Swedish Unimog: 1979 Volvo Laplander

While it’s easy to think that the domestic Hummer brand or Mercedes’ Unimog contraptions were the only players in the military-rigs-for-the-street market, Volvo was no stranger to the off-road game as this nicely preserved Laplander shows. Otherwise known as the Volvo L3314, the Laplander seen here on craigslist bears a clean Washington State title and is ready for highway and off-road use. The asking price is $16K, far cheaper than a restored ‘Mog. 

To me, that’s the beauty in choosing the red-headed stepchild of a certain type of vehicle. Instead of buying a used Porsche 993, why not a TVR from the same era? Or in the current marketplace, why pony up for a Lexus LS-series when a sedan from Hyundai’s Genesis group will work just fine for half the price? That’s what strikes me as I read about the Laplander’s impressive off-road credentials and realistic asking prices.

The Laplander hasn’t necessarily been restored, but it’s had some money thrown at it over the last few years. The engine and front/rear differentials have been rebuilt, as have the transmission and transfer cases. New tires, clutch, interior, and paint all await the next owner and are costs they won’t have to make. I’m shocked that the seller went to the lengths they did considering these aren’t nearly as a hot as comparable Unimogs, but perhaps the Volvo was a used-up military vehicle when they got their hands on it.

The Laplander features a removable hardtop, exposing the jump seats in the rear. Although it’s mildly insulting not to use this Volvo in some sort of a daily combat or reconnaissance mission, the improvements made by the seller absolutely broaden the appeal of a rig like this – especially as the well-heeled set increasingly migrate to vintage SUVs and pickups that look good parked outside of a ranch or trendy bar. This seems like a fair deal all around, and the seller is open to best offers.

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  1. Rusty

    Cool, but someone else thought so too. Gone!

  2. John P

    …the reasons NOT to buy the “comparable red-headed stepchild” are numerous.. although cute in this case-there are reasons why there’s not a following of these when compared to Unimogs or Land Rover Defenders or Jeeps, etc… either parts aren’t easy to find-or they’re not reliable-or they’re not capable 4×4’s. Also-anyone who thinks buying a Hyundai Genesis is a good idea against a Lexus-well, that’s apples and oranges for sure. Although some vehicles are in the same “class”, they’ll never be in the same class regarding reliability, resale, ore aesthetics. I think this awkward Volvo is a proving point of all of that.

    • Tim Ingles

      How many unreliable Volvos have you come across ? As I recall they have Jeep axles , perhaps that was the unreliable part !!

    • local_sheriff

      John P; I can assure you that the Volvo will match or beat a Land Rover or Wrangler on the trail any day in stock shape.The last two are much better on road vehicles though.

      Comparing the Volvo to a Unimog is completely unfair however.Anyone who knows the history behind the ‘mog knows it was developed as an agricultural tractor that also ‘could’ be driven on road.Hence the name Unimog, short for Universales Motorgerät, translating into Universal Enginepowered Apparatus.They were primarily designed with farming in mind ,many came with PTO and tow bars for towing plows etc or serve as stationary engines.

      If we want an unfair comparison,there is still a Volvo that will beat the Unimog on the trail LONG TIME.Volvo BV202, the Laplander/Felt/Valp’s remote cousin, will go anywhere that a soldier will, then some.It will run over the snow without digging in and it’s also amphibious…

    • Rolf K

      You are wrong, its easy to find parts and it is very reliable. About parts, you have more parts than any Land Rover. Parts still in production. John P so you are totally wrong.

  3. hazpoco

    Amazing price! Somebody got lucky.

  4. local_sheriff

    These are outstanding offroad vehicles, not so good for the road. Drove several of these when I attended lower officer academy, the high point of gravity and sloppy steering sure made them less suitable for highway speeds and a scary ride!Wasn’t such a problem, as the tiny B18 wouldn’t let it reach such speeds…

    I realize seller has done much work to this Valp, but I hope for the new owner he didn’t pay the asking 16K for it.Military surplus low milage examples have changed hands for 2.5to 4K in Scandinavia a couple of decades now

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