DaimlerChrysler offers a series of sport utility vehicles to the public under the Mercedes-Benz brand as G-Class. Commonly referred to as the G-Wagen, short for Geländewagen (or Cross-Country Vehicle), Mercedes secured military contracts for the vehicle in the late 1970s and offered a civilian version to the public in 1979. Never an entirely Mercedes product, the G-Wagen was a joint Steyr-Daimler-Puch development and are assembled by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria.
The chassis was revised for 1990 as the W463 with anti-lock brakes and a full trio of electronically-locking differentials. The V8-powered 500GE was new for 1993, catering to more of a luxury than off-road crowd with only center and rear differential locks and a luxurious cabin of leather and wood. This luxury-Wagen lasted just two years, however. All G-Wagens began using Mercedes-Benz’s new letter-first naming scheme in 1994.
The range was refreshed again in 1997, including the introduction of a power-topped convertible and two new engines, the turbo 2.9 L Diesel and the V6-powered (M112 motor) G320 - previous years’ G320s were outfitted with the M104 I6. The luxury G-wagen returned for 1998 as the G500, with official sales beginning in the United States in 2002 at $75,000. The 349 hp (260 kW) G55 AMG cemented the vehicle in the American market, however, with many snapped up by celebrities. A 476 hp (355 kW) G55, introduced in 2004, could hit 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds.