Pinzgauer History

The Pinzgauer is produced by the Austrian firm of Steyr-Daimler-Puch and began production in 1968.  The majority of the Pinzgauers released from the Swiss Army are in exceptionally good condition for their age and indeed some have been known to have had new replacement engines or gearboxes and bodies.

Visually the Pinzgauer has exceptional lines, but this beauty is not only skin deep, and taking a look under this beast you’ll see plenty to help you when the going really gets tough.  For a start, forget the conventional 4×4 ladder-frame chassis, there isn’t one, simply a huge backbone tube structure on which the swinging arms are attached.  There is independent coil spring suspension all around with twin springs on the rear, steel axle articulation limit restrictors, internal water resistant disc brake transmission hand brake, portal axles (this gives inches more ground clearance), 16.5, of under differential ground clearance, and perhaps most importantly in the armoury of off-road goodies front and rear cross axle differential locks.  Fording depth is a useful 27.6″ without any need for wading plugs.  The only universal joint is on the short exposed transfer box prop-shaft, all other drive joints and shafts are internal in the backbone tube structure and all are self lubricating.

Well don’t even bother comparing the Pinzgauer with a Land Rover, these machines were three times the cost of a Land Rover 110 when new. So design, build quality and engineering far surpass the Land Rover product.  Remember the Pinzgauer was conceived with world sales being 99% military market, so cost didn’t really come into the equation, it was designed by a company renowned for its prowess in the design and manufacture of specialized 4×4 applications.

From the buyers point of view, you get a tremendous amount of machinery for your money and a vehicle, which in civilian hands, has a multitude of uses.

What about size and weight?  Well the wheelbase is 86.6″, turning circle is 31.20″ and the complete machine has a dead weight of 4299 lbs.  Basically not a lot larger than a 90, however, inside there is loads of room.  The forward control configuration provides driver and passenger seats with the engine mounted in between with useful storage locker and map tray, with a low bulkhead behind and in the rear a set of five a-side inward facing bench seats, which fold down when not in use and provide a totally flat load space capable of carrying two European standard pallets, so you’re looking at internal space comparable  with a LWB Transit van.  Therefore, you can carry twelve persons or a load of camping equipment or off-road gear.

The heart of the Pinzgauer is a rather special 2.5 litre four cylinder 90bhp air cooled petrol engine.  This engine was designed by Steyr-Puch especially for the Pinzgauer.  It is an all alloy unit with cast iron cylinder liners and designed to run on the lowest octane fuel available.  The engine is mounted high above the front axle with the

inlet manifold at the top and exhaust manifold at the bottom, the sump to the side.  There are two oil pumps to ensure adequate oil circulation at any angle of inclination and twin down draft 32ndix Zenith carbs to get the fuel in quickly when needed.  Expect to gain about 16-18 mpg or general use and when towing accordingly less in direct proportion to the load.  Experience has proved that even with trailers up to 7,000 lbs fuel consumption levels never droped below 13mpg.  Manufacturers rate the Pinzgauer at 5 ton braked trailer payload.

The tow hitch is of the NATO type and attaches direct to the central “backbone” tube of the drivetrain assembly.  Towing with the Pinzgauer is very positive and trailers tend to “follow” well without “rock and roll” of the tow vehicle.  Air cooling means no radiator to freeze or damage when wading in deep water and the electrical system is a totally water proofed 24 volt system.  The gearbox is a five speed ZF unit, fully synchronized, with transfer box and the whole system is set up so you can change from high to low range and vice-versa without stopping to make the selection, so ten forward and two reverse gears all available on the move.

The machine drives on-road with rear axle drive, four-wheel-drive is engaged by selecting a dashboard mounted lever which hydraulically engages the front axle, and the differential locks are also available for front and rear axle independently engaged via the same hydraulic method, and all available on the move without the need to stop or de-clutch.

The cabin is comfortable and well laid out with all controls easy to reach.  A nice touch is the drivers left foot rest and the well fitting windows and satisfying clunk of the doors on closure, this is a well thought out and designed product.

In 1971, a new vehicle was introduced called the Pinzgauer.  The Pinzgauer vehicle is unique with its light weight at 4300 lbs and yet can carry a payload of 2200 lbs with the 710 models and an empty weight of 5291 lbs and a payload of 3307 lbs for the 712 models.  Its proper title from the user manual is a “Light Cross Country Vehicle”.  The engine was an air cooled 2499cc inline 4 cylinder with the cylinders sitting horizontally.  The two Zenith dual carburetors are still used in racing cars since they will operate in odd angles or with high side G forces.  The exhaust goes through a dual heat exchanger to provide cabin heat and then into a large diameter muffler.  This allows high ground clearance.  The axles swing independently out of a central heavy cast steel tube that acts as a frame and protects the front and rear drive shaft.  This is very expensive to build, but is very sophisticated.  There are no swing arms or braces to the axle as one would expect to find, just the independent axle on each side.  The four wheel drive version, the 710M, has coil springs all the way around.  The 6 wheel drive version, the 712M, has leaf springs in the rear for added weight capacity.  Most of them are hard sided bus like and fully enclosed and make for good motor homes and specialty vehicles like mobile medical facilities.  In the past many were also used as tour vehicles in Australia.

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