Mercedes-Benz G-Class or G-Wagen
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class, sometimes called G-Wagen stands 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. In certain markets, it has been sold under the Puch name as Puch G.
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 vehicles in Daimler’s history, with a span of 35 years. Only the Unimog surpasses it.
We go to the history 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. In this role it is sometimes referred to as the “Wolf”. The Peugeot P4 was a variant made under licence in France with a Peugeot engine. The first military in the world to use it was the Argentine Army beginning in 1981 with the military model 461.
The development of the G-Class started in 1972 with a cooperative agreement between Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, Austria. 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. In 1989, for the 10th anniversary of the G Model, a new model variant with permanent 4-wheel drive, a wood-trimmed interior and optional Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) debuted at the Frankfurt International Motor Show.
- Production began the following April. For 1992, 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.
- In 1994, the model line was officially renamed the G-Class. Ventilated front disc brakes and a driver’s air bag became standard.
- In 1996 the automatic transmission became an electronically controlled 5-speed unit. Headlamp washers, cruise control and a front passenger’s air bag were added.
- In 1998, the range-topping G 500 with a 296 hp V 8 was introduced for series production.
- 2007 the output of the G 55 AMG was raised to an even 500 hp. Bi Xenon headlamps, corner-illuminating front foglamps and new scratch-resistant nano-particle paint finishes were offered for the first time.
- In 2008 more-refined instrumentation and controls were included in the G-Class cabin, along with the COMAND system with hard-drive-based navigation, a rear view camera, voice control, Bluetooth and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. The Vatican receives a new white “Popemobile” based on a G 500. 2009 marked the 30th anniversary of the vehicle, with over 200,000 units having been manufactured in Graz since 1979.