High-end off-roaders prove that even the monied enjoy roughing it - as far as the lodge that is, where hopefully a hot toddy is waiting. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mercedes 280GE comes from a line of just such 4x4s for the filthy rich, but does its current price mean it cleans up nicely?
Range Rovers, Land Cruisers, Grand Wagoneers, and Mercedes' top truck all started out as more plebeian fare. Over the years, their makers piled on all the trappings of luxury that each capable four by four could carry, and their place in the private school carline hierarchy went from eclectic anachronism to dominant exhibit of conspicuous consumption.
In the above context, today's 1980 Mercedes Benz 280GE would be best described as old school. Originally offered at a time when the term SUV was unknown, and not offered at all in the US, the 280GE was about as basic and honest an off-road and foul weather wagon as one could expect from a company as excruciatingly anal as Mercedes Benz.
The currently offered G500, with its painted fender extenders and grille, chrome brush guards, and luxury interior featuring a standard automatic transmission somehow lacks the appeal of the earlier, less complicated and un-blinged editions. Or maybe that's just me. The simpler presentation of the earlier trucks, with their black trim and simple interiors, albeit with Recaro seats, are somehow more appealing, making driving them feel less like you've been inducted into the kult of Kardashian.
This one is just so nicely fitted and is said to be an Europa import. Europa was the New Mexico company that, prior to Mercedes official imports of the G, bought these wagons in Europe and resold them here after undertaking a full federalization. The seller claims to have Europa's manuals for the truck, and it is apparently currently tagged in Pennsylvania, which would back up the claim, but it lacks the front and rear side marker lights that I'm pretty sure Europa put on the trucks so YMMV.
The 280 in 280GE stands for the M110E double overhead cam straight six that powers the truck. These feature 2,746-cc displacement and are legendary for durability if not for copious output. With around 150-bhp, you can bet that the 4-speed manual (automatics weren't available in the G until the following year) will get a workout. Fortunately the seller says everything works just fine including all three of the locking diffs. He claims that prior to his ownership someone replaced the exhaust system with a stainless steel job, and gave the tuck new fuel lines.
On the downside, he says there's a shimmy shimmy ya above sixty five, which may mean an expensive front end rebuild is in the cards sometime down the road. I'm just amazed that the truck will do sixty five. Other, equally disconcerting issues are electrical gremlins affecting the gas gauge: no worky - and headlamps: worky - no worky - worky, and door locks that will not protect you from the 99% should they ever rise up.
Perhaps the most egregious monkey in this truck's wrench is the rust that's bubbling up at the bottom of the doors like a bathtub fart, and is splitting the seam where the side panel meets the rear cap. The seller also notes a lot of surface rust on the frame and whatnot, but that takes just a weekend and a can of POR to fix. The 98,000 miles seem to indicate that it has been time and not distance which has been this truck's cruel mistress.
None of those body boogers or electrical vexations is enough to make this 280GE a lost cause, but it may mean you don't get primo valet position at Spago until it's all fixed. The G500, with its V8 engine and several hundred pounds of luxury accoutrement crap has been on sale in the States now for more than 10 years, and while its price new goes deep into six figures, depreciation stalks the truck like a money-sucking Grendel. This truck comes with baggage, but also a price that's more commensurate to a couple year old Kia, and it's a stick, something the G500's owners are more likely to have up their ass rather than know how to row.
It's hard to pinpoint just what is the appeal of the Geländewagen, and for those of you saying that this one's $10,000 asking price will buy a damn-fine Jeep there's probably very little. But for those who look at that teal paint wrapped around the none-boxier body and get a little piss shiver of excitement, well, join the club. Of course to actually join the G-class club with this 280GE, you'll need to consider that price.
What do you think about this needs-some-sorting G? Does its ten grand price make up for the work it will require? Or, does that simply too much G-money baby?
H/T to gmcdlux for the hookup!
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