Why Doesn’t Mercedes-Benz Sell a G-Wagen Pickup Anymore?
G-Wagen, G-Wagon, G-Class: whatever you call it, there’s a reason Mercedes-Benz’s insanely competent off-roader is so iconic. The SUV has served in militaries, been a Popemobile, climbed 100% grades, and become a 6-wheeled desert-conquering pickup. And it’s that last part that’s curious.
Off-road pickups like the F-150 Raptor and AEV Prospector are insanely popular, but Mercedes hasn’t cashed in on the craze. M-B did briefly make a pickup, the X-Class, but that was more utilitarian luxury tool than overlander. Mercedes has an amazing off-road vehicle in the G-Wagon, but there’s no pickup. At least, not in the US. Because while the G-Class itself isn’t available as a pickup truck anymore, Mercedes technically still sells a G-Wagon pickup.
A brief history of the Mercedes G-Wagen pickup
When the first G-Wagon rolled off the production line in 1979, a pickup version wasn’t available. There were two different wagons and a convertible initially, but a pickup truck was available later on.
Derived from a ladder-frame military vehicle design, the first G-Wagons were no-frills, bare-bones off-road beasts. Mercedes-Benz entered one into the 1980 Paris-Dakar Rally and won outright. Although not the luxurious tank known today, and not officially available in the US, many G-Wagons were nevertheless imported under ‘grey market’ laws. Europa, a California company would later officially be allowed to import G-Wagons to the US—Doug DeMuro recently bought one—before M-B starting selling them directly.
The first major update, as GQ and Car and Driver describe, came for 1990. Mercedes-Benz took the first step towards making the G-Wagon a luxury icon. There was wood trim and leather seats inside, as well as cruise control, ABS, and a V8. Although this new version, called the 463, was the most popular, there was another. As Road & Track describes, for heavy-duty use, M-B had the 461 G-Wagon. A no-nonsense workhorse, it could be ordered as a pickup truck.
And it still can.
The newest G-Class wagon and the G-Class Professional
First sold officially in the US in 2001, the G-Class (as M-B refer to it) received its second major redesign for 2019. It still has a ladder-frame and three locking differentials, but according to Car and Driver, it only shares a few parts with its predecessor. A predecessor that’s still around and kicking, though not in the US.
That 461 that came out in 1990? It’s still being made today, and according to Mercedes officials, demand is actually growing. Although primarily intended for industrial and military use, civilian versions can still be ordered in certain countries. It’s now known as the 461-series G-Class Professional, and you can buy it as a chassis-cab. And, although there isn’t a single inch of wood or leather inside, the G-Class Professional is still built by hand in the same Austrian plant as the new G-Class (also called the 463).
Could Mercedes sell a G-Wagen pickup in the US again?
The 461 wasn’t ever officially sold in the US, so Mercedes would have to invest a significant amount of time and resources to make it US-legal. Considering the demand in the US for luxurious pickups, that probably won’t happen. And anyway, American consumers wanted the more luxurious 463, not the no-frills 461.
That’s not to say Mercedes couldn’t make a pickup truck version of the current 463. Although drastically redesigned, it still features a ladder-frame design, like the G-Class Professional. So, technically, it is possible. But again, it would take a lot of time and money—and a strong customer demand.
At the moment, then, the answer is no. But at the moment, pickups with leather seats and wood trim are proving rather popular. So, who knows? It may be only a matter of time before Mercedes sells a G-Wagen pickup again.