Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Pinzgauer maker heading back to UK ownership

More on the Pinzgauer - news in the last few days that BAE Systems has agreed to take over the US company Armor Holdings, the ultimate owners of Pinzgauer, the UK-based manufacturer of the highly agile off-road vehicles of the same name.

The Pinzgauer was originally designed and then developed over several decades by the Austrian off-road specialists Steyr-Daimler-Puch. Production was transferred to a small British company, Automotive Technik, a few years back, after the British Ministry of Defence became the biggest Pinzgauer customer, and Steyr-Daimler-Puch was taken over by Magna and concentrated on contract manufacture of mainstream cars for other manufacturers (for example, diesel and RHD Chryslers and Jeeps).

Automotive Technik was taken over by the US military vehicle specialist Stewart and Stevenson, which was itself then taken over by Armor Holdings, although production remained in the UK throughout. Now Armor is being acquired by BAE.

I've never actually driven a Pinzgauer but on a visit to the Defence School of Transport in Yorkshire a few years ago, I had the chance to travel in one as the passenger of an instructor from the Royal Marines, who showed me what it could do over some of the DST's hairer off-road obstacles. It really is staggeringly good - the nearest thing there is to a mountain goat on wheels.

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