The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville is home to over 400 vehicles, many of which are on display in its 40,000 square foot display floor. The nonprofit museum is located in a former Sunbeam Bread factory and is one of the few U.S. museums to specialize in European cars.
Founder Jeff Lane wants to build a collection that features technically significant or uniquely different vehicles and there’s a goal of maintaining all vehicles in running order. Many of those vehicles have a military background and here are 10 of the most interesting examples.
The museum offers a $3 discount off Adult ticket prices for military members with ID and will allow them to use that discount for up to 3 more adults in their group (4 total).
1. AMC M422 Mighty Mite – 1960
The M422 “Mighty Mite” was built by AMC as a light weight truck for “vertical envelopment operations,” i.e. parachuting, for the U.S. Marines. An aluminum body helps keep the weight down to 1,700 pounds. The truck came in three models: the M422, M422a1, and M422a2. The M422ai has a 71″ wheelbase. It is 6 inches longer and 80 pounds heavier than the M422. The a1 uses the spare tire and windshield from the M38a1. Designed as a combat vehicle suitable for airlifting and manhandling, it can operate on all kinds of terrain. This vehicle has a fording depth of 21 inches, although it can drive in water up to 60 inches with a special kit. The suspension is mounted in a unique way which virtually eliminates roll-overs. The Mighty Mite was designed to carry a payload of 850 pounds while towing another 1,000 pounds on a trailer.
2. DKW Munga – 1958
After WWII, the German government sponsored a competition between Borgward, Porsche, and DKW to find a suitable military replacement for the Land Rovers they had used before the war. DKW got the order, having the only factory with the capacity to fulfill it! The Munga was born, although the name did not yet exist until 1962. The word “munga“ comes from the German phrase: mehrzweck universal geländewagen mit allradantrieb, which translated means: multi purpose universal cross-country car with all-wheel drive. Besides the Munga 4 (which held four passengers–two seats in the rear), there was later the Munga 6 (which held six passengers–two two-person benches on each side of the rear) and the Munga 8 (which held eight passengers–two three-person benches on each side of the rear). Technically speaking, all Mungas were identical with the exception of the rear seat. In addition to its duties with the German Federal Armed Forces, the Munga was also used by fire brigades, emergency services, and the forestry administration.
3. Steyr Puch Pinzgauer – 1974
The Haflinger was replaced by the larger Pinzgauer. It came in 6×6 or 4×4 forms–which you see here. The ground clearance is 13 inches when loaded. It will carry ten soldiers or the rear seats fold down flat for cargo. The cloth top, roll bars, and stays remove quickly to turn the vehicle into a pickup. The front windshield folds down and the door windows remove. The maximum cargo weight is 1.1 tons which is amazing for a 4300 pound vehicle. There is a metal toolbox, a mounted shovel, and a can to carry additional gas. The axe is mounted below the passenger’s legs. Two rifle mounts attach to the passenger grab bar. A “blackout” masked headlight is mounted in the front grille. A metal screen with door is mounted behind the driver to keep flying objects from hitting the driver. The Pinzgauer gets its name from a strong, popular Austrian workhorse.
4. Croco – 1983
The Croco was designed for extreme off-road situations. It articulates in the middle, it is amphibious, and it can climb and descend almost any hill you are willing to try. The Tag Group hoped the military would be interested in this vehicle as it can be moved with a helicopter. Tag also hoped to sell the Croco to oil and gas exploration teams. The Croco is powered by a single rotor Wankel engine that drives all four wheels. The wheels also provide propulsion in the water.
5. Mercedes-Benz Unimog – 1962
One of the oldest and most famous names in automobile history is Mercedes. The company began building cars in 1901. Daimler-Benz factories suffered greatly during World War II, but their recovery after the war was dramatic. The company focused on building delivery vans, pick-up trucks, and ambulances. The first post-war passenger cars were produced in 1947, and they returned to the luxury market in 1951. The Unimog was developed as a farm tractor and produce-hauler but with military potential in mind. Production began in 1949. The name “Unimog” was taken from the concept of a “universal-motor-gerät”, or a universal motor equipment. The name, like the concept, has retained its validity to this day; however the unique design of the Unimog, with its wide range of operational uses, continues to have much development potential. (Mercedes-Benz still produces a vehicle called the Unimog, but its appearance is far different).
