View Full Version : Mercedes G-Class - the "Geländewagen"

03-04-2011, 08:35 PM
I think it deserves its own thread in this sub-forum. Surprised that it has not been mentioned very much so far. Wikipedia does a very good job of the history and technical specs HERE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_G-Class). Excerpt:

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class or G-Wagen, short for Geländewagen (or cross-country vehicle), is a four-wheel drive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-wheel_drive) vehicle / sport utility vehicle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicle) (SUV) produced by German automaker Mercedes-Benz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz). Designed to be a durable, reliable, and rugged off-roader, the G-wagen is characterized by its boxy styling and body-on-frame (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body-on-frame)locking differentials (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locking_differential), one of the few vehicles to have such a feature. construction. It utilizes three fully

I've admired this model since first becoming aware of it in the early 80's, just a few years after Mercedes launched their first civilian version in 1979. I recall standing at a major Hamburg intersection in my own Mercedes 280E 4x2 sedan, one very hard winter. It had just snowed heavily, and traffic was carefully, barely crawling along. Ahead of me at the light, a black G-class. Light turns green. Me and the rest of the general population shift into low gear and proceed to carefully inch across the intersection. The G-Class engine roars, it kinda hunkers down and just plows through a couple of feet of snow as though it were on rails. I was so impressed I didn't even get mad about the amount of snow it sprayed onto my windshield :boggled:...

Couple of years later, friend of mine got one, took me off-roading and demonstrated low gear and the three diff-locks in action. I couldn't believe a car could do the shit we did that day - up the hill, down the hill, traversing the hill and a creek and a bunch of rock without rolling over or getting stuck. Impressed yet again.

Fast forward to just a few years ago when I could finally afford a new car outright. Still couldn't get the G-Class how I wanted it. Settled for the more "urbane" GL, great on the freeway, far more anemic in the back-country, and one really doesn't want to scratch it up too much :nervous:...

So now I'm in Costa Rica, where city streets and a lot of highway stretches are in a state that we would call off-road in the US. Never mind the actual off-road stretches into the jungle, along the coast, or up into volcano country. Have been thinking for a while on what best to get here, for business and pleasure. Seriously considered the Jeep, the Landrover Defender and the (old-school) Landcruiser. Finally decided that I would be best served by the Geländewagen - classy interior, some helpful tech like ABS and ESP, really RUGGED off-road capability, a relatively low center of gravity due to the immense weight of the steel axles (very hard to flip this f***er), easy to up-armor, and a wide choice of engines.

I generally lean towards diesels for torque and reliability, however; diesel engines on newer cars (post '02/'04) don't like the "dirty", high sulfur content fuel very much any more, which is what you get anywhere outside of Europe and the US. They'll still run, but not as well, and with a lot more potential for various issues. (Stellar exception: The Landrover Defender diesel - will drink anything you fill it with!) Based on local availability, I did consider a few G400-CDI's, but there was always one thing or the other wrong with them. I looked at a G270-CDI, newer engine than the 400, which was quite impressive in its performance ratio, and did make it to the "possible" list. A G320 gas engine didn't make the cut - WAY too underpowered to efficiently move 3 tons of steel. A G500 gas engine model was powerful enough, but otherwise, the car it came in looked and felt like the automotive equivalent of an abused woman - beaten down and terribly neglected.

Finally, the right one came along. A G500 in racing green, tan leather interior, 2004 with extremely low miles (43,000!!!), impeccably taken care of by a German who knows what he's doing and talking about. Soon as I had sat down inside and started pushing it up the hill, I knew this was it. Pictures HERE... (http://gallery.me.com/oliverwhisonant#100059&bgcolor=black&view=grid)

I took possession today, and put it through the paces of chaotic traffic jams and open freeways (two conditions alternating quickly here!). Safe, secure, solid, good handling, and an engine with 300hp and about 340 ft.lbs. of torque putting some serious rubber down and moving 3tons forward as if they were nothing. Oh, and the brakes work okay too...

One happy camper here! Next week, getting an expert lesson in off-road usage, diff-locks and all. Report to follow...

03-04-2011, 09:00 PM
DUDE! I love how Mercedes feel and I am sure, despite it's size, it translates with the G-wagon also. If I had my choice in buying Mercedes, it would no doubt be a G-wagon!!

And in Costa Rica too...!!

03-05-2011, 05:05 AM
And you are going 4 wheeling in a Mercedes??? I just can't ever imagine anyone turning a Gwag into a bush buggy. Sorry. Although they have been raced in the Paris to Dakar rally but thats another story.
Buy an '89 Izuzu Trooper, with a new paint job they look the same.

03-05-2011, 11:32 AM
And you are going 4 wheeling in a Mercedes??? I just can't ever imagine anyone turning a Gwag into a bush buggy. Sorry. Although they have been raced in the Paris to Dakar rally but thats another story.
Buy an '89 Izuzu Trooper, with a new paint job they look the same.

Put it this way: I'm not planning on entering the Baja 1000, but the vehicle's offroad capability will be used on a regular basis. For some reason, although Costa Rica has the highest standard of living in Central America, the public roads here are far worse than in neighboring Panama or Nicaragua. Axle-smashing potholes, crumbling shoulders, washed-out bridges, mudslides, all part of the daily game. Then there are some more remote locations that I need to go to regularly, with private roads that you really can't do without 4WD, and may actually sometimes require use of the diff-lock, depending on the season and road's state of maintenance.

By the way, this little country of 4 million people has the most G-Wagons in all of Central and South America... Go figure!

Far as getting and painting an Isuzu is concerned - I would no sooner do that than put lipstick on a pig and call it darling...:shocked1:

03-05-2011, 11:52 AM
Needs some pics...

http://www.rubicon-trail.com/G-Class/img/300GDanza-ind.jpg http://www.olive-drab.com/images/id_mb_gclass_01_700.jpg


03-05-2011, 12:43 PM
My decked out $26,000.00 *$33,000 list* Toyota FJ Cruiser could wrap a chain around your $105,000.00 G550 SUV and drag it all the way from Costa Rica to Arizonia!!!! I will pass on a G Wagon!!!!! I would use that $79,000 difference to get me a Harley, an Enduro and a few other toys.......................................

If I can find an affordable ro-ro from Limon to Barranquilla, you may well get an opportunity to put your money where your mouth is :cool:... Anyway, with or without a towing contest, I look forward to meeting you in your A/O sometime soon!

BTW - G500, 2004, 44k mi., excellent condition. Bluebook is about 43k... At that price, a great value! Would not have bought a new one even if I'd been able to afford it.

03-15-2011, 12:07 PM
You are welcome here anytime bro!! I didnt mean to piss on your wheaties.......... but it sure is alot of money!! I worked on and have owned Mercedes............. they are nice vehicles and quite honestly......i wish i could own a G550 myself!!!!Well, amigo, here's something to whet your appetite.

Context: Back in "the day" the Brits (and, yes, even the French) were way ahead of the 'Amis' in terms of what hardware to use in skulking around DDR forests. Since right after WW-II the US had thought that putting forward the image of the patrolling hunk of Detroit metal was the way to go. That often resulted in:

03-15-2011, 12:15 PM
We finally followed the Brits' lead and the result was the G-wagen (finally) after digging out Ford 500's and Broncos, or worse (long after I left) being pulled out by one of their Opels.

Restored BRIXMIS example and an operational US version in action.