A niche car for a discerning audience, New Yorkers love these boxy Geländewagens (German for cross country vehicle). And this 1980s 280GE is certainly a far cry from the flashy, luxury-minded G55 AMG [$119,450] that Hilary Duff is riding around tinsel town. But it doesn’t matter if the owner is an authentic trail rider or a yuppie poser compensating for smaller things, these G Wagons are extremely capable thanks to their truck based underpinnings, four-wheel drive and three fully locking differentials (among a select group of vehicles to offer this). They were designed to be light duty military vehicles for crissakes so Greenwich Street potholes shouldn’t pose much of a problem.Interestingly, Mercedes did not officially start selling G-Wagons in the U.S. until the 90s, so earlier examples like this 280GE were likely imported, “Grey Market” cars that needed costly modifications in order to meet DOT standards for crash safety and emissions.
Despite their hefty price tags and gussied up interiors, modern G-Wagons won’t coddle occupants like a Navigator or Escalade. And with 80 square feet of cargo room, them won’t hold all that much either. The dated, truck-based platform goes all the way back to 1979, the tippy body makes for plenty of body roll, steering feel is heavy and getting in and out ain’t all that easy for a six figure luxury SUV. But the G-Wagon’s relative rarity and macho design aesthetic make them a popular choice among the rich and famous. Think of them as dressed up Wranglers or the Mercedes equivalent of a Defender.