The Mercedes G-Wagen is hilariously expensive and the embodiment of ostentation. But if you can look past many of the people who buy them, the G-Class is a durable and capable off-roader, and the build quality is probably worth it. Mercedes is committed to the model for the long term.
An excellent quality about the G-Wagen is how little its boxy exterior has changed since its inception. Even aging examples, with a bit of love, can look very much like the modern rig — for less. Case in point: this 1988 Mercedes 300GD that’s up for auction on Bring a Trailer.
That 300GD has the largest diesel engine Mercedes offered on the 460, the 3.0-liter inline-five. It has a five-speed manual transmission, a dual-range transfer case and locking differentials. Crucially for California residents, it’s a pre-1997 diesel engine, so it does not need to pass smog regulations.
Note that this is not the most show-quality, pristine vintage off-roader one could find. It lived a previous life in Norway before being imported, and it shows with some notable instances of bubbling and corrosion on the bodywork. Total mileage on that diesel engine is unknown.
Counterpoints? It’s affordable. Current bidding is significantly under $10,000. A little weathering may add some charm if you’re using the G-Wagen for family beach house duty. It could also be a reasonably priced base for a restoration.
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