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The Volkswagen Amarok pickup truck goes special ops


June 13, 2012

The Volkswagen Amarok prepares for battle (Photo: Rheinmettal AG)

The Volkswagen Amarok prepares for battle (Photo: Rheinmettal AG)

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For a company that was created at the command of the most notorious, brutal figures in modern history, Volkswagen and its historical stable of cute cars like the Beetle has developed the cuddliest, feel goodiest persona. You could literally hug cars like the Beetle or Golf and not look (completely) strange. But not the new Amarok M. This military-grade truck decked out in heavy-duty accoutrements shows another side of VW, a side that can give children nightmares with its full name alone: Rheinmetall Amarok M Light Multi-Purpose Vehicle.

The Amarok is a small Volkswagen pickup truck sold in Europe, Australia and other markets around the world. Rheinmetall Defence, the German military outfitter behind the Amarok M, says that the upgraded truck is built for on- and off-road mobility, flexibility and reliability, with an underlying focus on special operations. The model is equipped with all-wheel drive, an off-road anti-blocking system, choice of diesel or gasoline engine, and eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. It packs up to 180 hp and is capable of speeds up to 111 mph (180 km/h).

Rheinmetall says the Amarok M can carry a payload up to 1.5 tons (1.37 tonnes) and can be outfitted with specific kits to support different types of missions. It can transport up to four fully-equipped soldiers and offers room for stowing equipment. Other military-spec equipment includes rifle racks, a radio communications system and an electrically powered ring mount for affixing a machine gun or grenade launcher.

In short, Rheinmetall's conversion transforms a rather meek small pickup truck into a fearsome machine of destruction and conquest. The company envisions the light-duty truck being used as anything from a military police patrol truck to a command and communications vehicle.

Rheinmetall introduced the Amarok M at the Eurosatory show in Paris this week. The light vehicle was showcased with a variety of other equipment, including new 120 mm tank ammunition, the Boxer combat vehicle and air defense technologies.

Source: Rheinmetall Defence

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

I have driven VW's before, and like the durability of the ones I have used. I would be interested in more info. I need a pick up to hunt, fish, pull my boat, and recycle, carry materials. I have been looking mostly at the Ford ranger, extender cab, with 6 foot bed and 4X4. I would like to be able to compare facts and figures. Is this vehicle available for use in the US?


The author gives the imprssion that VW has not made military vehicles after WW II. This is not entirely true. The Volkswagen Type 181 (better known as "The Thing" in the US) was the standard "jeep" type general purpose vehicle for the Federal German Army during the 70's. In the late 70's the 181 was replaced by the VW "Iltis" (Polecat), a 4x4 light vehicle. VW Transporters and Buses are widely deployed within German Army, preferably in 4x4 syncro version. Actually, I can't see the special military value of the Rheinmetall Amarok. All field vehicles of the German Army have been painted in camouflage paint, featured rifle and equipment holders - and even the lousy Mercedes 1017 MK truck I drove during my time on service in the 80's had a round lid in the roof for a machine gun shooter.

Another link to the past: The Volkswagen factory at Wolfsburg/Lower Saxony, Germany was built on order by Adolf Hitler. The technical director of this factory was Ferry Porsche, a well renowned automotive engineer. Porsche did not only design the Volkswagen Beetle, he also developed race cars and tanks. After WW II, Porsche started his own sports car production site - and an engineering bureau. In this bureau not only the engine of the Harley Davidson V-Rod was designed, but also military developments took place. Porsche Engineering played a major role in developing the first Leopard Tank in the late 50's

The ambivalent role of Ferry Porsche can be compared with the role of Wernher v. Braun. Both without any doubt gathered lots of scientific and technical merits, but both also have to be held responsible for supporting the Nazi regime and exploiting imprisioned people and slave workers.

Frank Kemper
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