Owning a Mercedes G-wagen]
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.’