[For those of you following along, this might give you a hint as to my next project :)]
From the beginning of rearmament in the early 1930s, the Wehrmacht was keenly aware of the importance of mechanized units and of the need for reliable transport vehicles. Many different types were developed and tested but it soon became apparent that more efficient production was needed. The Schnell Program of 1940 standardized the production of wheeled vehicles for the Wehrmacht by reducing the number of truck- and passenger-type vehicles by two-thirds and by standardizing production into distinct classes of 1, 1.5, 3, 4.5, and 6.5 tons.
One of the vehicles from the 1.5 ton class chosen for production was the Steyr 1500A. With its air-cooled 3.5 liter V8 engine and four-wheeled drive, the vehicle proved to be both rugged and reliable. The engine generated 85 horsepower and had an on-road top speed of 100km/hr. The body had a distinctive rounded hood and front guard and a front torsion bar and rear leaf spring suspension. The large ground clearance, a wading depth of 70 cm, and the air-cooling made the Steyr ideal for cross-country purposes.
The Steyr 1500A was produced in three main variants. The basic Steyr 1500 was a light duty pick-up truck. The 1500A/01 was a personnel transport for up to eight people and the 1500A/02 (Kommandeurwagen Kfz.21) was a luxurious, spacious command vehicle equipped with leather seats for five and a front seat that could be folded down into a bed. Many other variants were developed and refitted with different bodies for use as field ambulances, radio trucks, repair wagons, artillery tow vehicles, and field kitchens.
The Steyr was initially produced in Austria with 12,450 vehicles manufactured there between 1941 and 1944. An additional 5,600 units were produced in Germany by Auto-Union’s Wanderer factory at Sigmar and by Audi at Zwickau. The Steyr 1500A/01 with internal spare wheel was manufactured from September 1941 to around August 1942. Around August 1942, the superstructure was changed and the location of the spare wheel was moved outside of the car body. This model was manufactured until March 1944. Towards the end of the war some were produced with bulletproof windows and reinforced steel plates in the doors. Production ended with the bombing of the factories.
The Steyr 1500A was seen in every theater of war from the Balkans and Russia to North Africa and served in all Wehrmacht, SS, and Luftwaffe communications units until the end of the war. The Steyr rose to prominence in Tunisia where it was highly regarded for its reliable engine and performance and mobility.