Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen (1979)

Mercedes-Benz 300 GD, Techno-Classica 2018, Essen
Introduced 1979

Think of a boxy four-wheel drive vehicle designed for the military but also popular with civilians, which ended up in production for decades long than was reasonable. You might think of the Land Rover Defender, but in this case we are talking about the Mercedes-Benz G Class, introduced in 1979.

Superficially similar to the Defender, the G Class (or “G-Wagen”) is a more refined beast – or perhaps more accurately, a less unrefined beast. Despite being overhauled in the 1980s there was no escaping the Land Rover’s 1940s roots. The Mercedes was full to the brim of late 1970s engineering though.

Compared to the Defender, the G-Wagen is better on-road, quieter, more solidly built and arguably even better off-road than the Defender. Both platforms should have been pensioned off years ago – however the G-Wagen remains in production. But where the Defender never quite lost its utilitarian roots, the G-Wagen turned into something rather more luxurious.

These days you are quite likely to see a Defender in an Army convoy, or a farm or doing some other important and practical function. But you are more likely to see a G-Wagen being driven by the very rich or famous, by people protecting the rich or famous… or by your friendly neighbourhood drug dealer.

Starting new at a little under £100,000, the G-Wagen is rather expensive. Bling it up with a BRABUS-tuned AMG engine and you could be looking at a cool quarter of a million quid. Make it six wheel drive and that's even more. There are honestly better cars available for that sort of money. But few have the presence of the G-Wagen. Even the cheapest pre-owned models are priced between £20k to £30k. Ouch.

Fortunately, if you are looking for a capable off-roader that it also a relic from the past, then the Lada 4X4 (launched in 1977) starts at around €12,000 for a new one if you pop over to Germany. But perhaps that’s not quite as luxurious as a new G-Wagen.

Image credit: Matti Blume via Wikimedia Commons





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