As you can see from this giddy, goofy selfie taken in the middle of my drive.
Yes, you should be jealous. I got to drive this today, a 1989 #Mercedes G Wagen, a 300 GD Cabriolet. No driving embargo on this bad boy: surprisingly easy to drive, not as agricultural as I was expecting. Short gear stick on 4-sp manual and no tach made things interesting, but gearbox surprisingly direct. Steering vague as expected. 88hp diesel as slow as expected. What a cool experience. #gclass #mercedesbenz #mercedesgwagon #mercedesg #classicmercedes @autoblog @mike_magrath
There were a handful of classic G-Wagens from which to choose, all from the 1980s, including one used as a Mercedes service truck and another that served duty with a fire service in Italy. There was also a four-door "Wagon" with a gas engine, an automatic and safari-spec white paint, but the most obvious, "I have to drive this" choice was the 1989 300GD two-door Cabriolet painted a very cool ice blue. If there was anything that would provide the ultimate juxtaposition between old and the all-newest of all-new 2019 G-Class, this was it.
So I jumped into its achingly awesome plaid driver seat, pressed "Record" on the GoPro, and away I went.
As you can see above, one of the takeaways was how easy it was to drive. After driving the Italian fire service G Wagen made a few years prior, it was evident that there were some mechanical improvements made during the 1980s, specifically in regards to that manual transmission. The fire G's shifter was pleasantly longer and easy to reach, but its throws were also much longer and it was harder to slot into gear. It was still far easier to row than a contemporary Porsche 911, but still. The older G also had a much larger steering wheel, that perhaps made it easier to steer at slower speed, but added to the comic driving experience at highway speeds.
Meanwhile, to say that the 2.3-liter gasoline engine and automatic transmission in the heavier four-door wagon made the G slower would be an understatement. Holy sauerkraut was it slow. Atrocious throttle response as well. Foot to floor, nada.
So, top consumer tip here: when buying an old G Wagen, get the manual.
And yes, the experience was as awesome as we could've hoped for, and of the assembled classic G's, I was correct in my assumption that the blue cabriolet would be the most charming. Part of me regrets not making off with keys and setting off for nearby Andorra and returning sometime in August when I've grown tired of driving around in something so awesome. Or the damn noise. That would probably happen first.