Haflinger, small but brave

ER Classics Desktop 2022

“The Haflinger is a popular horse that stands out for its chestnut color with a light flax-colored mane and tail. With his small height, he falls in size among the ponies, but is still a horse breed. It is a versatile horse that puts its best foot forward in almost all forms of equestrian sport ”. Personally, I don't like horses much ...

From horse to 4WD

And that inspired the people of Steyr Puch to call their brave little all-rounder so to speak. And that Haflinger is a box of about 3,5 m long and 1,5 m wide. The small 4WD allroad is powered by an air-cooled 643 cc boxertwin. The little thing weighs around 600 kilos and has a max. Load capacity of 600 kilos. And at top speed, he strolls around a kilometer or 70 per hour.

A new peace, a new start

After World War II, the reborn Austrian Army was equipped with the dump stocks of US Army Willys MB and Ford GPW Jeeps. About ten years after peace broke out, the Austrian army considered ditching those aging Jeeps in favor of something more contemporary. And that should preferably be locally designed and produced. Erich Ledwinka (son of the legendary Tatra designer and father of the Volkswagen Beetle Hans Ledwinka) was hired by the Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch to produce prototypes for that idea and test them in practice. The technical similarities with the grown-up, super off-road, four-wheel drive Tatra trucks were clear, even the little Austrians have been referred to as 'The Baby Tatras'.

Also interesting:

After the design of the production model was completed, the Haflingers were manufactured between 1959 and 1975 and exported all over the world. The manufacturer has referred to the Haflinger in the brochures as “Type of multifunctional passenger vehicle”. In total, more than 16.500 Haflingers were made. They ended up with various armies, but also with municipal services. And with private individuals.

Characteristics of the Haflinger

  • The special features that contribute to the extreme off-road options include:
  • Exceptionally low center of gravity due to the low placement of the chassis and the lack of construction above the waist
  • Generous approach and departure angles for the steepest slopes
  • By using both front and rear locking bars, the vehicle can continue to crawl and scramble, even if only one wheel makes firm contact with the ground.
  • The 'portal' type design of the front and rear axles means that the center of the axle is above the center of the wheel, increasing ground clearance below the axle without increasing wheel diameter. Power is transferred from the axle to the wheel via a gear train in each wheel hub.
  • The suspension is completely independent, both front and rear, with each half-axle having approximately 25 cm of free play.

Most did not wear uniforms

Most of the Haflingers have come directly into the hands of private owners around the world, while a number were also placed in municipal, ambulance and fire services. And of course the Haflinger was also sold to armies. Like its predecessor, the US Army Jeep, Haflingers can be used both off-road and on the paved road. They are legal for road use throughout Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. But to get on the highway with it? Then stick to the verge as a roadway.

The export success of the Haflinger

During their 16-year production period they have been sold in Austria and exported to thirty-five other countries. The first copies to be used in the United States arrived in 1960. In 1983 one was driven from Vermont to California, while Austrian travel journalist Ernst Wiese described in his book 10.000 Miles Through Arabia his four-month journey back from Vienna to the southern tip. from the Arabian Peninsula. Thanks to its multifunctional capabilities, it was described as a car, a truck and the “Austrian Jeep”. And you could lift it up with four sturdy guys and put it aside.

Multiple versions

The Haflinger comes in a number of versions, including one on caterpillar tracks for very cold winters and a version with a plastic cabin. But Haflingers also proved usable outside our atmosphere. In the legendary science-fiction series 'Doctor Who', Haflingers were deployed in 1971 in the episode Colony in Space.

The remaining copies on earth now belong to enthusiasts who are usually also parts collectors.

Also available as a full truck


Leave a Reply
  1. I think the Haflingefs sold by Englebert all went through Hocke Grootbijgaarden because Englebert had a fight with Steyr Puch Graz. HOCKE sold 37 of these vehicles, 11 of which were exported to the Congo.

  2. A colleague had such a thing, fantastic what he was doing with it.
    The shortest way from A to B was a straight line in his opinion and the Haflinger did not care about the intervening ditches and so ...

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