up for sale on Bring a Trailer.
As the BaT listing explains, Bob Lutz bought this 1973 Pinzgauer 710M in 1991 and subsequently imported it to the US. He refurbished it in 2005 with a new coat of paint and a new canvas roof. And in 2015 he replaced the batteries and overhauled the electrical system, including the alternator.
Being an ex-Swiss-military 4×4 710M, Bob Lutz’s Pinzgauer can seat up to 10 people. And in addition to the previously-mentioned off-road features, it has under-bed storage lockers, wooden side rails, and a steel cage for the front occupants. Amenities are admittedly fairly slim. However, this 710M does have sun visors, a blower fan, sliding side windows, a spare wheel, and a European-style tow hook.
On a recent episode of the Bring a Trailer podcast, Bob Lutz explained that while many military vehicles “looked impressive, they weren’t really very effective in rugged terrain. Especially the Hummer—it was much too wide and much too low and it didn’t have hub reduction.” So he got a European off-road vehicle instead. And he’s used it for a variety of off-road escapades over the years.
Looking for an off-roading or overlanding truck on a budget? Take Jane’s van from Thor
As of this writing, Bob Lutz’s 1973 Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer 710M is listed on BaT at $20,250 with less than a day left in the auction. So, if you want his specific truck, you’ll have to act quickly.
Luckily, Pinzgauers and their spare parts have become easier to obtain thanks to importers like Swiss Army Vehicles. And compared to Unimogs, they’re relatively affordable. Although 6×6 versions carry a premium, most 4×4 models sell for $15,000-$25,000 on BaT. And with a few modifications, such as a heater and a kitchen, they should make for good overlanding vehicles.
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