More Capable Than the G-Wagen: The Mercedes Funmog
The Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen (or ‘G-Class’, as it’s officially called) is an iconic SUV with a long list of off-road and luxury features. Though that’s expected, considering the AMG version costs $147,000. And it’s not like buying a used one will necessarily be cheap: the G-Wagen holds its value very well for a luxury SUV. Even importing one from overseas won’t lower the price. But there is an alternative. Another Mercedes, one even more capable than the G-Wagen: the Funmog.
What is the Mercedes Funmog?
The Mercedes Funmog was, to use Mercedes’ own words, a luxury “study” based on the rugged Unimog. But not much is known about it today, because according to Car and Driver, only “a handful” were made in 1994. Truck Trend reports that, officially, 12 Funmogs were made. That makes this truck even rarer than the Ford SkyRanger.
TrucksPlanet claims that the Funmog featured many options taken from the contemporary S-Class. These included leather seats, tinted windows, improved climate control, and electrically-operated mirrors, seats, and windows. There was also a hands-free music and phone system installed because, to again quote Mercedes, this truck was for “going to the disco by Unimog.” That might explain the various bits of chromed metal on the exterior.
To be fair, the Unimog is rather utilitarian. One of the ‘luxury’ upgrades the Funmog included was carpeting. Nevertheless, considering only a dozen Funmogs were made, it appears most Unimog buyers preferred their trucks on the basic side. Price may have also been a factor. TrucksPlanet reports the Funmog cost about $86,700 in 1994. That’s the equivalent of roughly $150,500 today.
How is the Funmog Unimog more capable than the Mercedes G-Wagen?
The Funmog may have been close in price to today’s G-Wagen, but how could it possibly be better off-road than the G-Class? It helps to think of the Unimog as a Land Cruiser 70-Series or G-Class Professional, but taken to the extreme.
The G-Wagen may have three locking differentials to the Unimog’s one, but the Unimog’s chassis is designed to flex with the terrain. In addition, unlike the G-Wagen, the Funmog, like all Unimogs, also has portal axles, according to Outdoor Journal.
Motor1 reports that the latest G-Wagen can ford water up to 27.5” deep. The 408/418 series the Funmog was built from could go into water 31” deep. In addition, the 408/418 series introduced an onboard tire pressure adjustment system. Meaning, the Funmog’s driver could deflate the tires from the cabin to increase traction, then re-inflate them.
Racing the Paris-Dakar
Then, we get to racing. A G-Wagen, Top Gear reports, ran in both the 1982 and 1983 Paris-Dakar Rally races. With legendary racing driver Jackie Ickx behind the wheel, the G-Wagen came second in ‘82 and won its class in ‘83.
Meanwhile, not only are Unimogs still used as rally support vehicles, they’ve allegedly sometimes won races by complete accident.
What would it take to get a Funmog?
However, it likely wouldn’t cost too much more than that to convert a ‘normal’ Unimog into Funmog spec. It would at least give owners a chance to move the stereo system past disco.