The G-Wagon (short for ‘Geländewagen’ or ‘terrain vehicle’) was developed as a military vehicle from a suggestion by the Shah of Iran (at the time a significant Mercedes-Benz shareholder). In an ode to Sir Michael Caine…not many people know that.
A civilian version – the W460 as offered here – was introduced at a press event held at the off-road proving ground in Toulon, France and went on sale in September 1979 with three engine choices and five body variants. Over the next decade, the engine and transmission choices were expanded or updated along with more optional creature comforts such as air conditioning, automatic transmission, power windows, etc.
The G-Wagon gained global fame in 1980 when Mercedes-Benz built the ‘Popemobile’ based on 230 G cabriolet during the first visit of Pope John Paul II in Germany.
The first major refinements were introduced in 1981, including an automatic transmission, air conditioning, an auxiliary fuel tank, protective headlamp grilles and a cable winch. In 1982, more comfortable and supportive front seats, auxiliary heating, wider tires and optional fender flares were introduced. For its 1985 model year, differential locks, central door locking and a tachometer became standard.
By 1986 over 50,000 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagons had been produced – a fine, unadulterated example of which is offered here. Production continued until 1991 when the W461 was introduced.
A testament to its longevity, the G-Wagon remains in production and is one of the longest-produced vehicles in Mercedes’ history with a span of 42 years…only pipped to the post by the Unimog. On 4th December 2020, the 400,000th G-Wagon was built.
This particular W460 received its first UK registration in November, 1986. During the intervening 35 years, it has been enjoyed by nine former keepers before being acquired by the current custodian in the summer of 2021. The current keeper is something of a Mercedes expert and immediately realised this rather special car was too good to be kept for his intended use as a weekend dog walking car.
The car has covered just 5,879 miles in the past 15 years and is in exceptional condition for its 35 years.
The G-Wagon underwent a full, body-off restoration sometime around the mid-to-late noughties and four years ago received a full repaint in the original 8424 Topaz Brown found on many Mercedes-Benz models in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Intended to be an integral part of an evolving 1980s collection, the current custodian has reluctantly decided to offer it up for sale so a new keeper can enjoy the car as much as he had intended.
Along with the V5C, there is a valid MoT valid to 19th October 2022 which it received with no advisories. There is also a recent and comprehensive VID Check which records ‘all clear’ in each of the categories and an interesting data sheet on the vehicle from LastVIN.com.
There are two sets of keys - both sets are original, along with a box file of parts, service and maintenance records and a separate sleeve of information on the UK chapter of the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon Owner’s Association.
Finished in glorious autumnal colours throughout, the interior of this 1986 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon is a throwback to an altogether different automotive era when things were simpler, less complicated and far easier to live with.
While not quite in concours condition, the interior of this automotive gem presents in extraordinarily good condition, to the extent that the writer frequently had to remind himself that this is a thirty-five-year-old off-road trailblazer and would last have looked this tidy when around five years old.
The furniture is clad in original-spec check cloth upholstery and there is a swathe of mustard coloured carpeting throughout. The dashboard, sun visors and door cards present in exceptional condition for its age and mileage, as does the overall condition of the roof liner. The Blaupunkt London SQM-37 radio/cassette is an original factory fitted unit, which was optional at the time.
To be ultra critical there is a slight fraying to the right edge of the driver’s seat and a small tear in the door card of the rear door (both as pictured). In addition, there are end pieces of the interior passenger window trim missing, again as pictured, with image inserts conversely showing the driver’s side as being correct.
Presented in original Topaz Brown (Code 8424) the excellent condition of the exterior matches that of the inside and is indicative of the love and care afforded the car during the past few years since its rebuild.
The front and rear bumpers are in remarkable condition and blemish-free. The refurbished but original 16-inch steelies are shod with a set of new ‘General All-Terrain 2’ tyres. The custodian has kept the car in a garaged state when not in use. The light lenses are clear and show no hint of sun-bleaching often associated with a car of this age.
A cursory glance down each flank of the car shows no evidence of damage and even the front number plate and scuff plate - for all their vulnerability, remain blemish free. Fitted for the original Blaupunkt audio system is a unique Hirschmann AUTA 360 KA side-mount antenna.
While admittedly there isn’t much of it, the brightwork around the car presents again in excellent condition with no evidence of pitting usually associated with older vehicles.
This particular G-Wagon is the more desirable 300 GD model with the strong, 3.0-litre five-cylinder OM617 diesel engine paired with a five-speed manual gearbox. The 300 GD was the most popular model at the time. However, despite the availability of turbocharged diesel engines in other Mercedes-Benz vehicles, one was never fitted to the W460. Other, petrol-engined G-Wagons in the line-up were notorious for being grossly underpowered.
The custodian reports this G-Wagon to be in excellent mechanical condition with steering, brakes and the diesel engine performing as well as their respective engineers intended.
This writer and photographer was privileged to have been given the keys for the photo shoot and the G-Wagon required frequent repositioning to capture the best autumnal light. At each and every ask, engine fired up first time and ticked over sweetly.
The gearbox connected smoothly and the clutch engaged with no drama, only underneath do we see any evidence of its 35 years but even then, much of the discolouring is natural oxidation and there are no signs that the car has ever been welded which is quite remarkable.
1986 brought us cinematic treasures such as Top Gun, Aliens, The Three Amigos and Little Shop of Horrors. It also afforded – for the second time that century – a visit from Halley’s Comet and, before that year was out, Phantom of the Opera would make its London West End debut.
On October 19th 1986, this magnificent example of the Mk1 W460 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon rolled off the Steyr-Daimler-Puch (SDP) production line in Graz, Austria.
The new keeper of D628 UCW will have a tough act to follow in maintaining the excellent condition of this car. This writer has not seen another 35-year-old W460 like it and if he was in a position to buy the car would certainly have been bidding on this one.
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