Puch G sounds like a Soundcloud rapper or a kid still trying to come up on the rap battle circuit. The truth is stranger, and mystifyingly arcane. In 1971, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, shah of Iran and major Mercedes stockholder, suggested Mercedes build a truck that could be sold to the military and civilians. After feasibility studies, civilian-focused Daimler-Benz hooked up with Austrian military vehicle and weapons maker Steyr-Daimler-Puch to develop a commercial vehicle. Once the Geländefahrzeug-Gesellschaft mbH joint venture prepared a number of Geländewagen prototypes in the mid-1970s, the Shah placed an order for 20,000 trucks, compelling the joint venture to see the project through. In 1979, the brute box with the amazing bolt-action door closure sound became a martial and market reality, the same year the shah was deposed and the new Islamic Republic of Iran canceled the order for 20,000 trucks.
Aside from all that, in Europe, Daimler and Puch — which has morphed into today's Magna-Steyr — decided to sell the same civilian vehicle under two brand names: Mercedes G-Wagen in almost all of Western Europe and most of the world, Puch G in Austria, Switzerland, Eastern Europe, and Mongolia. The territory breakdown sounds like Puch lost a game of Risk, but... reasons.
The civilian truck quickly went upmarket, and come 1993 got its first V8 version packing the Mercedes M117 5.0-liter eight-cylinder adapted from the S-Class, producing 237 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The plan had been to offer 500 units in five-door, long-wheelbase trim only, but Puch would assemble 446 of the V8-powered G-Wagens in 1993 and 1994 before the V8 got pulled from the lineup. Out of the production run, 443 were built as the Mercedes-Benz 500 GE, just three being branded as the Puch 500 GE. In two months, the very first 1993 Puch 500 GE will go to the highest bidder at RM Sotheby's Essen, Germany, auction running June 24-27, which was the point of this whole backstory.
The unit for sale comes with extensive paperwork documenting its service as Puch's homologation and testing chassis, and its submission to press drives and photo shoots. As the ultimate representative of the brand, the 500 GE was loaded with standard equipment like the special Amethyst Blue paint. Two-tone interiors were part of the package, this one in black and gray leather. The powered and heated seats, walnut trim, cruise control, electric sunroof, stainless steel running boards, and bull bars were all included in the purchase price. Some models of the 463-series G-Class were built with three locking differentials, but the 500 GE models stuck with two locking diffs. Partially restored and with 162,992 kilometers on the odometer, the engine and four-speed automatic transmission were recently serviced.
RM Sotheby's doesn't publicize pre-sale estimates, nor the matter of a reserve, so it's impossible to tell what the Puch might fetch. With just three Puch 500 GEs on the planet, good luck finding a reference, and used Mercedes G-Class values are all over the map, so this could end up an also-ran or a unicorn, but the bidding should be fun to watch.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go create my new Soundcloud account ...