The 500,000th G-Wagen Brings Retro Nods to 2023

Photo By: Mercedes

Long before “overlanding” was a thing (and maybe before the term was coined), German carmaker Mercedes-Benz was cranking out the “G-Class” all-terrain box-on-wheels that eventually came to be known as the “G Wagen” in popular culture. Recently, the company produced G-Class number 500,000, 44 years after production began.

Photo by Mercedes

Long the odd-ball Benz, the G Class (ostensibly for “gelände,” or “off-road”) went into production in 1979 and was coveted by early adventurers for its toughness and practicality. Originally developed as a military vehicle (at the behest of the Shah of Iran, no less), the G also stirred in a bit of luxury missing from contemporaries such as Land Rover and Toyota’s Land Cruiser. But the real appeal came from its ability to go places normally, the provenance of Jeeps or other specialty off-road vehicles while still functioning as a practical urban transport with that 5-pointed logo proudly on display.

Over the decades, the G Wagen (yes, with an “e”) hasn’t changed much in terms of styling, and indeed, Mercedes says unit 500,000 is based on the “classic” 1980s models, which look pretty similar to the 2023 models in most ways. The 500K unit does include some nifty throwback touches, including 80’s colored turn signals (apparently not the same orange as the current orange hue), agave green paint (an early and popular color option), and the middle section of the rear seat is “upholstered in the checkered fabric typical of the time,” according to the company.

Otherwise, the half-millionth G is fully modern, with a 416hp V8, 9-speed automatic, LED lighting, 12.3-inch touchscreen, and modern suspension with the G’s iconic three-locking differentials. And, of course, you can slather on the lux with your choice of wood trims, leather seats, and a sonorous ​​15-speaker, 590-watt Burmester audio system, among a long list of other tech, texture, engine, and suspension goodies.

Photo by Mercedes

Photo by Mercedes

The G-Class Benz was never some bargain off-roader, and prices start at just over $140,000 for the base G550 and go up to whatever you’d like to spend. As a perennial favorite of celebrities, many won’t ever turn a wheel in the dirt, but those that do point them off the pavement are rarely disappointed in their capabilities, no matter how many speakers are blasting away. Sexy? No. Iconic? Definitely. And also the longest-running model in the car company’s catalog. We’re confident the next 500,000 will find good homes, including an all-electric model launching in 2024.

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