Mercedes G Class- It was born to be a tool for soldiers. And has ended up becoming a symbol of status for the wealthiest. The strangest thing is that it has done filling its interior with luxury and high performance engines. But practically with the same shell. It’s the Mercedes G-Class and here we celebrate its 40th anniversary.
There are only two cars produced in series in the world that have barely changed throughout their long history: the Lada Niva. And the Mercedes G Class. Of the first we spoke two years ago for its fortieth anniversary. And today it is worth paying tribute to the anniversary of the Mercedes G Class, which in 2019 blows forty candles.
When Mercedes launched this car. It did not imagine that it would continue in production forty years later nor how its target audience would change over these four decades, from being a tool to becoming one of the most luxurious cars. And desired by the most affluent clients. In fact, its main clients are practically the enemies against whom it would have to fight when it was designed as a vehicle for the Austrian and German armed forces.
Indeed, the G-Class was born as a joint project between the Austrian company Steyr-Puch. And Mercedes-Benz. Two companies that already collaborated in the manufacture of vehicles adapted for off-road work such as the Unimog since 1968.
Leading the project could not be anyone more qualified: Erich Ledwinka. This last name has not transcended as much as that of Porsche or Piech or Ford, but his father was the true designer of the platform that would give life to the VW Beetle and the first Porsche models. In fact, after the interruption of the Second World War. And many political problems, Volkswagen had to compensate Tatra, the company for which Ledwinka worked when Ferdinand Porsche plagiarized the project of the car that would end up being all a symbol .
The Ledwinka had a special genius in two sections: the robustness and the total traction. In fact, the patented system for Tatra of all-wheel drive with independent suspension that has led its trucks to win several competitions is still valid after more 70 years old and is still used today.
These two qualities are present in the Mercedes G-Class, a car that has stood out for its formidable all-terrain capabilities. And robustness, but that has taken its toll in two aspects: price and weight, the only weak points of this tank with wheels .
Mercedes G Class: a long project
The project of the Mercedes W460 began to be forged in 1969. Although the first stone was laid in 1971 when the final team was created. And the project was given the green light. Just two years later, the first wooden model was ready and in 1974 the first operational prototype was tested.
The design of the bodywork that has become an icon is the work of Bruno Sacco. Who at that time was a Mercedes-Benz designer. So we have an engineer Steyr Puch and a Mercedes designer leading two teams that would result in the launch in 1979 of the Mercedes G-Class.
Both teams had the mission to design a robust 4 × 4, with excellent all-terrain qualities and more versatile than beautiful. Sacco was clear from the beginning that straight lines were the most appropriate and that the main thing for an all-terrain to be able to advance is to fit where it has to pass. So it started from a very compact base and a very contained width. All its panels would be flat and also its crystals. In this way. In addition to reducing the manufacturing cost anyone could repair a broken moon in the most remote corner of the planet.
The Mercedes G-Class was introduced to the market initially as the W460 model: a universal all-terrain vehicle, with a simple interior but in which much attention had been paid to the propulsion system. The all-wheel drive. Installed as standard equipment, had a 100% lockable differential between axles and optional lockable differentials on the front and rear axles. Which have been standard equipment since 1985.
Thanks to this, optimal behavior outside the road is ensured. The design of the chassis and the rigid axles with shock absorbers of springs were oriented towards versatility and robustness off the road. At the time of launch, the 240 GD and 300 GD models with diesel engine and the 230 G and 280 GE with gasoline engine were offered. Two different track battles were available (2,400 and 2,850 millimeters), as well as different body types.
Mercedes G Class: 40 years of Lampedusa
Giussepe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote in his novel “The Leopard” a phrase that comes to us here that neither painted: “If we want everything to continue as it is, it is necessary that everything changes”, and so it has been in the Mercedes Class G.
Throughout these 40 years of history and under the same appearance there have been 4 generations of the G-Class . Although in reality they are not proper generations, since two of them coexisted.
The original project, called W460, remained in production between 1979 and 1991. At this time the G-Class was offered with short bodies of 3 doors or long of 5, convertible or rigid roof.
In 1992 the relay was taken by the W461 and W463, apparently the same as the W460. But with a more elaborate interior, more modern mechanics and slight aesthetic touches in the shape of the calender. And little else. The W461 followed a approach closer to the original concept, with a reinforced chassis for intensive use in the field, all-wheel drive. And a more basic equipment. This version was no longer available in 2001.
The W463 is the one that has remained alive until now and was already characterized in 1992 by having a permanent integral traction system with locks in the 3 differentials. And a virtually unlimited equipment for which reserved the most powerful mechanics.
In 2018 the latest evolution of the Mercedes W463 has been presented , which maintains the name of the project. But has incorporated transcendental novelties such as the front axle with independent suspension. And mechanical and technological improvements that mean that. Although the chassis by stringers is still practically the We can speak of a completely new generation. In addition, it is also the one that has changed the most aesthetically.
The most special G-Class Mercedes
The robustness of its chassis and its name has given wings to the imagination of several trainers. And there have been several very special versions of the Mercedes G-Class. Perhaps the best known, photographed and filmed by cameras around the world is the famous “Papamóvil”. Designed to protect the Pope from possible attacks while parading.
It is a special body of the Mercedes G-Class W460 in which the rear has been transformed into an armored glass cabin from which the Pope could stand. And be visible by the crowd as the procession circulated.
Undoubtedly, the image of one of the most influential people in the world protected to seem invulnerable to attacks on board a Mercedes G-Class marked a before. And after in this model. It was no longer just a 4 × 4. It was now a rolling strength and it was one of the most influential people on the planet. Which, in addition, is always surrounded by luxury. Another concept with which the Class was not born G but that is now inseparable from him.
Other of the most striking versions of the Mercedes G-Class are those that have 3 axles and six-wheel drive. These striking models are nothing new in Mercedes. In fact, the G-Class could be said to have been born with them.
The name of Class G comes from the initial Gelandewagen. And Mercedes already used it in the 30s in its Mercedes G4 that were characterized by its three axles, of which. The two rear twin were the motor.
Clearly inspired by the Mercedes G4 of the Third Reich have been born models like the Mercedes G63 AMG 6 × 6 . One of the most spectacular cars that have been commercialized.
The future of the Mercedes G-Class
In 2018 the new generation of the Mercedes G Class was introduced, bringing together more novelties than ever before. Maintaining the chassis by stringers. The new G-Class has for the first time independent front suspension, which greatly improves its behavior on the road. And serves to comfortably overcome the barrier of 200 km / h.
It has also adapted to modern times in terms of advanced assistants to driving, mechanics, performance. Connectivity and luxury, making it clear that, at 40, he is younger and more prepared than ever.