The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is appreciated for staying alive as a pure SUV as the world has changed over the years. Today's version of the rugged off-roader is still recognizable when parked next to the first models built in 1979. Mercedes dived into that storied history when it came time to build the 500,000 example, with excellent results.
The inspiration for this build hails from 1986, in the form of the rugged 280 GE model. The 500,000th G-Class wears the same Agave Green exterior finish. The interior gets a retro touch, too; trimmed in classic checkered fabric right out of the disco decade.
When you get into the finer details, you see just how far Mercedes went with this throwback project. The G-Class has used the same shape indicator lenses for years, though their color has shifted over the decades. For this build, though, Mercedes custom-made the indicator lenses in the rich, pungent orange color that was typical in the 1970s. The badging, wheels, and even the spare wheel cover were designed to evoke the early G-Class look.
The G-Class comes with a significant power advantage over its ancestor, however. At launch in 1979, the G-Class was available with four engine options ranging in output from 72 horsepower to 150 horsepower. In the U.S., today's model is available with a twin-turbo V8 boasting 416 hp, while the G63 ups the output to 577 hp. Other countries also get turbodiesel inline sixes good for 282 hp and 326 hp, while the Chinese market gets a turbocharged inline-four good for 255 hp.
Change is always inevitable. Despite that, the G-Class, or "G-Wagen" as it's affectionately known, has always stayed true. Unlike other nameplates, it never became a softer unibody crossover as a cheap cash grab. The G-Class still retains a proper ladder chassis, along with a rugged off-road drivetrain with three locking differentials. These design choices come with trade-offs in terms of price and refinement, but it doesn't matter.
It's true that today's ultra-luxury models and crazy 6x6 versions differ from the original model's barebones construction. The company has an electric sequel in the works, too. However, all still respect the original's basic ethos, off-road credentials, and aesthetic.
This special 500,000th example is a testament to how well Mercedes understands and values its history. This retro build is a fun way for the company to demonstrate that. We'd love to see this offered as a regular trim package for die-hard G-Wagen enthusiasts.
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