6. LARC-LX – 1959
An example of the U.S. military’s largest amphibious craft, the LARC-LX (lighter, amphibious, resupply, cargo) came in three sizes, ranging in size from 5 ton (LARC v) to the LX, capable of transporting 60 tons from ocean to inland, across heavy seas and up inclines as steep as 60 degrees. It remains the only amphibian in the current inventory able to enter and exit the shore through breaking surf. Outfitted with 4 Detroit Diesel engines, twin props, and four wheel drive with two or four wheel steering, the LARC-LX could go just about anywhere and carry whatever could fit in its cavernous cargo bay. The only real limitation was its immense size – length is over 62′, width is 26′, and height is almost 20′! The tires are 9′ high. With a 75′ turning radius, the LARC is surprisingly agile, and this particular example was driven here in January 2005 from the Port of Nashville.
7. Faun Kraka – 1974
This company is better known for its commercial vehicles which have been made from 1918 to the present day. In recent years, they have concentrated on ultra-large, off-road dump trucks. Production of the Kraka began in 1962 with the idea that it would be suited for cross-country or forestry workers. While these clients showed little interest, it found a home with the German Federal Armed Forces. In 1965, German airborne airmobile forces were supplied fifty vehicles for test purposes, and after substantial improvement in 1974, the Bundeswehr purchased 860 Kraka for the 1.LL Division. The Kraka was designed to be folded in half for easy storage or dropped by parachute into battle. The tires are specially developed low pressure tires, size 22×12, bullet proof lypsoid tires. The Kraka can be fitted with various armaments, including anti-tank missiles and rifles. It has three seats, can carry a 3/4 ton payload, is 9’1″ long (5’8″ folded), 4’4″ high (2’8″ folded) and 4’9″ wide.
8. Tatra T-805 – 1955
The 800 series produced by Tatra is a designation for “special purpose vehicles.” The 800 series was sold to the military and the construction industry. There were many versions–dump trucks, troop carriers, and vans (usually called caravans in Europe). The T-800 uses the same engine as the T-603 car. This is not a vehicle for the casual driver. Performance is sluggish at best. As the driver sits right next to the engine, the heat and noise are appalling. Turning the steering wheel alone is a real workout!
9. Steyr Puch Haflinger – 1968
The history of Steyr dates back to 1820 and the manufacturing of sporting and military rifles. Hence, the concentric circle of the Steyr badge represents a target. The terms of the Versailles Treaty after WWII took away all Steyr’s business except for bicycles. They soon decided to enter the car business. Their first car went into production in 1920, and their last car was produced until 1977. Their history includes associations with Daimler, Porsche, and FIAT, among others. The Haflinger is a light 4×4 all-terrain vehicle. Though cars are no longer made, Steyr is very active in the commercial vehicle field and is today best known for commercial and military vehicles. Steyr is a contract builder of the G series of 4×4 vehicles for Mercedes-Benz. The Haflinger gets its name from a breed of robust mountain pony of Austria.
10. Tempo G1200 – 1937
The first vehicles produced by Vidal under the Tempo name were 3-wheeled delivery vans, starting in 1926. By 1933, the company was producing a 2-seater passenger model powered by a 200cc single-cylinder engine. Later, a successful range of combination cars for passengers or goods were made. Four-wheelers were introduced in 1936. Before you is an example of their most unusual design–the twin engined G1200. It has a 600cc engine at the front and back of the chassis. Each drives an axle and offers 4-wheel steering. This model was made mostly for military purposes. After World War II, Tempo never returned to making passenger cars. They made vans until 1956. In 1970, the company became part of Daimler-Benz and vans of Tempo shape were made under the Mercedes name until 1977.