Okay, Okay… You Win

After last weekend’s post about my “modern” dream car was roundly mocked in Comments, I’ve decided on my modern dream car — and it’s a 2020 model withal: the Mercedes Benz G550 Geländewagen:

Let’s recap:  it was originally a .dotmil truck, the civilian version of which was first released back in 1979, and has continued more or less unchanged ever since — the longest production model in Mercedes Benz’s history.  (I know:  the 1981 modifications added frilly stuff like automatic transmission and A/C, but that’s all water under the bridge now.)  So technically, the G-wagen is a 1980s car/truck which while modified over the years, has never relinquished its true ethos.  Try saying that  about any other car, I dare ya.

Tech specs for the 2020 model are:  a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine which delivers 416 horsepower / 450 ft-lbs torque, outrageous off-road capabilities, and fuel consumption which gives the Greens sleepless nights, largely because… wait for it… it wasn’t designed by some fucking wind tunnel sycophants.

It presses all my buttons:  a storied heritage, an unchanged appearance (why change it when you got it right first time?), massive power, virtual indestructibility, and political incorrectness.

And because I’m an Old Phartte (First Class), I love the interior luxury as well:

Finally, it has enough room to carry all the gun gear I’d ever want to:

Yeah I know:  the G550 costs over $130 grand (which, considering that the Maserati QP it replaced in my affections costs well over $160 grand, means I’d actually be saving money to spend on a new shotgun).   It’s not as roomy inside as, say, a Chevy Tahoe, but I don’t have to schlep teenage kids around anymore — it’s me and New Wife + guns/groceries for 99.99% of the time.  And yes, it’s a bit of a hassle to get into because of its high ground clearance —  hence the addition of retractable step rails (a 1990s modification).

And no:  I’m not interested in the souped-up AMG version because I don’t need the additional power and concomitant stiffer suspension/less comfortable ride.  I’ll leave that option to the Kim Kardashians of this world who seem to enjoy jiggling around.

I swear to you all:  if I win the stupid lottery in time, I’ll arrive at Boomershoot 2020 in one of these.  Just watch me.


  1. Probably the perfect vehicle for you. I would drive one first, though, if they let you. (Before we give you the keys,could we see your last three years of tax returns, please?) I understand that flat windshield is problematic with the fancy interior and reflections.
    More power to you though, I can see you behind the wheel. What color though?

      1. lol
        My wifes 2nd hand 2006 Equinox has one and several times a year I have to climb up on top with the needle nozzle on the shop vac and blow the vent holes out which clog up with tree dust and leak into the cabin. It’s a GM design flaw in that the whole thing sets down in a trough and nowhere for rain to drain off cept down through those internal drain holes. Other than that it seems to be a pretty decent vehicle all the way around. She puts maybe 2000 miles on it per year. But yeah, moon roof, I see no point.

        1. Moon roof/Sun roof; both allow heart to escape straight up, when it would otherwise wash around to inside roof making your head sweat.

          I’m not saying it’s a GOOD reason, mind.

  2. A friend motored all around East Germany in a G- Wagon in the 80s. Look up Brixmis and the Potsdam agreement to explain the what and why. He was TDY from the Royal Engineers to Military Intelligence and did two tours playing “sneaky peepy” with the Russians. Their G-Wagons had a roof hatch for photography and carried a bunch of camping supplies as they roamed the German countryside for a couple of days at a time. Brixmis personnel usually interacted with the Russians in cordial fashion but were instructed to ignore the East German secret police (Stasi or “narcs” in slang) because the East German government had no legal standing according to the immediate post-war agreements that Brixmis operated under. Friend said that the Mercedes was very good at out running the vile cars driven by the lower level Stasi operators. He watched Stasi agents blow up their engines as they tried to catch the G-Wagon.

  3. I guess you don’t like Corvettes? I don’t know how to drive so all I can say about cars is: Pretty! Are there any American cars you like as much German ones?

