Mercedes-Benz launched its signature off-road Geländewagen in 1979, giving it the nomenclature G in its alphanumeric name that traditionally combined this with a number referring to the engine's displacement.
Recently, the company built its half-millionth G-Class vehicle on the same Magna Steyr assembly line in Graz, Austria that has built the G-Class continuously since.
Over the decades, the G-Class has evolved from a bare-bones 4x4 to a plush status symbol revered in the world's power centers. To remind fans of its simpler beginnings, Mercedes has built a tribute model that is detailed to resemble a 1986 280 GE.
Key features include the same shade of Agave Green paint, 1970s-correct amber turn signals, and a spare tire cover from the company's historic parts bin with its enlarged Mercedes star.
Inside, the tribute vehicle includes checkered fabric typical of that time and "No. 500,000" lettering on the grab handles.
The G-Class made its debut in Toulon, France, in February 1979 at the Circuit Paul Ricard racetrack.
The focus on competence and exclusivity is another guiding theme in the success story of the G-Class starting with Recaro individual seats for driver and front passenger as optional equipment in 1981 and the interior appointments enhanced as standard in 1982.
The 463 model series offered features that made the G-Class even more attractive in everyday life for many users, for example, with permanent all-wheel drive, anti-lock braking system (ABS), and again enhanced interior appointments. Little by little, the vehicle was even given luxury attributes. The first highlight in the history of refined performance on and off the road was the Mercedes-Benz 500 GE V8. It was presented in 1993 as an exclusive small-series model. From 1998, the G 500 then was the standard top-of-the-range model of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, as the family of off-road vehicles has been called since 1993.
Mercedes-AMG performance versions of the G-Class started with the G 55 AMG Kompressor (2004), followed by the G 63 AMG and the G 65 AMG (both 2012), the G 63 AMG 6x6 (2013) and finally the Mercedes-AMG G 63 (2018). The highly exclusive models in the guise of the G 500 4x4² (2015) and Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet (2017) are also part of this tradition.
Click through our gallery for a look at some of these amazing vehicles from more than four decades of production.