Rich people like body-on-frame SUVs, too.
That’s the takeaway from the runaway success of Mercedes-Benz’s high-dollar G Wagen (or G class as it’s called back in Deutschland), a box-on-wheels that’s been around in essentially the same form — and hand-built in the same Austrian plant — since 1979.
Despite threats from competitors inside and outside Mercedes’ walls that nearly killed the SUV, the G Wagen’s enduring can-do appeal has earned it wealthy fans around the globe.
Originally built for military and safari applications, the G Wagen in its first few decades entered the U.S. through gray-market importing. Death by discontinuation lurked every time global sales slowed.
So, too, did death by replacement. Mercedes’ first unibody crossover, the M class — now known as the GLE — was designed to replace the G class when the M went on sale in 1997.