Benz & Cie. were no exception to the boom enjoyed by all-wheel-drive vehicles in the first quarter of the 20th century. All-wheel-drive commercial vehicles are also produced in Gaggenau. During the First World War the plant developed an all-wheel-drive tractor unit. Although this never got beyond the prototype stage, the test vehicle built in 1920 served as a preliminary stage for subsequent armoured police vehicles.
The company’s first all-wheel-drive vehicle in 1920/21 was a model VRL all-terrain vehicle which was offered for use by the military. Eventually this one-off was sold off to the timber merchants Katz & Klump in Gernsbach, where it performed sterling service for 15 years. It had a ground clearance of 300 millimetres and a climbing ability of 35 per cent (laden), and was powered by an 8.1-litre four-cylinder engine developing 55 hp (40 kW) at 1000 rpm. These key technical data were shared by two model VRL all-wheel-drive four-tonners, which Benz produced in 1920.
In 1921 these were followed by a prototype of an armoured all-wheel-drive vehicle for the police force, which featured all-wheel steering for better manoeuvrability; 25 of these were ordered and delivered prior to 1924.