This week on “Rare Finds,” we’ve tracked down one of the most capable, luxurious, and historical European vehicles ever made. This 1982 Mercedes 280 GE represents one of the earliest Mercedes Gelaendewagens to roll off of the assembly line, but its spartan, rugged character still impress over thirty years later. With low mileage and a great pedigree, this G-wagen is a piece of automotive history and a must-have for any Mercedes enthusiast.
The G-wagen was born out of a joint venture among Mercedes-Benz, Steyr, and Puch in 1979 in an effort to create the ultimate go-anywhere machine. Unsurprisingly, the first G-wagens were nothing like their modern brethren, as cloth seats, manual transmissions, and crank windows were the norm for the early trucks. However, these early vehicles did share one crucial element with the modern G-wagen; they were prohibitively expensive, especially in America. Being hand-built in Austria with the most durable parts certainly wasn’t cost-effective, and G-wagen customers felt the full brunt. The cars were unavailable in the US due to emissions and safety regulations, so a gray market of very rich Americans evolved to bring the G stateside. Though official production numbers are unavailable, all of these factors make it certain that the number of early G-wagens in the States is low.
The G-wagen was born and bred as a capable off-roader, but it accomplished this aim with minimal technology and innovative features. The 1982 model lacked antilock brakes, adjustable suspension, and any sort of electronic nanny, though it did have Mercedes-Benz’s famous 2.8-liter straight-six gasoline engine under the hood. In its guise with the G-wagen, the 2.8-liter unit produced 154 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, numbers that seem modest but are perfectly capable of hauling the big G up steep grades. The engine is also known as one of the smoothest, most reliable engines produced by Mercedes, making an appearance in the famous W126 280SE and earning itself a reputation amongst collectors.
This particular G-wagen is a very nice example of the off-road heritage and quality that went into the manufacturing process. Unbelievably, this 1982 Mercedes-Benz 280 GE has only 120,000 original miles to go along with a number of service records. Its cloth and vinyl interior is entirely intact and clean, and the bodywork looks straight and largely rust-free, save for a few spots on the front bumper and spotlights. The dashboard looks to have no shrinkage or sun fading, and the alloy wheels are in nearly mint condition. Key, too, is that the car comes with a spare tire attached to the rear, though it is unknown whether the spare is original to the car.
This truck represents the top-shelf of early G-wagens for sale in the US. Its service history, low mileage, and great bodywork make it a vehicle that’s ready to be enjoyed from the start. And at an asking price of $14,500, this G-wagen is well within reach of the aspiring off-road collector looking for a bit of rugged European flair.
You can check out this week’s featured car on Craigslist.
Please enjoy this TFLcar.com video review of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-class SUV…
Frank caught automotive fever early in life. Hailing from a long line of car fanatics, he was able to recite the year and model of every car that passed him by age five. His passion and love for the automobile have only grown since then. When not thinking about cars, he is reading, writing, learning, or dreaming about them. His area of expertise is in the realm of German and Italian cars, of which Porsche is a favorite. Frank currently resides in the heart of NASCAR country in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his family. He enjoys driving exotic cars in the beautiful Carolina weather.