Versatile missions: the G-Class in the military
Although the G was not designed as a military vehicle, there were already deliberations during the development phase in the mid-1970s on how an army variant could be derived from the off-road vehicle.
At first, the armies of Argentina and Norway, amongst others, opted for the Mercedes-Benz G. The armed forces of Denmark, Canada, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States of America also used the G-model. Austria and Switzerland ordered corresponding vehicles with the Puch trademark. As a result, Steyr-Daimler-Puch delivered the first G-models to the Austrian Armed Forces in 1985.
To some extent, the G-Class is already in service in its second generation today: the armed forces of Switzerland, for example, are acquiring 3200 new vehicles in all from 2016 to 2020. The conceptionally identical yet technically significantly advanced G 300 CDI models are replacing the proven Puch 230 G models delivered from 1989.
In 2008, Australia ordered 1200 G-Class vehicles for its military. Of them, 600 vehicles were delivered in the newly developed 6x6 configuration. These are G-Class vehicles with three axles and all-wheel drive to meet the special payload requirements of the Australian Army. This new variant of the G-Class also benefited demanding private customers. Because it provided the basis for the highly exclusive G 63 AMG 6x6, which was initially presented as a show car in 2013.
In Germany in the early 1980s, the G-model was at first purchased by other public operators that placed extremely high demands on the off-road capabilities and the handling on the road. They included the German Federal Border Guard. From the early 1990s, the German Armed Forces also started to purchase the G-Class. The army integrated the vehicle into its motor pool under the name ‘Wolf’.
In addition to the near-production military versions of the G-model, there were also variants with in part stark differences. This applied to the Peugeot P 4. It was created based on the G-model, but was equipped with petrol and diesel engines of the Peugeot 504 and transmissions of the Peugeot 604. From 1981 to 1985, the Peugeot plant in Sochaux built 7500 vehicles, and some 6000 more P 4s were later built at Panhard until 1988.
Kaelble Company in Backnang, less than 30 kilometres to the north and east of Stuttgart, also recognised the capabilities of the G-model for military use. In 1982, the company, which was known mainly for tractor units and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, created the GLF 1, the prototype of an off-road vehicle based on the Mercedes-Benz 240 GD. However, the vehicle with special body and modified chassis with independent suspension never went into production.