Connor Struyk ’20
Well, it’s been over a month so I figure that enough time has passed to once again make fun of the Jeep owners on campus. I mean really you only have yourselves to blame. Anyway, in this week’s article I will be doing all the Jeep owners a favor and giving them an alternative. This week we will be looking at a relatively unknown competitor to the venerable Jeep: the Mercedes G-Class. Ok, ok, now I know what you are thinking. The G-Wagon is neither unknown nor is it even remotely within the same price bracket as even the most fully loaded Jeep. However, I am not suggesting a modern G-Wagon. I am instead referring to the more unheard of 460 series G-Wagons of the 1980s and 1990s.
When most Americans think of the G-Wagon, they imagine a four door ultra-high-end box on wheels bought mostly as a status symbol rather than for practicality. The 460 series G-Wagons of the 80s and 90s are not that. Never originally sold/ meant for sale in the United States, These 460 series G-Wagons lack nearly every unnecessary creature comfort you might commonly associate with a modern G-Wagon. Wood paneling and leather upholstery are gone and in their place are plastic panels and exposed metal. Some do have leather seats, but it is far more common to find them with cloth or in some cases even rubber seats. In terms of exterior appearance, they have that boxy appearance that has become synonymous with the G-Wagon. The 460 series came in three or five door options with the three-door version coming in both hard and soft top variants. In terms of engines, there were several options ranging from four to six cylinders with both diesel and gasoline options.
At this point, you may be wondering why I am so passionate about these old SUVs and that is a totally fair critique. They are old, outdated, basic trucks which are low on horsepower and lack modern safety equipment. What they may lack in features however, they more than make up for in capability and style. Originally developed as a military vehicle for the German Army, the G-Class was envisioned as a vehicle which would be simple to make, simpler to maintain, and be able to transport troops and supplies wherever they were needed. This design philosophy is also what resulted in the creation of the Jeep. However, unlike the Jeep which has become highly domesticated over the years, the 460 series G-Wagons still contain much of what made them true rugged all terrain military vehicles. Secondly, unlike the Jeep, the 460 series G-Wagons are extremely well built. In fact, every single one was almost entirely hand built in a factory in Graz, Germany. In terms of styling, the G-Wagon is a classic. While yes that can also be said about the Jeep, there is something jarring about the G-Wagon’s design that draws attention like nothing else. Additionally, there is the fact that these trucks are incredibly uncommon, especially in the United States. I would be incredibly surprised if you had even known about the three-door version of the G-Wagon before this article, let alone actually seen one.
Now, I know these trucks are not for everyone. A Jeep is still the obvious choice for most everyday needs. However, when it comes time to eventually replace your current Jeep, I strongly urge you to at least check out an 80s to 90s G-Wagon. For less than you would spend on a Jeep, you could have an excellent and unique truck which would last forever, stand out in a crowd, and would happily accept whatever punishment you could possibly throw at it.