With its fat tires, side exhausts, and window nets ’Project Gelandewagen’ is as unlikely a racer as it gets

What do you get when you throw Mercedes’ Chief Design Officer, Gorden Wagener, and Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Artistic Director, Virgil Abloh, in a room and task them with redesigning the legendary Mercedes-Benz G-Class? Our first instinct would be something like the Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Laundaulet complete with a lavish, Vuitton inspired cabin fit for a movie star, but that instinct is completely off the mark as the result of this unlikely collaboration is something called ’Project Gelandewagen,’ and it’s more German Touring Car Championship than Hollywood Boulevard.

A one-make series with just these G-Wagons, please!

Did You Know You Needed A DTM-Inspired Mercedes-Benz G-Class? Neither DId We, Until Now
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Us here at TopSpeed.com love to deliver to you the coolest renders that transport us all into that beautiful, wonderous ’what if?’ world where everything is possible. However, rarely does a manufacturer back such a project, so, when that happens, you know we’re talking about something special and, indeed, Mercedes-Benz plans to support an international charity for the arts by selling via Sotheby’ s a 1/3 scale model of ’Project Gelandewagen’. Oh, and this isn’t a render, this is a real SUV.

But it’s an SUV quite like no other because, while it looks broadly like the G-Wagon we know and love, it was conceived to do something that no other G has ever done before: race around in circles. Mercedes-Benz argued in its press release that, while the G-Class was successful in stuff like the Dakar Rally, it never really raced on either road courses or ovals. That much is true, and it makes sense since racing a brick-shaped SUV isn’t something that would occur to most people. Luckily, it did occur to Abloh and Wagener, both G-Class owners.

They decided to stick an ultra-wide body kit onto what probably was once a G63 AMG and do away with such features as turn signals, taillights, exterior rear-view mirrors, and even door handles. There’s only a strap attached to the door to help you pull the door, and even the headlights have been covered. Adding to the "simplicity" is the pearl white paint job that isn’t that pearl in some places as the duo decided to sand down some areas such as the front fender flares for that all-important feel of timelessness.

There are no scoops, vents, or wings to ruin the rectangular shape of the G-Wagon, although there’s some color thrown in the mix. The quad side exhausts, for instance, are blue and the fat slicks that wrap around the five-spoke monoblock wheels feature yellow, NASCAR-esque writing on them that tells you precisely what vehicle this is that you’re looking at. In another nod to stock car racing, there are window nets all around. Funnily enough, the spare wheel matches the spec of the ones on the car, although this makes little sense with pit stops being a part of circuit racing. But hey, let’s not argue with the combined creative genius behind ’Project Gelandewagen’!

Did You Know You Needed A DTM-Inspired Mercedes-Benz G-Class? Neither DId We, Until Now
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Pulling the strap opens the door revealing a hospital white interior brought slightly to life by the presence of the blue roll-cage (the same tint of blue as the exhaust tips) and the red belt buckles and some knobs and buttons on the dash and console. The dials are analog (timelessness, once again), and the drilled pedals are connected to the floor in pure racing car style. The plush seats of the G have been swapped for two tight-hugging bucket seats, but the handle on the passenger’s side of the dash is still present - probably to be used as a Hail Mary handle.

"For me, it's all about providing opportunities for those coming after me and giving this next generation a foundation for success,"

explained Abloh, who’s also behind street fashion brand Off-White, maybe the reason behind the white livery. Wagener meanwhile, added:

"With Project Geländewagen, we create a unique artwork that showcases future interpretations of luxury and the desire for beauty and the extraordinary."

We’re not entirely sure of the levels of luxury that a racing car can provide, but we’re sure it can provide adequate levels of performance. After all, the road-bound 2020 G 63 AMG’s 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 is good for a whopping 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds thanks to the AMG Speedshift TCT 9G-Tronic transmission that’s presumably also present here.

Did You Know You Needed A DTM-Inspired Mercedes-Benz G-Class? Neither DId We, Until Now
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Mercedes-AMG G63 specifications
Engine Handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 Biturbo
Displacement 3,982 cc
Output 577 hp at 6,000 rpm
Peak torque 627 lb-ft. at 2,500-3,500 rpm
Drive system AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive with rear-biased torque distribution of 40:60
Transmission AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G
Weight TBA
Acceleration 0-60 mph 4.5 s
Top speed 136 mph

We know that ’Project Gelandewagen’ is a love-it-or-hate-it car but, if you do like it, you’ve still got 18 days to decide if you’re gonna bid for the 1/3 model. If you do, however, remember that Sotheby’s reckons it can bring upwards of $80,000 or about as much as a used G-Class AMG. A real one that you can actually drive...

Source: Autoblog.com

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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