The production anniversary of a brand icon: the 500,000th model of the legendary Mercedes‑Benz G-Class rolled off the production line in Graz, Austria, Thursday 20th April 2023.
The veteran off-roader, which has won many awards as the “best off-road vehicle in the world”, has been writing its very own success story since 1979. The G-Class owes its cult status among its growing fan community primarily to its unique combination of distinctive design and outstanding off-road capability.
The anniversary vehicle recalls the origins of the off-road icon: the model for the vintage look of the one-off is the 280 GE from the 1986 model year, from which the 500,000th descendant incorporates iconic design elements such as the exterior colour and the seat pattern.
The G-Class is approaching its 45th production anniversary, which is coming up in 2024. It will also remain true to itself in the associated model update. The motto will continue to be: technical development with unchanged character.
“On the occasion of the 500,000th anniversary, we would like to thank 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. With the all-electric G-Class launching in 2024, which will push the boundaries of the off-road sector, we look forward with anticipation to the future of the off-road icon.”
Dr Emmerich Schiller, Chairman and CEO Mercedes-Benz G GmbH and Head of the Off-Road Vehicle Product Division at Mercedes-Benz AG
Unique production anniversary vehicle: An original, inspired by the original
The model that Mercedes-Benz is presenting to commemorate the production anniversary is a flawless one‑off. The 500,000th “G” is inspired by a G-Class from the early years. It features some particularly striking design features from its historic predecessor, which has long enjoyed the status of an automotive classic. The historic paint in agave green, one of the first paint colours available for the G-Class, is a real eye-catcher. Among the more subtle details of the exterior design are the turn signals. Their shape has remained the same to this day, but not their colour: on the anniversary vehicle, the covers of the direction indicators feature a shade of orange no longer used today, i.e., the look typical of 1970s automobiles. The historic spare wheel cover with the Mercedes star, which is significantly larger than on today’s models, the brand badge on the rear door and the 5-spoke sterling silver wheel also evoke the early days of the G-Class. The interior of the 500,000th vehicle is also inspired by the 280 GE. For example, the middle section of the seat is upholstered in the chequered fabric typical of the time, while the grab handle on the passenger side features the lettering “No. 500,000” in agave green. The “Schöckl” door sill trim, on the other hand, is an integral part of the G manufaktur’s current customisation range. This also applies to the door knob with logo embossing: in the logo package available today, however, this is available in silver — in the anniversary model it is black.
The top model of luxury SUVs has been setting new standards since 1979
Alongside the S-Class and the E-Class, the G-Class is one of the longest-produced and longest-established passenger car model series in Mercedes-Benz history. Even with the first G model, the development team designed a vehicle that combined superior off-road capability with on-road driving comfort and Mercedes‑typical high safety standards. At the market launch in spring 1979, customers could choose between four engine variants with a power range from 53 kW/72 hp to 110 kW/150 hp. Both short-wheelbase cabriolets and short- or long-wheelbase station wagons were available.
Over the course of the past four decades, the G-Class has established itself from a pure commercial vehicle to a lifestyle object. However, it has retained its distinctive character and typical appearance to this day. All‑wheel drive, differential locks with 100 per cent locking effect and the robust ladder frame have been part of the G-Class since the beginning. Iconic design elements such as the round headlamps, the exposed spare wheel on the side-hinged rear door and the clear, angular silhouette ensure that the off-road vehicle icon is still recognisable today as a direct heir of the first G model.
In terms of performance and technology, the G-Class has been continuously developed over the years. The greatest technological leap in the model’s history came with the new run of the G-Class, which celebrated its world premiere at the Detroit Auto Show in 2018: headlamps with LED technology, modern driver assistance systems, a fundamentally redesigned, modern interior and a new chassis provide more safety and comfort as well as improved driving characteristics both on and off the road.
The motto of the current generation launched in 2018 is “Stronger than Time” and will apply more than ever in the future: with the all-electric G-Class, which will roll off the production line in 2024 alongside the combustion engine models, the off-road vehicle icon is taking a step into the future. The all-electric version, which remains fully in the design tradition of the series, will set new standards with its off-road capabilities: four individually controlled electric motors close to the wheels enable unique driving characteristics, while the batteries integrated in the ladder frame ensure a low centre of gravity. The electric motors provide their maximum torque practically with the first revolution and deliver tremendous power, controllability and responsiveness. All of this makes the off-road icon optimally prepared for the adventures of the future.
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