Mercedes Geländewagen: A New Mania?
Merc’s internationally-prevalent off roader known as the G-Class, G-Wagen, or “Geländewagen” to traditionalists has carried pretty much the same look since it’s design was suggested to Mercedes by the Shah of Iran in 1979.
Oh yes, I had to cross-check that Wikipedia entry with the boys over at TopGear.com… but I have verified that is indeed the true origin of this riotously aggressive looking 4×4.
In most of the world, the G-Class can be found in several engine/wheelbase/appointment levels. If you don’t mind an older one with cloth seats and a smaller powerplant, a ‘wagen can be a legitimate option for those needing a dependable and capable 4×4.
Here in the US, Mercedes would have us believe that only the 500+ and AMG levels exist. Combine that with limited shipment counts and you’ll be able to work out why many of us seeking luxury off-roaders have to stick with Land Rovers, which are much cheaper and easier to find.
I’ve sat in brand-new G55′s at the Mercedes store before, but when I saw this 2002 model waiting in line to be auctioned off I saw a unique opportunity to explore a G-Class that had actually been lived in.
This blue breadbox had over a hundred k on the clock, gnarly-soggy carpeting in the cargo area, and a host of MILs on the dash, but the interior and exterior were in fairly good knick.
Sitting at the helm and pushing all the buttons, moving the truck around a bit in the lane, and catching myself in the mirror, I could definitely see myself importing an old diesel G-Wagen and outfitting it as my vehicle of choice for long range expeditions. For a diehard Land Rover fan that’s saying a lot, but this Benz ticked all the boxes.
It’s got an imposing exterior presence, excellent visibility from the cockpit, ample cargo room and a rough-n-tumble military surplus shape.
Plus the three-pointed-star in the grille says “Pardon me, peasant” almost as well as the raised-letter RANGE ROVER stamp on that vehicle’s bonnet. Main difference being… the Mercedes might actually, you know. Work.
Time to hit eBay…