The East End of Long Island is surrounded by beaches. The south faces the Atlantic Ocean, and the north faces a series of bays and the Long Island Sound. It’s of the few locales that permits 4×4 driving on the beach: With a special permit, you’re able to drive (at your own risk!) on many of the East End beaches. I emphasize “at your own risk” — because, over this summer, I’ve witnessed many a partially buried Wrangler Unlimited. Beach driving is a privilege that requires knowledge and skill — in addition to the fact that in the Hamptons, a shovel costs roughly $250 and the tide will come in by the time you actually get it and return to your stuck car. See the Mercedes-Benz models for sale near you
For the past two years I’ve seen a Mercedes-Benz Unimog, an off-road German military vehicle, rumble down the quaint main drag of the moneyed enclave of East Hampton. To further my amazement and amusement, this Unimog is emblazoned with banners advertising FreshCoat Nail Salon, a local nail salon and spa. A military vehicle advertising for the beauty industry? How does that make sense? Allow me to explain. I reached out to the Unimog owner, Karoline of FreshCoat Nail Salon, asking for a short ride through town and the story behind what she dubs “The BeautyMog,” and she obliged over Memorial Day Weekend.
The BeautyMog is a perfect beach vehicle. Karoline modified her Unimog by visiting a junkyard and installing bench seats from a school bus in the Unimog’s bed. With the addition of a stepladder, she transformed the Unimog as a mobile beauty salon for private parties and special events in the Hamptons. In addition to special events, she uses the BeautyMog for outings and bonfires on the beach with her family, making her — without contest — the coolest mom on the planet.
I met Karoline by the parked ‘Mog and climbed into the passenger seat. The top was removed — and with a turn of the key, the diesel engine rumbled to life. Like the Citroen H Van I drove recently, I was in another vehicle equipped without seat belts. With a clunky thud, she put it into gear and we were off. Immediately my door flew open, and she told me to slam it. With a very hard slam, the latch caught and I was now confident I wouldn’t fly out of this thing.
We hit cruising speed on a 40 mile-per-hour road, and the first thing I noticed was that it was loud. Really loud. I started asking questions, and then I realized that they weren’t being heard because the engine was so loud! Once we got to town, I looked to the pedestrians outside the local juice bar and their jaws were on the floor. Perhaps they were visiting the Hamptons for the first time, and they had never seen a military vehicle advertising a nail salon before! “The advertising scheme is working,” I thought, and I wondered how much business the BeautyMog generated.
I was most impressed by how simply the Unimog was modified and given a new life. Originally designed in 1946 for agricultural use in post-war Germany by Albert Friedrich, I am certain Mr. Friedrich never imagined designing the perfect family beach cruiser, let alone someone getting a manicure and pedicure in a Unimog. When you get tired of seeing all of the G-Wagens of the Hamptons, or arguing Ford Bronco vs. Land Rover Defender vs. International Scout for the title of ultimate beach vehicle, there’s always a more creative and more interesting way to stand out. Find a Mercedes-Benz for sale
Sam Keller is a visual artist from Brooklyn. He runs the Instagram account @hamptonwhipz , capturing classic cars in the Hamptons, New York City, and anywhere else his travels take him.