    1. At my age, ALL sports cars (including Corvettes) are beyond me, given that I need a crane to get my fat ass out of their seats (8″ off the road, or so it seems). The only reason to get a Corvette is price — it’s dollar for dollar the best “supercar” available anywhere. (And the new 2020 “mid-engine” model looks like a doozy.)
      But I don’t like any American cars, period, and certainly none compared to any German car (Porsche, BMW, Merc, Audi or even VW).
      American trucks, maybe; but I’d still take a Toyota Tacoma ahead of most of them, in that I don’t have any use for a large truck anyway.

      1. Kim
        I’m on my second Tacoma. THe first lasted 12 years and 235k miles before it was demolished by a deer. IT was an 02 extended cab 5 speed manual with 4WD for mud and snow.

        My current is a 09 double cab TRD off road package bought with less than 70k miles now with 135k miles I think. Down side is that its an automatic and they replaced the 4wd stick with a knob and solonoid to go into 4wd. Truck still runs like a champ.

        I heard the current 2019+ 3rd generation Tacomas aren’t that great.

        The first and second generation tacomas had frame rust rot issues that Toyota replaced my frame on the 02.

        My brother in law had two tacomas that each lasted 300k+ miles.


  4. In the words of Dan Neil: “Taking it off-road is like asking a champion pole vaulter to compete in a black cocktail dress. She might be able to clear the bar but there won’t be much dress left.”

    1. My idea of “off-road” is the parking lot at Cabela’s.
      I jest, but only a little. All I ask is that the thing be capable of handling a rough dirt road, a little mud or a short prairie jog without getting stuck or turning over.

    2. Neil adds:
      “For lovers of unwieldy paramilitary luxury, the bad news is that the gas-powered G-Wagen is doomed. European emissions rules will kill it, kill it with fire. I give the civilian version four more years. The good news is that none of the G-Wagen’s ass-kicking charms need be lost in the model’s inevitable conversion to electrification.”

    1. All the gun gear I’d need for that particular trip… couple rifles OR couple shotguns, etc.
      It’s the ammo which takes up space.

      1. An independent, double-wishbone front suspension in its redesign, there’s still a solid axle in the rear.

  5. I know of a car eek that had one trucked to Mexico. worked for a car parts company and the had used to make parts. used it as a template

    One would work for me. Mercedes are good cars

  6. “….for the 2020 model are: a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine which delivers 416 horsepower…” And, “..originally a .dotmil truck…” In whose dot mil was this an issue vehicle? The same guys who got their asses kicked 70 years ago because, among other reasons, they kept building labor intensive small quantities of really neat cutting edge tech that they couldn’t keep running?

    This turbo thing, especially twin turbos, has become endemic. It will not end well.

    Merc, and its prospective customers, would have been better served by dumping the turbo obsession, adding a liter and a half (or, maybe, two) and living with 50-60 fewer normally aspirated horses that produced a much flatter torque curve. With real torque, not fake torque. Then again, Merc customers cruise the showroom in Guccis and Prada, so docility needs to be high on the list.

    CAFE requirements and the Green Gestapo have driven automakers into a weight reduction frenzy to improve MPG and since the engine is a big hunk of weight, it, along with sheet metal, have borne the brunt of the assault. Tiny little engines with lots of boost are used to recover the Lost Horsepower that used to be part and parcel of “normal” size engines; the torque those engines routinely doled out is, alas, gone forever, replaced by “fake torque” attempts with higher RPM.

    I’ve long considered what an excellent, if not ideal, “universal” vehicle – very good to excellent off-road capability and acceptable manners on the street (“outstanding” off-road capability requires track, but pavement use suffers with that), and my search is still unrequited. I suspect, though, it resembles a 1950s-era Dodge Power Wagon with a late ’70s or early ’80s 350-400 inch V-8 (450-500 inches if it’s a diesel), extended cab, 8 ft bed, at least 6 forward manual speeds, 4-5K lbs payload capacity and a PTO. Oh, and 40-45 gallons of on-board fuel. It ain’t a polite turbocharged gizmo from the Black Forest.

