What started out as a military vehicle has transformed into an one of Mercedes-Benz's icons. Bare from the start, it is now a fully fledged luxury SUV with the capability to boot. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.
Series production of the G-Class started on February 1979. The first one that rolled out of Austria are far removed from the ones you see now. It was carburetted, the diesels were naturally aspirated, air-conditioning was an option, and it only had a four-speed manual from the start. It started becoming a bit more refined by the early 80's with air-conditioning now standard, the inclusion of fuel injection, and a tachometer. By the 90's the G-Class was seeing multiple duties, being a military vehicle, utilitarian, and luxury SUV.
In 1990, the line was split into two, a utility model, and a more plush variant. These were known as the W461 and the W463, respectively. The W461 is still based on the original 1979 model, save for some few tweaks to modernize it. It is still in production to this day. The W463 was also deeply rooted in the 1979 model, but got more standard equipment and amenities to make it more luxurious. It also had a long production run. It ran for 28 years and, along the way, gained modern V6 engines, both gas and turbodiesels, a V8, and eventually, a boosted V8 and V12 courtesy of AMG. The W463 also spawned the wild 4×4² and 6x6.
In 2018, the G-Class got a comprehensive redesign. The platform is new from the ground up, and now featured independent front suspension to enhance road manners. It also has a cockpit inspired by the S-Class flagship sedan. These days, a G-Class can be equipped with massage seats, air suspension, adaptive cruise control, and more more features unimaginable in 1979. Like the previous-generation model, it too has AMG models.
For 40 years, the G-Class has evolved dramatically yet still retains the classic and signature boxy profile. But while the G-Class has become more luxury oriented, its off-road abilities remain.
Happy 40th Mercedes-Benz G-Glass, and here's to 40 more.