Mercedes-Benz Has Officially Built Half A Million Gelandewagens

Off-Road / 7 Comments

The 500,000th example has been inspired by "Gelandewagen's" of years gone by, with a rugged, no-nonsense design.

From Beverly Hills to Bulawayo, the G-Class is an automotive legend. Arguably one of the most desirable SUVs on sale today, the rugged off-roader has reached a production milestone. Mercedes-Benz announced that the 500,000th example has left Austria's Magna Steyr production line.

The vehicle in question isn't a flashy G63 AMG but rather an "anniversary" model that recalls the "Gelandewagen's" rugged roots. Practical alloy wheels, black exterior trimmings, and a no-nonsense Agave Green exterior color (one of the first hues offered on the model) put one in mind of the original G-Class before it became a designer trinket for the rich and famous.

A 280 GE served as the inspiration behind this particular model. On the fenders, you'll spot orange-colored turn signals that haven't been used in years, along with the classic oversized spare wheel holder with the three-pointed star.


Mercedes hasn't shared any interior images but says the 500,000th example has a spartan cabin trimmed with chequered fabric, a fashionable upholstery style in the late '70s and '80s. To highlight the importance of this model, the passenger side grab handle has "No. 500,000" lettering in Agave Green.

"On the occasion of the 500,000th anniversary, we would like to thank both our loyal customers and long-time fans as well as our employees and our production partner Magna Steyr in Graz. We are proud of this figure, which also underscores the exclusivity of the G-Class. After all, four whole decades have led to this significant anniversary. This makes the G-Class anything but a mass product," said the brand's Dr. Emmerich Schiller.

The story of the G-Class stretches back more than forty years ago when the Shah of Iran reportedly approached Mercedes and asked them to make a capable off-road vehicle.


As a loyal customer and then-shareholder in the automaker, Stuttgart sprung into action, and in 1979, the Big G was born.

It was a vastly different creature from what we know today. Two four-cylinder engines were available, with the most potent producing just 150 horsepower. A diesel-powered variant was also offered, but progress was slow, with just 72 horses on tap. Customers could choose from a short-wheelbase cabriolet or wagon and the long-wheelbase wagon that we know and love today.

Since then, it has evolved into a more luxurious car. In the early 90s, Mercedes shoehorned a muscular V8 under the hood and filled the cabin with leather, wood, and all the features you'd expect in a luxury car. Mercedes had one target in its sights, and that was the Range Rover. However, the G-Class only became popular after the arrival of the AMG models.


With its grumbly V8, rock-solid cabin, and imposing exterior, the G55 became the must-have accessory for monied A-listers. However, the Tesla Model S has since replaced it as the celebrity car of choice.

Since then, the G-Class has spawned a six-wheeler pickup truck variant and even a 4x42 version, which takes the off-roading capabilities to a new level. The next challenge for the "Gelandewagen" to conquer is electrification. In 2024, an all-electric derivative (the EQG) will arrive. This model won't sacrifice off-road ability in the pursuit of sustainability.

The electric G-Class will reportedly retain its body-on-frame platform and ladder-frame chassis, which should work beautifully with the torquey electric motors. It's taken more than 40 years to reach half a million vehicles. Will we see one million? That remains to be seen, but given the demand for these vehicles - and unfading desirability - it may very well soldier on for the next four decades.


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