For $15,000, Puch it out

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If you wanted to go off-roading, you could always get a Jeep, or if you're an anglophile, a Land Rover. But if you like both dirt under your tires and lederhosen under your buns, then today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mercedes Geländewagen may just be your ride. You might however, find its price lederhosed.

Dear backwoods builder of yesterday's freakish Pontiac Sunbird Trike Thing,

We really need to talk. It seems that not only would 92% of Jalops not pay $2,500 for your meth-fueled creation, but most of them want to have you committed for the heinous act, you know, for your own good.

What you did was wrong and horrific, and if it was intended as a desperate cry for help, well it worked. We heard you and we feel your internal torture, please help us help you. But first, destroy that thing, send it back to the fires of Hell from whence it was conceived.


Sometimes you've just got to be cruel to be kind.

In contrast, today's 1985 Geländewagen 280GE Cabrio may prove a cruel mistress, but I still kinda' really want it. It comes to us from, where else, Florida, and is a bodystyle that's pretty rare in any state. The two-door soft top is sufficiently different from the G500 four-door currently foisted on affluent tennis bracelet wearers so as not to be likely confused for one of those more modern trucks.

The Geländewagen was originally developed by Steyr-Daimler-Puch - makers over the years of everything from tanks to mopeds - for the German military. In preparation for its 1979 debut, the French started posting Geländewagen-Only parking signs all around Paris. Mercedes products made prior to the mid-eighties were far different creatures from the post-Lexus fare of today. Back then luxury meant heavy steel, bank vault door closures, and engines that could turn a quarter million miles only to ask, is that all you've got?. Today of course, you can get air conditioned headrests, massagers for your nether regions, and plenty of warranty claims.


This Geländewagen has none of those, and in fact its A/C isn't even hooked up. Ha! What it does have is a robust 4-wheel drive system, a Jeep-like purposeful and timeless body design, and a 2,746-cc DOHC straight six with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection. That M110.994 is a low-compression edition of the evergreen iron-cross iron block six cylinder, and was imbued at the factory with 150-bhp. This Cabrio has the 5-speed manual making the best use of that ton and a half's worth of ponies, and by ‘85 the Geländewagens had all received locking diffs for even more studly do-right off-tarmac adventuring. The seller here makes the claim that the entire front end of this one has been rebuilt - a good thing considering the potential price and sourcing of replacement parts.

Upon closer inspection, the short wheelbase body (2,400-mm) looks less like a CJ Jeep and more so like a giant Suzuki Samurai, what with its full doors and fixed B pillar. The red paint is claimed original and looks good from the pics. The seller does admit to there being some dents and rust spots, which are to be expected on a rough and tumble ride such as this. More concerning would be missing proprietary pieces like fender flares, light lenses, and such. Those all appear to be intact, as does the interior which sports an incongruously posh Nardi wheel contrasting strikingly with the remainder of the space which is severely parsimonious. Sheepskins on the front buckets add additional luxury, but do call into question the condition of their foundations.

The seller claims the odometer reads 7,835, which, as this is a grey market truck, would be the mileage in its metric system equivalent. That's far too few for something of this age that doesn't look like it's spent its life in suspended animation, so perhaps it's been around the horn once or more. Whatever, it's still pretty hard core. The fact that everything on the truck ismetric means you'd have to learn that alien method of measurement in order just to drive the thing. Thank god for community college.


This being a grey market Mercedes, it may not have all the papers necessary for residence in your particular state of mind and body, it's current tagged status not withstanding as Florida seems wackadoodle enough to let damn-near anything crawl its roads. The presence of side marker lights do indicate that it may have its Federalist papers, plus the engine is a version of one sold in the thousands here, so how hard could it be?


The Jeep spare wheel notwithstanding, this is a pretty original looking edition of the G-Class from way back before it became the de rigueur accoutrement of the high class. These hold the record for history's longest Mercedes Benz production model, and the company continues to crank out $100K-Plus versions today. Those suffer from deprecation drops rivaling that of poll numbers of presidential candidates once they open their mouths. Google Santorum and see what I mean. Go ahead, Google him. Mmmm, frothy.

Fortunately, at 26 and a few weeks old, this 280GE has likely hit bottom price-wise and may just be making the climb back out of the hole to classic status value. At $15,000 it's waaay cheaper than a new one, and is also a lot toplessier. And it's unlikely that it will lose value moving forward, considering its provenance and rarity. But it isn't competing against the Beverly Hills Bling wagons, but instead the ubiquitous and equally capable Jeep CJ and possibly Land Rover Defender models out there. And a whole lot of those are a whole lot cheaper. The question is, does the fact that there are a whole lot of 280GE Cabrios on the market make this one worth that fifteen grand asking price? What do you think, is that a good deal on a Geländewagen? Or, while good for off road, will that price make it hard to unload?


You decide!


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