The story goes that the Shah of Iran convinced Mercedes to compete with the Land Rovers and Cruisers dominating military and government off-road duty back in the 70s. So, an agreement was formed between Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch to build a Geländewagen or “off-road vehicle”. Testing took place in the Sahara and Arctic Circle, triple-locking differentials were fitted and body-on-frame construction ensured the new G-Wagen would be known far and wide for its off-road prowess.
Fast forward to 1990 and Mercedes decided it was time to sell a civilian model with luxury on par with it’s S-Class. Body-colored fenders and running boards dressed up the outside while the interior gained wood and leather trim, plusher seats and an improved instrument panel. US customers were not expected to have any use for such a vehicle so the G-Class wasn’t officially sold here. However, Europa International, a small North American automotive importer took it upon themselves to handle the pricey federalization process and began marketing the trucks to their well-heeled clientele.
It was such a hit that Mercedes finally decided to add the G-Class to their official US model range in 2002. In those 30 odd years since it was introduced in military running gear, the G never really changed. Body styles, engines and all manner of forced induction were added but the basic box-on-a-ladder with loads of off-road gear has always remained. Including on the G500 Cabriolet you see here. This short-wheelbase convertible with a power-operated soft top is exceptionally rare on North American shores. “Regular” G-Wagens are unusual in their own right but there are very few of these G-Cabs on the road.