Tonka Toys are an almost universal part of a boyhood toy collection. Many a mother chided her young son on coming in from the yard caked in dirt and dusty with jeans and overalls worn thin from pushing around the trucks on his knees for hours on end. But Motor Trend's Jonny Lieberman lives his boyhood dreams in larger-than-life fashion by driving the closest thing to a real-world Tonka truck, the Mercedes-Benz Unimog, at the company's official test facility for its go-anywhere beast.
We can assure you what you see below will stretch what your imagination tells you should be possible in an earth-bound vehicle, certainly not from a standpoint of sheer speed, as Lieberman lays out in the introduction. But if your definition of performance includes approach, departure and incline angles, crawl ratios, and axle articulation, the 'Mog is nearly without peer.
Lieberman looks at the origins of the Unimog, from the original model that debuted in 1947, laying the framework and fundamentals of the platform, including portal axles and multiple forward and reverse speeds. But as cool as the museum pieces that Lieberman drove were, none was as cool as actually getting behind the wheel of some modern examples and slogging them through the obstacles at Unimog headquarters in Gaggenau, Germany. Check out this video to see what these awesome trucks are capable of!