The original prototype was developed around 1969 and production began in 1971, as successor of the Steyr-Daimler-Puch Haflinger 700 AP 4×4 light military multi purpose offroad vehicle. The Pinzgauer first generation model (710, 712) was produced until 2000 by Steyr-Daimler-Puch in the city of Graz, Austria. It was, and is in use in many armies around the world like Austria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Albania, and Bolivia. When Austrian millionaire Mr. Stronach took over the shareholder majority of Steyr-Daimler-Puch offroad vehicles; he gave the right to build the Steyr Pinzgauer to Automotive Technik Ltd (now BAE). As of 2009, in the Graz plant, the Mercedes-Benz G Wagon / Puch G offroad vehicles were being built.
The Pinzgauer is one of the most capable all-terrain vehicles ever made. While not as fast (110 kilometres per hour (68 mph)) as an American Humvee, it can carry more troops. Even the smaller 710M can carry 10 people or two NATO pallets. Both the 4×4 and 6×6 models can tow 5,000 kilograms (11,023 lb) on road; and 1,500 kilograms (3,307 lb) or 1,800 kilograms (3,968 lb), respectively, off-road. It has a range of over 400 kilometres (249 mi) on one tank of fuel, or nearly 700 kilometres (435 mi) with the optional 125 litre tank. The first generation Pinzgauer is available in both four-wheel drive (4×4) (model 710) and six-wheel drive (6×6) (model 712) versions.
The Pinzgauer was designed to be reliable and easy to fix; it is shipped with an air-cooledpetrol engine with dual-Zenith 36 mm NDIX carburetors. The engine in the Pinzgauer was specifically designed for the vehicle; it has more than one oil pump so that the engine will not get starved of oil no matter how the vehicle is oriented.
The Pinzgauer has a chassis design which contributes to its high mobility. It has a central tube chassis with a transaxle which distributes the weight more evenly, and keeps the centre of gravity as low as possible. The differentials are all sealed units and require minimal additional lubrication. The Pinzgauer also has portal axles like the Unimog to provide extra clearance over obstacles. The 710 4×4 was the more popular variant, but the Pinzgauer was designed to have a very capable 6×6 configuration from the start. The rear suspension on the back of the 6×6 712 is designed to provide maximum traction in the most demanding circumstances along with increasing its towing, load carrying, and off-road abilities.
During production from 1971 until 1985, 18,349 first-generation 710s and 712s were produced and sold to both civilian and military customers.
All the first generation Pinzgauers are equipped with:
2.5 litreinline four-cylinderair-cooled engine. An exception was made on certain 712 variants towards the end of production that came with a 2.7-litre air-cooled four-cylinder engine. This was primarily on ambulances.
A popular idea in North America and other countries is to import first generation Pinzgauers for individual use. Any Pinzgauer can be imported but, due to the high cost and the difficulty in certifying them in the USA, the second generation Pinzgauers are very rarely imported there. First generation Pinzgauers are often imported because they are widely available and cheaper. Both Switzerland and Austria have released many 1st generation Pinzgauers into the civilian marketplace; as they converted their fleet to newer trucks. First generation Pinzgauers sold to civilians in Europe are likewise occasionally found and imported to the US.
Vehicles over 25 years old are much easier to import to the USA due to a rolling 25 year exemption to United States Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, and a rolling 21 year exemption for United States Environmental Protection Agency requirements. The first generation Pinzgauers were equipped with typical safety equipment for that era: seat belts, emergency flashers, etc., and have no difficulty meeting US standards for vehicles of that age. In many aspects, the Pinzgauer was better equipped from a safety perspective than many contemporary 4×4s (Jeeps, Land Rovers, etc.) coming from the factory with seat belts, power brakes, integral roll bars, and other safety focused design features. Like most off-road vehicles, the driver has to be aware of the high centre of gravity. As with other 4×4s, it is possible to tip them if driven aggressively or inappropriately.
The first generation trucks are popular with off-roaders worldwide due to their low cost and their ability in off-roading. There are dealers in various countries that import and sell Pinzgauers from both individual sales and government auctions.
Slowly 2nd generation Pinzgauers, the 716 and 718 models, are appearing on the retail market in various states and conditions. The government of Malaysia has retired its Pinzgauer fleet of P90 and P93, which vary in date of manufacture from 1996 to as late as 1998. UK army surplus vehicles tend to be in poor condition, most having served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Good vehicles are quickly bought by collectors and a small number may be turned into self-contained expedition vehicles, the Pinzgauer being one of the very few vehicles of its size that can successfully be made 'self-contained' due to its forward control cab and large load area.[original research?]
The four-wheel drive (4×4) model is now called a 716, and the six-wheel drive (6×6) model is now called a 718. The same letter body type designations apply. The new 716 has the same payload rating as the old 712, and the new 718 also has a similarly higher payload capacity.
There were a few minor changes to the design of the Pinzgauer II:
The Pinzgauer is increasingly replacing the Land Rover Defender in the military utility vehicle role; despite its high cost of upwards of US$100,000 per unit. Pinzgauer (or Pinz as it is known to most British soldiers) is more common as a utility vehicle in Royal Artillery units due to its employment as a light gun tractor. A new armoured version called the "Vector" entered service in the British Army in early 2007, as part of an effort to provide safer patrol vehicles for troops in Afghanistan. The 6×6 Vector PPV (Protected Patrol Vehicle), will according to the manufacturer, "Build on the existing proven design, with enhancements that will include a combination of physical protection, as well as the use of sophisticated electronic counter measures to maximise survivability while on patrol". However, the Vector PPV was found to have unreliable suspension and wheel hubs as well as poor protection against improvised explosive devices. It quickly lost the confidence of field commanders and was withdrawn from service. The Pinzgauer is also the basis for the Tactical Ground Station (TGS) element of the Raytheon Systems Limited Airborne Standoff Radar (ASTOR). The TGS comprises two workstation vehicles, a mission support vehicle, and a standard utility vehicle.
Many Pinzgauers were sold to military forces (initially Austrian and Swiss) to be used as non-tactical utility vehicles. Typical military roles are as general-purpose utility truck, command vehicles, troop carrier, ambulance, and tow vehicle. Roles very similar to other civilian sourced vehicles like Land Rover in the UK, the Blazer CUCV in the US, and the Mercedes G in many European countries.
The New Zealand Army has purchased 321 Pinzgauer vehicles in 8 variants to fulfill the Light Operational Vehicle (LOV) role.
The Malaysian Army purchased 168 2 Ton 4×4 716 Gun Tractors and 164 2 Ton 6×6 718 Mortar Transporters to replace older Volvo C303 and C304 in their inventories. It is affectionately called "Piglet" due to its design.
The Pinzgauer was also marketed to the civilian marketplace worldwide for use as campers, farm trucks, ambulances, fire-trucks, and rescue vehicles. Likewise, many ended up being used as tourist vans due to their large passenger capacity and stable, reliable platform. Pinzgauers have been used as tourist transports in Africa, Australia, South America, Hawaii, and other exotic locales. Some are still in use today. Pinzgauers were also marketed to- and used extensively by energy companies for oil exploration purposes. A few Pinzgauers were used for off-road racing, including the famous Paris to Dakar Rally and the International Rainforest Challenge in Malaysia.