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Some of today’s vehicles have unique stories to their inception. None have a birth tale quite like the Puch Geländewagen. You might be scratching your head because the name isn’t ringing a bell. This gem of sand and street is more popularly recognized as the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, as part of the G-class. Consumers can buy these rugged and capable luxury SUVs today. However, they may not be aware or know about the amazing history behind the badge.

Where it all began over 40 years ago

Geländewagen is a German word that means “off-roader.” But the vehicle itself wasn’t born in Germany. In fact, it was originally developed in the early ’70s upon the request of the Shah of Iran at the time, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

As a significant shareholder of Mercedes-Benz at the time and in part due to his need to beef up his military efforts, the Iranian king insisted engineers design a dessert-ready, all-terrain beast to best the commonly used Jeep models.

With top engineers on point, the Shah also enlisted the help of his brother, Prince Abdorreza, who was more well known as a big game hunter with connections in many sport shooting circles. These connections brought the minds of Steyr-Daimler-Puch, leading producers of classic sporting rifles, to the drawing table as well.

A joint company was formed, and the Geländewagen made its debut in February of 1979. The Austrian and Eastern European markets called it the “Puch G.” Mercedes-Benz called it the “G-Wagen.”

Everyone else began calling it the “Wolf.” The G-Wagen didn’t help the Shah of Iran save his monarchy that year as the Islamic Revolution ended his reign. However, the vehicle he commissioned continued onto greatness.

The G-Wagen through the years

Since its introduction, the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen continued its work on the front lines as a military vehicle in the German Army, later with the Canadian Army, and in recent years with the Swiss Army. This vehicle also managed to transcend into the civilian market, marrying sophisticated luxury with its hearty capability.

It became a consumer favorite as the G-Class expanded with a variety of options for lifestyle use. What began as an improvement over its Jeep military rivals, had also become more of a Range Rover, civilian competitor. It’s also been morphed into ambulance vehicle usage and other special transport operations, including the bullet-proof pope-mobile.

How the Puch Geländewagen is being used today

Mercedes-Benz continues to produce the G-Class to the public. Not much is new this year since its redesign in 2019, but it brings all the capability and luxury you’d expect from Mercedes-Benz. It comfortably seats five and features standard leather, amenities, and the best connectivity and tech-based driver assistance aids. The G-Class is also still a partner in military service. It currently serves under the flag of 60 countries.

Why it’s the perfect military partner

This hearty SUV is a perfect partner with military units worldwide, primarily due to its all-terrain capability. It can be easily outfitted with precise extras, including weaponry and armor. The Swiss Army recently commissioned an order citing the vehicle’s robust technology with easy-to-use and straightforward operation.

The Geländewagen can be lightweight, making it ideal for dessert conditions. It can be weighted for increased traction in snow and at high altitudes. It truly is a go-anywhere military must-have.

If you’re interested in a Mercedes-Benz G-Class for yourself, there won’t be any disappointments. You’ll pay a hefty penny, but you’ll be getting what some consider as the world’s most versatile and capable ride. Also, when you settle in behind the wheel, you can reflect on the long history leading back to the days of the Shah.