The iconic slab-sided Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen 4WD (now just called the G-Class) has ticked over a 400,000 unit production milestone in its 41st year of manufacture.
Built at the Magna Steyr factory in Graz, Austria since 1979, the ‘G has served civilian, military and government needs across the globe, and on all manner of terrain, without ever deviating far from its original design.
During its tenure, the iconic Mercedes-Benz has been offered in short and long wheelbases, as a convertible, a customisable cab-chassis, and occasionally as open-top high-riding plaything for the ultra-wealthy.
At launch, the G-Wagen featured a choice of four engines, including a 53kW 2.4-litre diesel – which is a far cry from the current 430kW 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in the 2020 Mercedes-AMG G63.
However, the ladder-frame chassis and multiple differential locks that afforded the car its go-anywhere reputation have remained part of the DNA that underpins the G-Class even today.
Variants are currently in service with the military of over 40-nations, and the ‘G has been licenced to the French Army as the Peugeot P4 (with a Peugeot diesel engine), and was even sold under the Austrian Puch nameplate in some markets.
In consultation with the Australian Army, a 6x6 variant was developed for military use, which was also used as a base for the portal-axle equipped G63 AMG 6x6.
While it took seven years for the first 50,000 G-Wagens to roll off the line, the most-recent 100,000 units took only three years, with the Mercedes celebrating its 300,000th milestone in 2017.
The 400,000th car was a red G400d and is destined to join a collection of 20-odd G’s, belonging to a German customer who has owned a G-Wagen since they first launched more than four decades ago.
As part of Mercedes-Benz’s drive toward a zero-emission future, the G-Class is set to be offered as an electric model in its next-generation, so expect to see the 'Gelandewagon' tick over that half-million mark and beyond.