Life really is stranger than fiction. If you had told me in 1979–when the quasi-military G-Wagen was introduced in Europe–that someday it would be an American bling-mobile, I would have asked you to kindly lay off the crack pipe. Now I just quickly peeled off one shot of this Euro-spec G280, but one of these days we’ll have to do it greater justice; maybe when I find a really nice donked G-whip. Fortunately, in Eugene, that may be a while.
It’s all so ironic too. When I started reading about the the G-Wagen, I was just starting to have my first off-road urges. Needless to say, it was forbidden fruit for Americans back then, but how I lusted for one, with a diesel and five speed. The closest surrogate I came close to buying was a Scout II with the Nissan diesel. No disrespect for the tough Scout, but it was antediluvian compared to state-of-the art G, with its long-travel highly-articulated four wheel coil spring suspension, three locking diffs, and all-round advanced engineering of the kind that made Mercedes (and partner Puch) once famous.
The only question that my MMing never failed to fully answer was whether it would be the long or short wheelbase version.
The G-Wagen was so utterly German in every way; the Übergelandewagen. No conventionally-configured 4×4 could exceed its off-road capabilities; yet it was perfectly comfortable and composed on the Autobahn, if a bit slow with the four-cylinder engines, especially the G240D.
So this is what the world has come to. OK, I’m not going get all grumpy-old-mannish here, but I can truly find no better metaphor for how the world has changed than the evolution of the G. Or devolution, as the case more rightly is.
After lusting so hard for one, I was shocked to hear they would be finally coming to the US in 2002, all tarted up and with a starting price of over $75 k. And they’re still available at your friendly Mercedes dealer, now for $113k, ($134k for the G63 AMG). You wonder why I wrote off Mercedes long ago?