Own­ing a Mercedes G-wa­gen]

Classic Cars (UK) - - Buying Guide -

Gavin Helme, Mercedes-benz UK

Gavin bought his first G in 1999. He now owns the 1991 300GD here as well as a 1990 230GE.

‘I’ve worked for Mercedes since the 463 was launched and I fell in love with the G-wa­gen af­ter driv­ing my boss’s early car,’ he re­calls. ‘They have al­ways been built by hand, hence their rar­ity, which I love along with the rugged looks. But own­ing one is a com­mit­ment – you have to use it reg­u­larly be­cause leav­ing it stand­ing leads to de­te­ri­o­ra­tion. Ser­vic­ing is im­por­tant – keep on top of brakes, diff locks and run­ning gear to avoid big bills.

‘Parts avail­abil­ity is gen­er­ally very good and so is DIY main­te­nance – I do most of the work on my cars my­self. On av­er­age I spend £1200 per year, in­clud­ing Mots (£150), ser­vic­ing (£250) and pe­ri­odic jobs (£800). How­ever, work can be hard to bud­get for be­cause parts can be sur­pris­ingly cheap or very costly, it’s all very in­con­sis­tent.’

Mike Axel-berg, G-wa­gen Reg­is­ter

Mike owns three G-wa­gens and has owned three oth­ers, ‘I’ve owned and worked on G-wa­gens for 15 years and have seen cars change hands for tens of thou­sands of pounds that were be­yond eco­nom­i­cally sav­ing. The pos­si­bil­ity of buy­ing a night­mare is very real – but if you can find a good one you’ll un­der­stand why they have such a cult fol­low­ing. I’ve driven mine in win­try weather that would have left my pre­vi­ous Land Rovers stranded.

‘While a bad G-wa­gen will be a money pit, a good one can cost vir­tu­ally noth­ing to main­ten – my big­gest bill in 14 years of own­er­ship was £600 for re­built front brake calipers. The G is easy to ser­vice at home, which helps to cut costs fur­ther. I had one car for 15 years and in all that time it just needed a new bulb and a wheel bear­ing. The key is plenty of pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance with a com­pre­hen­sive an­nual ser­vice. Heavy ex­pense will come from ne­glected cars need­ing ma­jor rust re­pairs. The run­ning gear is really re­li­able and su­per strong.’

Ed­die Gilmartin, Car­dock Clas­sics

‘I’ve owned quite a few G-wa­gens in­clud­ing my ev­ery­day car which I bought 12 years ago with 600k doc­u­mented miles on the clock. Since then I’ve added just over 500k miles, and spent around £20k in to­tal. I’ve re­placed ev­ery sin­gle bear­ing, bush­ing and mount­ing in the driv­e­train over the years, and in­fre­quent items like en­gine and trans­fer case mounts. No in­di­vid­ual item jumps off the page as be­ing big-ticket.

‘The fac­tory-fit­ted 88bhp en­gine wasn’t pow­er­ful enough so I swapped it at 800k miles for a 160bhp unit – though the orig­i­nal is still go­ing strong in an­other G.

‘Even with 1.1 mil­lion miles un­der its belt my car still has its orig­i­nal axles. The key is to ser­vice it be­yond the fac­tory sched­ules – oil ev­ery 3000 miles and fil­ters ev­ery 6000, and an an­nual oil change for the diffs and gear­box.

‘It’s taken me to North Africa and across Europe. I’ve also taken it round the Nür­bur­gring – but that was with the orig­i­nal en­gine, so a lap took 35 min­utes... I also use it for some pretty se­ri­ous off-road­ing but as my ev­ery­day trans­port it also has to do the school run and shop­ping.

‘What­ever I use it for it seems to do 21mpg but af­ter fit­ting a mil­i­tary-spec plas­tic fuel tank the range is around 400 miles in­stead of the 250. My G-wa­gen can cope with what­ever I ask of it – I can’t think of a more ver­sa­tile car.’

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