Custom shop: Collector's items with the highest level of exclusivity

May 5, 2018

In 1972 the foundations were laid for the production of the almost 40-year success story that is the G-Class with a cooperation agreement between the then Daimler-Benz AG (today Daimler AG) and Steyr-Daimler-Puch (today Magna Steyr) in Graz, Austria. This cooperation between Daimler-Benz and the Austrian all-wheel drive specialist Steyr-Daimler-Puch, previously best known for its extremely off-road capable "Haflinger" and "Pinzgauer" models, brought together the comprehensive off-road know-how that marks the driving characteristics of the G-Class to this day. The specialists in Stuttgart are responsible for design and construction, and for the majority of the testing work. A second team in Graz mainly concerns itself with the bodyshell design, development of the new transfer case and practical off-road testing.

In 1977, "Geländefahrzeug GmbH" (GFG) was founded as an independent joint venture in which each partner held half the shares. This joint venture was responsible for production, and from 1992 the development work also came under the aegis of Graz. In 1981 GFG was dissolved, and a restructuring of the respective functions between Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch was carried out. Daimler-Benz was now exclusively responsible for further development work on the off-roader, with Steyr-Daimler-Puch focussing on production on a contracting basis. 

In 2013 the company was logically renamed Mercedes-Benz G GmbH as a wholly-owned Mercedes-Benz subsidiary. This company, sales & marketing and product management of the civilian and non-civilian G-Class models are the responsibility of the Off-Road product division of Mercedes-Benz Cars based in Stuttgart-Möhringen. Strategic planning and market development are also based in Baden-Württemberg's capital.

To this day, every single example of these legendary off-roaders in all body variants and engine variants right up to the AMG models has been assembled by Magna Steyr on just one production line. Around 2000 employees skilled in hand finishing techniques ensure that this precision tool takes its place on the roads and rough terrain. This takes the requisite amount of time. Because only the greatest commitment and use of particularly fine materials can create an automobile that withstands both the inner-city jungle and the toughest terrain. Whether the exterior or interior, topstitching or model plate: almost every detail is lovingly produced with passion and to craftsman-like perfection. Experienced master saddlers keep their eye on every detail during production of the seats, for example. High-grade types of leather are finished with an outstanding level of skill. Even the slightest flaw in the leather will not escape the professional eyes of the saddlers. The result is collector's items with the highest level of exclusivity by the hands of masters.

"The team which has contributed substantially to this success includes employees who have been part of the story of the G-Class for some 38 years or more. We are connected to Magna Steyr by decades of successful cooperation in the production of the G-Class," says Dr. Gunnar Güthenke, Head of the Off-Road Product Unit at Mercedes-Benz.

This cooperation started in 1972 has evolved into a probably unique mix which combines all the advantages of a large automobile manufacturer with those of small, autonomous organisation and a custom shop. An example: for the first time the engineers at Mercedes-Benz are developing a fully digitised vehicle in the Graz location together with partners Magna Steyr and AMG. It is only after many simulation cycles and positive results that test vehicles are built to accomplish the leap from the digital to the real world. In this way test drives and simulations are used to constantly improve the maturity of the G-Class so that it is fit for customers.