This European-Market Gelandewagen May be the Hippest G Wagon You Can Buy
The G-Class is objectively cool. It is a military-grade SUV, one of the only vehicles to come from the factory with multiple locking differentials, and with a history of overlanding records that stretches back for decades. The only problem is that most G Wagons are chromed-up movie-star transporters. But Mercedes-Benz once sold its G-Class in Europe badged as the Puch. I think this imported Puch G Wagon is the hippest Mercedes-Benz you can buy.
This is not a Mercedes-Benz G Wagon
Your eyes deceive you. You are not looking at a Mercedes-Benz. This is a European-Market, 1984 Puch 230GE SUV. It was recently listed for sale on the Cars & Bids auction website.
Its drivetrain is a 2.3-liter I4 engine with a four-speed manual transmission and a 4WD chassis complete with the G Wagon’s signature locking differentials. It was initially sold in the Swiss marke. This is why its lack the Mercedes badges. Brand new, it was only rated for 125 horsepower and 142 lb-ft of torque: an AMG special-edition, this Puch certainly is not.
Features on this specific vehicle include skid plates, headlight guards, and an aftermarket trailer hitch. As an entry-level SUV, it just has manual door locks and manual windows. It does, however, have a rear windshield wiper. Oh, what luxury!
Who built the G Class?
Back in the 1970s, Mercedes-Benz decided to get into the military 4×4 market. It joined up with Steyr-Daimler-Puch, a truck manufacturer headquartered in Austria. They developed the G-Class SUV and bid for military contracts. They also decided to toss a civilian version onto the market to see how it did.
In most places, the companies decided to badge this truck as a Mercedes-Benz, as Mercedes wasn’t yet an ultra-luxurious brand. Eastern European markets got the Puch-badged G Wagon. Because Puch already had a following in Austria and Switzerland, those markets got the Puch SUV, too.
The G-Class hit the market in 1979, and it’s still going stronger than ever. Mercedes-Benz and Steyr (which still manufacturers the SUV in Austria) finally redesigned it for the 2019 model year. The Puch badge has gone the way of the Dodo, and in the North American market, the G-Class has transformed into a chrome-covered status symbol that sometimes fetches twice MSRP.
But this imported Puch SUV makes an entirely different statement.
A Puch G-Class may be the hippest Mercedes-Benz that money can buy
Driving around in a Puch G-Class would be quite a statement. It would signal that you understand the mechanical superiority of this SUV. You understand it so well, in fact, that you couldn’t care less about the Mercedes-Benz badge. Driving around in this specific Puch G-Class would also signal that you’re so important that you never need to drive faster than 60 mph.
I love the color combination of this 1984 Puch G Wagon. Of course, its plaid interior in tan is classic. But paired with the Cactus Green paint, the entire thing is a sepia-colored blast from the past. If your favorite vintage-look Instagram filter was a truck, it would be this G Wagon. What could be hipper than that?
If you’ve ever poked around on foreign classifieds, you know these early G Wagons are much more common in two-doors. Four-door Mercedes-Benz G Wagons can command quite a premium (still a rounding error in the budget of a 2023 G-Class buyer). But this four-door Puch went for just $17k. I’d say that’s a steal. However, springing for a turbo to get it up to 150 horsepower wouldn’t be a bad splurge.
Next, learn about the 6×6 Land Rover Defender that might be even cooler than the Mercedes-Benz 6×6 or see an old Mercedes-Benz G500 cabriolet reviewed in the video below: