Just saying hello.
  • I noticed that there was an observation about people joining this forum and then saying and/or doing nothing; point taken.

    My name is Mike Hallett and, though now retired, I used to work for Automotive Technic, the one-time agents for Steyr Daimler Puch in UK, importers of Pinzgauer for the UK military and other customers, and, subsequently, manufacturers in UK of a wide range of Pinzgauer models for UK and world markets once Graz had decided they didn't want to build them any more. Actually, it as more prosaic than that, they needed the manufacturing space for other more rewarding projects and shipped all the Pinzgauer tooling over to us. Well, enough for us to build them from scratch in our plants at Fareham and Guildford.  

    Initially, in 1995 when we were a small company, I had a multi-role task in liaising with the military, driver training, demonstrations, development, spares supplies and general dogsbody.... They were interesting times. We ended up with a lot more people before we took up the role of Pinzgauer manufacturer circa 2000. Before that we were also the official importer of Puch badged G-Wagens, namely the 290GDT G and Super G models. However, that ceased when Mercedes decreed that the Puch badged G-Wagens would be no more - they had previously been sold mainly in Switzerland and some former Eastern bloc countries - and subsequently all markets had Mercedes badged cars.

    Automotive Technik was eventually taken over by the US company Stewart and Stevenson who were subsequently taken over by another US company called Armor Holdings and then they, in turn, were taken over by the US division of BAE. And so we came back to UK ownership. Shortly afterwards, BAE pulled the plug and Pinzgauer manufacture ceased in 2008.

    I know very little about Haflinger, other than I have always been an admirer and got to drive them on occasions; all too rarely. So I'm on a learning curve here.

    Right, that's me done. Hope this meets with the requirement to say something on here.

    Cheers.

  • Hi Mike, Welcome to the Forum, many thanks for your posting, makes very interesting reading. Regards Pete Elliott 
  • Welcome!

    Interesting bit of background history there for the Pinz,  Haflinger's didn't have that sort of luck in having a stay of execution, Actual production appears to have stopped '73 / '74 ish, but you might have found the odd unregistered one after that.

    John
  • Hi Mike - thanks for that very interesting post. One thing that I have often wondered is whether the eventual demise of Pinz production in the UK was driven by the UK armed forces buying other vehicles, or due to the parent company (S&S / AH or BAE) feeling that it no longer fitted in to their product portfolio?

    (I'd love a soft top, flat nosed (i.e. no "bonnet") Pinzgauer, but doubt I'd have room to keep it. And even if I did I be hard pressed to decide between it or an early Unimog :D )
  • Highly specialised vehicles like Pinzgauer rely on military and public utility companies buying sufficient numbers to make them commercially viable. They are also expensive to build and rely on a long reliable service life to give them an attractive whole-life cost. Despite public perceptions, the military do have to justify what they spend. There are also political considerations, which mean armies are under pressure to buy home produced equipment, so other manufacturers get in on the act and further dilute the market. The result is that manufacturing of these vehicles goes in fits and starts with batches being ordered then long quiet periods in between orders. Labour forces get laid off, you lose experienced people, suppliers suffer, quality suffers....Then they order 100 more (hooray!), but that isn't enough to be viable....and so it goes on.

    We were lucky because we had an unbroken line of orders to a number of mainly military customers here in UK and abroad which kept us busy for several years. However, eventually, they came up with an armoured requirement and that was the final nail. We built one, but relatively light vehicles just can't be adequately armoured to the desired level as the gross weight gets to be too much for the running gear and suspension, so things start breaking and reliability, longevity etc. etc goes out the window.

    There is also the problem of trying to meet Construction and Use legislation as emission levels are tightened, crash worthiness levels are raised and that sort of stuff which is very difficult to maintain on a vehicle design which has been in production for several decades. Eventually, you have to draw a line under it, go back to the drawing board and come up with something new that meets the criteria. That takes vast sums of money these days, and the production numbers are never going to be in it to make it worthwhile.

    The trick would be to corner an area of the market - like Unimog, for example, since you mentioned it - but even that has potential competitors nibbling away at its sector, albeit not very effectively.

    You were correct,really, in that the prime customers' requirements changed and they moved on to bigger and heavier vehicles.....the lightweight, routine administrative roles can be handled by off-the-shelf pick trucks and vans. Small manufacturers can't really compete, so certain types of vehicle become commercially non-viable. We all shrug.... and move on, sadly.
  • Hi Mike, thanks for posting, a very interesting insight on producing vehicles for the military, Regards Pete Elliott
  • Mike - very interesting. I suppose the armoured requirement came out of the increased use of IEDs etc; the bulk & weight of some of the new breed of machines is amazing. 

    I used to visit Shoreham airport a lot and drove past the Riccardo facility - some weird and wonderful machines being "militarised" down there during the Iraq War years ...

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