Five ways to make it better
1 swap the engine
One route to improved economy and performance is a swap to a later turbo-diesel Mercedes engine. The OM606 unit from the 1990s E-Class is especially popular, but be warned – it’s not a job for the faint-hearted nor is it a cheap one if done properly. A specialist may charge upwards of £10,000 once the cost of overhauling the donor engine is taken into account.
2 give it some tlc
If you want to keep your early example strictly original, then one of the best things you can do is to ensure that it’s in perfect mechanical health. A thorough service with all of the maintenance items – such as greasing of the 4x4 system – attended to will let the true quality of the G-Wagen shine through. Neglect can result in big bills so this is well worthwhile.
3 give it a facelift
Updating an early model with a fresher grille and light units is a popular update, and while original Mercedes parts are pricey you’ll find suitable aftermarket bits online. Expect to pay a couple of hundred pounds each for a grille and updated rear light units, while the G-Class Centre sells a set of clear indicator lenses for £117. Much depends on your views on originality, though.
4 suspension refresh
Age and neglect will soon take its toll on the suspension, leading to a poor ride and soggy handling. But rather than opting for upgrades, a thorough overhaul with new and original-spec dampers and bushes will pay dividends. A specialist will charge £15002000 for a complete rebush but it’s money well-spent because it transforms the car’s feel.
5 weather proofing
Water leaks are never good news in a classic, and perished window seals lead to corrosion in the bottoms of the G-Wagen’s doors. If they are looking past their best then a replacement set costs around £140 if you go for genuine Mercedes parts, and fitting is straightforward. It’s an affordable way to prevent future problems, so it’s well worth looking into.