Motoring News

Project Gelandewagen: Hands off the world’s best off-roader!

STUTTGART, Germany – Meet Project Geländewagen – the first outcome of a Mercedes-Benz and chief creative director and founder of Off-White and men’s artistic director with Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh.

It was, given the Chinese ‘flu epidemic, revealed through a digital launch.

The project – led by Mercedes-Benz chief designer Gorden Wagener, and Abloh, took a Mercedes-Benz G-Class – one of the world’s most handsome of off-road capable vehicles, and turned it into what The Corner thinks is one of the most ugly.

Image: Mercedes-Benz

The result is, however, certainly what the German automaker calls ”a distinctive manifestation of the G-Class”;  a replica will be auctioned at a Sotheby’s ‘Contemporary Curated’, described by Merc as one of the auction house’s ”most revered” shows; one said to have been defined each year by ”the unique perspective of an influential tastemaker”.


Abloh told The Corner, in a media release: “My goal was to inspire young artists and engineers to experiment with my design abilities. Project Geländewagen wanted to showcase future interpretations of luxury and the desire for beauty and the extraordinary.”

The result is ”something between reality and future”, says Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz’ chief design officer.

“The collaboration with Virgil has seen two distinct design philosophies unite for a one-of-a-kind re-imagining of the G-Wagen that continues to celebrate its extraordinary core.”

 Image: Mercedes-Benz

Bettina Fetzer, M-B’s marketing VP, added: “Project Geländewagen encapsulates Mercedes’ contemporary luxury by pushing creativity and design innovation.

”Culture and the arts have always played an important part in Mercedes’ products and brand so we’re proud to donate all proceeds of the replica auction to support international creative communities to continue their education in the arts.”

Image: Mercedes-Benz

The G-Class is said to have had many incarnations but not, until now, as a race car… which is what the vehicle in the images purports to be. The design process was inspired by Wagener and Abloh experiencing the G-Class first-hand and ”identifying opportunities to maximise its Mercedes-AMG attitude”. 

The exterior was kept as clean as possible to emphasise the G-Wagen’s iconic and ”monolithic” silhouette. The final design, The Corner was told, ”lays its construction methods bare and celebrates the handcrafted imperfections that make it unique”.

Image: Mercedes-Benz

The paintwork was partially hand-sanded to create a sense of timeless simplicity. Welds have become key design motifs, the turn indicators, external mirrors and front bumper have have been removed, the bodyshell s widened and lowered.

”The distinct personality of the G remains intact,” the Wagen’s designers say, ”and an exaggeration of the tyres and spare wheel exude the G’s inimitable charisma.”


The cabin has also been severely tampered with, especially, The Corner thinks, the steering-”wheel” which is no longer a wheel but instead an aeroplane flight control replica which, we’d guess, will make comfortable steering nigh on impossible – especially should this jokemobile ever see gravel.

READ MORE Mercedes features on Carmans Corner

All interior bits have been stripped and the rollover cage becomes another motif. The fascia has disappeared, to be replace by what Merc describes as ”a clean, reduced, version which celebrates an analogue speedometer and gauges, reminiscent of a classic car”.

Image: Mercedes-Benz

”This,” the automaker adds, ”contrasts with the steering-wheel and seats, which are closer to an F1 race car  than a luxury off-roader’s accommodation.”

Crash mitigation items include ”key racing elements”: rollcarge, five-point crash restraints dyed ”baby blue and bright red” to contrast with the stark cabin.

More PR stuff from Merc: ”Through Project Geländewagen the worlds of fashion, art, and automotion are united by a common passion: outstanding luxury design that anticipates future ambitions.”

Luxury, hardly!

”Using the craftsmanship and know-how unique to our heritage,” Merc says, ”and as the world’s first car manufacturer, Wagener and Abloh’s creation embodies Mercedes-Benz’ innate understanding of the extraordinary, a bold vision for the future of luxury design, and the power to dream.”


Tell us, from the pictures, what you think of the Gelandewagen’s makeover. Email us at,za

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