Mercedes-Benz G-Class celebrated by encasing one in giant block of amber

An early frontrunner for craziest Detroit Auto Show display.

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Mercedes-Benz is putting a lot of effort into the reveal of its new 2019 G-Class SUV next week at the Detroit Auto Show. How much emphasis? Well, the Stuttgart company will greet visitors by showcasing the first production G-Class from 1979 encased in a massive block of amber-colored synthetic resin at the entrance to Cobo Hall.

The installation, teased in a 53-second video released last month, weighs nearly 49 tons. It shows a 280 GE suspended in amber and positioned as if it were traversing downhill or over a rocky mound, befitting the vehicle's rugged DNA. The company says it "symbolizes the timelessness of the off-road legend and makes a conscious reference to the natural phenomenon of insects preserved in amber." It's also meant to make a statement about the preservation of the genetic material of the G-Wagen, the marque's longest-running model series, being handed down from one generation to another. Looked at in another way, it takes the boxy off-roader from the realm of actual utility vehicle to something like a life-size Hot Wheels display for grown-up kids.

Mercedes-Benz says it took 90 days to make the installation, which grew about 3 centimeters (a little more than an inch) in height each day and measures roughly 18 feet long, 8 feet wide and 10 feet high. It'll travel to other auto shows as the new G-Class debuts in other markets.

Auto shows are always about spectacle and conceptual art as much as they are about the actual sheetmetal on display, and this one figures to enter into North American International Auto Show lore. It recalls stunts such as Jeep crashing a Grand Cherokee through the glass doors of Cobo, Ram driving a herd of cattle through the streets of downtown Detroit in January or, many years prior, Volvo's use of walls encased in ice to define its show-floor space.

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