    It’s the off-road and “having to work for a living” that requires the muscle and some degree of balance, anything can do street or smooth, grassy fields.

    1. Those older Power Wagons look like theyre tough to beat and they were built when trucks were used to go off road and actually for work than the new ones.

      A state fair had an old power wagon on display that used for fire fighting in the brush. I think they had it on display to bring attention to their need for newer equipment. That older power wagon lasted decades. I Doubt the new one will last half as log.


    2. The older (1990s-early 2000s) G500 had a 5-liter V8, which I actually prefer. But the damn thing bounced around as much as a Jeep Wrangler. The newer G-wagens ride a lot better.
      By the way, the best thing about the old Power Wagons were their looks. In terms of ride comfort, it was like being towed on a donkey cart on a farm road at 50mph. Worse than a SA Army Bedford, and that was awful.

      1. That “IFS” on the current generation is one of the reasons for that smoother ride, but I agree with your views on the G500, which is why the ideal was always the G630. Since the Grosser Mercedes, there’s been no engine like the 6.3 – just a beast!
        IIRC, the Power Wagons were in response to an RFP from Curt LeMay at SAC who needed an all weather four door pickup for SAC ready crews, and the AP’s that patrolled the perimeters of his airfields – many of which, if not most, were located in northern climes.

  7. “the Kim Kardashians of this world who seem to enjoy jiggling around.”

    You are a VERY Bad Man.

    OTOH, She who lives by the jiggle can bloody well deal with being mocked for the jiggle.

    I will note, though, that at least none of the K girls are anorexic idiots with no hips and their ribs showing. I see far too goddamned much of that on magazine covers. Including a publication named ‘Shape’ which, in the years I have been noticing, has yet to feature a cover model who HAS one.

  8. “…..In terms of ride comfort, it was like being towed on a donkey cart on a farm road at 50mph.”

    So, you’ve ridden in Power Wagons, then?

    I won’t contest your assessment; a friend has one that’s been in mid-restoration for about 6 years; before it went on blocks for that I got to drive it. “Refined” is not a word I would use to describe it; it reminded me of alloy-framed .357 snubbies: kills on one end, wounds on the other, and it’s hard telling them apart.

    Way back when, I had a late-’80s F250HD 4WD Super Cab; the HD option had F350-size frame cross section and running gear, including rear springs, still had the I-Beam in front but the spring rate on the coils was about 20% heavier than the HD Snow Plow package (one tipoff, besides the Dana axle numbers, was the rear brake shoes – 350s had 3″ wide shoes, 250s had 2.5 inch. Mine had the 3s, and the bigger discs up front). I once had 7,200 lbs of dirt in it and it sat Perfectly Level (that 7K wasn’t an estimate, I ran it across a set of certified scales to satisfy my curiosity). If there was a way to get the suspension to move while driving I never found it. The 5-speed manual really needed to be a 6-speed, the 351 Cleveland had more than enough torque, the 13 inch clutch wore your left leg out, and the 38 gallons of regular in the 2 tanks was about 15 gallons short. Two inches short of 21 feet, it couldn’t be parked anywhere and had a turning radius to match, but it would go anywhere and carry or tow anything.

    What it needed was a little less civilization; the gauges were Typical De-Troit – the oil pressure gauge was not an analog readout of actual pressure, it was a yes-no switch, electrical almost the same. Gas gauge was analog, though (good thing it didn’t have a clock – the rate of movement of the minute hand and gas gauge needle would have been indistinguishable). A flat, smooth NASCAR dash with functioning, round S-W stuff would have been preferred, could have used a bigger radiator, sheet metal one gauge number thicker would have been nice, and I wouldn’t have complained if it had a bit more sound insulation. But it was a truck, and a Working Truck at that. Like the difference between 380 and 45ACP, compact or full size, one has to decide what inconveniences one will put up with to accomplish Life’s tasks. Do you want to bring 2 pallets of sod home, or do you want to make 12 trips in your 4Runner?

    Never should have sold it; I miss being on the Exxon-Mobile Christmas card list.

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