The Mercedes-Benz G-Class (sometimes called G-Wagen as it is short for Geländewagen, “cross country vehicle”), is a mid-size four-wheel drive luxury SUV manufactured by Magna Steyr (formerly Steyr-Daimler-Puch) in Austria and sold by Mercedes-Benz. The G-wagen is characterized by its boxy styling and body-on-frame construction. It uses three fully locking differentials, one of the few vehicles to have such a feature. Despite the introduction of an intended replacement, the unibody SUV Mercedes-Benz GL-Class in 2006, the G-Class is still in production and is one of the longest produced Mercedes-Benz in Daimler’s history, with a span of 35 years.
The G-class was developed as a military vehicle from a suggestion by the Shah of Iran (at the time a significant Mercedes shareholder) to Mercedes and offered as a civilian version in 1979.
Development started in 1972, focusing on off-road abilities and maximum safety and comfort. Mercedes-Benz engineers in Stuttgart were in charge of design and testing, while the team in Graz developed the production plans. The first wooden model was presented to Daimler-Benz management in 1973, with the first drivable prototype beginning various testing including German coalfields, the Sahara Desert, and the Arctic Circle in 1974. Construction commenced on a new production facility in Graz, where the new cross-country vehicle would be assembled nearly entirely by hand in 1975, with production of the “G Model” beginning in Graz in 1979. In 1980, the Vatican took delivery of a specially made G-Wagen outfitted with a clear thermoplastic top which served as the Popemobile. The “Papa G” later took up permanent residence at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
The first major refinements were introduced in 1981, including an automatic transmission, air conditioning, an auxiliary fuel tank, protective headlamp grilles and a cable winch. Fuel injection became available in 1982, when the 230 GE was introduced in Turin, along with more comfortable and supportive front seats, auxiliary heating, wider tires and fender flares. For 1985, differential locks, central door locking and a tachometer became standard and by 1986 over 50,000 G Models had been produced.
The G-Wagen was facelifted in 1990 and again revised in 1992, when a new sub-series for professional users began production. The civilian model began to offer cruise control, a stainless-steel spare-tire cover, running boards and Burl Walnut wood interior trim. The same year, the 100,000th G Model was built in Graz.
The original 460-series Geländewagen went on sale in 1979, after having debuted in February of that year. It was offered with two wheelbases, a short wheelbase (SWB) of 2,400 mm and a long one (LWB) of 2,850 mm. One could choose between three body styles: A two-door short wheelbase convertible, a two-door SWB wagon and a long wheelbase four-door wagon. The two wagon versions were also available as windowless two-door Vans (or Kastenwagen in German).
This 1991 example is a 300 GD
– Short wheel base
– OM617 3.0 L Diesel I5 engine producing 88 PS
It was originally suppled to its first owner in Germany. Now with its third owner in Spain the car has covered 195,000 KMs, and continues to perform without fault. Having recently benefitted from a full service, this G-Wagen presents and drives very well indeed.