It took 44 years, but Mercedes-Benz has officially made half a million G-Class off-roaders. Well, Austrian car supply Magna’s actually been making them, but let’s not get too bogged down in who assembles what. The point is, the 500,000th G-Class rolled off the line in Austria and Mercedes is throwing it back to 1986 to celebrate. While retro one-offs can often come off as kitschy and insincere, I reckon this half-millionth G-Class actually works great.
Obviously, the olive paint and black nose are the first two things you’ll notice. Not only is Agave Green a great color, it conjures up the utilitarian background of the Gelandewagen from before it was a hidden hills status symbol of leather and chrome. That blacked-out front end is also a throwback, although a rather successful one. It can’t hide the more contoured front end of the current G-Class, but it can at least attempt to obscure a little bit of detail.
A more subtle change is backdating the fender-top indicator lenses to amber from the clear ones you see on the stock G-Class above, a nice touch that keeps with the fashion of the 1980s. Since most Mercedes-Benz products didn’t receive clear indicator lenses until the mid-’90s or so, these tinted lenses are a thoughtful backdating. Speaking of backdating, the hard spare tire cover has been ditched in favor of a soft cover like the ones you’d so often see in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. While not as protective as a hard cover, it should be easier to remove and store. Oh, and speaking of things around the back, the rear door gets an old-school Mercedes-Benz wordmark reminiscent of old valve covers. Nice.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the headlight grilles and chunky roof rack are special items unique to this G-Class, but they’re actually borrowed from the Professional Line model. This Euro-spec version pictured below isn’t a stripped-down commercial-grade G-Class but rather an appearance package meant to add a certain rugged style to Mercedes’ iconic SUV. Mind you, these split-five-spoke wheels aren’t part of the Professional Line, but are instead another special nod to the past. Call me old-fashioned, but it’s refreshing to see silver wheels on a car instead of black or diamond-cut designs. Wheels should be celebrated rather than hidden deep within the dark burrows of wheel wells.
Mercedes hasn’t released any interior pictures of this special half-millionth G-Wagen, but the cabin’s said to feature chequered fabric which would look fabulous in any new G-Class. Let’s hope that goes on the options list for Mercedes’ G Manufaktur in-house customization program.
Making this project a bit more impressive is how little can actually be bolted-on and backdated to the 1986 280 GE it draws inspiration from. That yuppie-era model featured the chassis code W460, and it looked noticeably different from its W463 and W461 successors thanks to a different front end that you can see in the picture above. The W463 soldiered on from 1990 to 2018 in first-generation form, but was replaced five years ago by the thoroughly-redesigned second-generation W463 G-Class seen in Mercedes showrooms today. Sure, it may share the same chassis code as its older brother, but only three pieces carried over – the headlamp washers, the exterior door handles, and the spare tire cover.
While this G-Wagen looks old, it will still drive like a relatively modern vehicle with independent front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, modern sound deadening, and significantly improved chassis rigidity over its predecessors. Unfortunately, it’s a one-off, which means its visual package is all just a marketing stunt. That’s a shame, as the high-buck overlanding craze means there’s some market for a more rugged-looking G-Class, and high-profile tires should ride marvelously over decaying North American infrastructure. Mercedes, if you’re listening, make this a package people can buy.
(Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz)
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Why do I think this “real” spec G wagon would cost more than the urban crawler G wagon? And am I right to be angry about that?
I still secretly want a Canadian Military Spec one.
Nice how they support their own heritage – this is how it’s done. Surprising, though, to see just one female engineer here.
I LOVE IT.
Best looking G in many years! 😎
To clarify a few things…
W460 was replaced by W463 while W461 was introduced at the same time with W463 chassis and W460 body along with 24-volt electrical system. The W461 is for the military, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, and communal uses. Of course, Mercedes-Benz introduced the “civilian” version of W461 under the names: Worker, Professional, and PUR.
The copper-coloured W463 in the aforementioned photo isn’t any of “civilian” W461 models. It’s just one of the trim levels that Mercedes-Benz offered for its second-generation W463 along with Night Line, AMG Line, Manufaktur, etc.
When the second generation W463 was introduced, it didn’t receive W464 nomenclature as many assumed despite the extensive revisions to the chassis, body, and components. The W464 was assigned to the W461 replacement introduced in October 2022 along with different engines for lower quality fuel.
Who’s on 1st? I don’t know. Third base.
It’s worrying how much I want this. Like, this exact SUV.
…I might have to spend all evening looking up what vintage green Gs cost because this spec is so freaking rad.
So, if I had a dollar for every G class ever made, I could buy… one G class?
This is how every Geländewagen should have been made to this day. Say no to bling shit!
Also I have to say that the retro looks work shockingly well on this newer body. This is genuinely better looking than the actual production G-wagens this day.
A quick glance at the headline had me thinking that author Mercedes Streeter had gotten into car cosplay, and now I’m disappointed that that’s not the case. The next time one of you Autopians buys a new large appliance and gets your hands on some copious amounts of cardboard, can we have a staff car costume contest?
Just send her a message on Slack?
This “low end” overlander would love an old g-wagen or Swiss/Austrian version to overland with.