Originally intended for the German military, Mercedes' G-Klasse has become the ultimate off-posuer for those of means. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '85 may - strangely enough- be Mustang-powered, but is its price too much to pony up?
Yesterday's Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV offered 130 ponies, and that, along with its fap-worthy Bertone lines, resplendent in its seemingly impeccable presentation, made for one of the few Nice Price wins we've seen here recently, garnering an equally attractive 78% vote. Today's candidate is far less beautiful than that Alfa, and it's so big that the seller can't seem to capture the whole thing in a single shot. Despite that, it is unequivically weird.
Mercedes Benz lost out to VW in garnering a military contract back in the ‘70s, but their Geländewagen (German for ‘ I'm not fat, it's glandular') became a popular choice among foreign dictators fed up with the electrical problems of Land Rovers limiting their rebellion-quelling duties. Engineered and built by Austria's Styr-Daimler-Puch (not to be confused with MTV, The Real World's Snotty-Douchebag-Puck), the public consumption G-wagon debuted in ‘79.
Made available in two wheelbases along with a multitude of body styles (Popemobile, FTW!), the G-Klasse gained an enviable reputation for both its capable off-roadability, and its strict aversion to compound curves. It non the less was initially kept away from the U.S. market, as at the time, most of the people who bought off-road vehicles here were also those who considered Deliverance to be a comedy, not a lucrative target market. Eventually, seeing evolving tastes and the success of the Range Rover here, an enterprising company in New Mexico called Europa International began federalizing imported G-wagons for sale to to the obscenely rich. Europa did such a fine job that MBUSA even deemed it acceptable to service these grey market Gs. When Mercedes started bringing them over officially in 2002, Europa cut back on that biz, and today they mostly deal with parts and service as well as the occasional import assist.
As this G-500 is claimed to be an ‘85, despite rocking a model name not available then, more modern alloy rims, and spare tire cover. As such, it's quite possibly a Europa import. Back in the eighties - and outside the U.S., you could get a G-Klasse with any number of Benz engines under its muscular hood, everything from a 2-litre four all the way up to the legendary OM617 diesel five. This one has none of those choices. Instead, it has what is claimed to be a 1998 Ford Mustang 302, along with its Ford (guessing here) AOD automatic transmission. From the pictures, it's obviously a 5.0, but the 'Stang didn't carry that engine in '98, so this one's probably a lot earlier.
Why yes, WTF?! is the proper response here, thank you for inquiring.
The seller of this black box doesn't let on too much, and the photos are all alien autopsy blurry and vague, but if you were wondering whether the back seat is in good shape, at least he's provided three shots of that. He does say that the fuel injected 302 (225-bhp in the pony car) has suffered a blown head gasket and that it now overheats, and is hence offering the truck ‘As-Is.' The question is, how bad is that as-is? How much damage has been done by the failure? The bigger question may be why did someone drop a Ford mill into an old G-Klasse? Sure, with three locking differentials and so much travel in the suspension that it could avail itself of the expert flyer line through TSA, it's going to be a rival of pretty much any Jeep or Land Rover in getting you through the shit. But still, wouldn't the more obvious choice have been any one of the multitude of Benz burners under the hoods of cars littering the junkyards and frequently-out-of-town neighbor's driveways?
Regardless, as the engine installation is claimed to have been professionally done, and either repairing or replacing the ubiquitous Ford pushrodder could be done in a weekend without breaking a sweat, who cares if it's effed up or not? The rest of the truck looks - at least as much as we can see - to look pretty good, although the tail lamp guards are a little wonky giving the back end a kind of Jake Lamotta appearance. Inside, at least in the back, is cream-colored leather and there's room for up to five Reichsmarschalls.
The trucks that Europa brought over, and even the official ones from Benz, all went for six figures when new. Even to this day, the body on frame Geländewagen continues to sell in enough number that Mercedes refuses to pull the plug despite having introduced its nominal successor, the unit-body GL. If you have the kind of scratch to buy one today, you'll probably demand the warranty coverage and dealer concierge service that accompanies such a heady expenditure. If, on the other hand, you'd like to live the preferred life, but are a little more DIY, and don't mind buying one with ‘some assembly required' then this $11,000, as-is G-500 might be right up your gasse.
What do you think, is it worth $11,000 to Klasse up the joint? Or, does that price - and its broken pony power - make this one Geländewagen that needs gelding?
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