In the rapidly developing State of Israel, a new need grew amongst farmers, contractors and field personnel for a rugged and reliable all-terrain vehicle for extreme roads, field work and utility use. The Mercedes Unimog, a 4X4 multi-purpose vehicle was the obvious solution in the field and on the road – a vehicle with the capability to operate different tools, and one which can handle any type of terrain. Depending on configuration, the Unimog can be utilized for agriculture, construction, and mining.
Amichai Harlap imported the first Unimog in 1965 for the copper mines in Timna, and later the Unimog became all the rage in the Kibbutzim (agricultural collectives) and the Moshavim communes, as well as construction sites across Israel. The Unimogs disperse salt and remove snow, and later, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL JNF) bought and outfitted them for firefighting in remote areas.
In the early ‘60s, Amichai Harlap and the Mercedes Benz Company built a successful relationship around importing Mercedes vehicles to Israel. The “Colmobil” name, coined in 1963, was born from a request by Mercedes-Benz to initiate a separate company specifically for bringing Mercedes to Israel. The name “Colmobil” was selected, taken from a small pickup truck that was developed in the ‘50s. Later on, the company added imports of the Mitsubishi and Hyundai brands.
At first, Colmobil only imported Mercedes Benz’s heavy trucks to Israel, for specific clients like "Solel Boneh" and other distribution companies. Later on, Amichai Harlap identified the growing needby bakeries and bread companies for a closed van with greater load space than the Gogomobil. His imported “Colmobil” pickup truck was an open configuration, and the bakeries wanted a closed commercial van for distribution purposes. During that time, private Mercedes Benz automobiles were being imported in small quantities for the elite and wealthy in Israel, yet by the mid ‘60s Colmobil expanded their lines to include the closed vans and private cars. After the 6 Day War, the demand for Mercedes Benz private automobiles and taxis grew, and Colmobil helped their sales rocket.