As automotive writers, we come across weird and outlandish vehicle concepts almost every other day. But just when we thought nothing will surprise us anymore, Mercedes-Benz went ahead and pulled a G-Wagen race truck out of the bag, designed by two of the most influential luxury designers of our age.
Dubbed Project Gelandewagen, the G-Wagen race truck is actually conceived as an art project, made in collaboration between Mercedes-Benz Chief Creative Director Gorden Wagener and fashion designer Virgil Abloh, whom some of you may know is the founder of Off-White and Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton.
But… Just why? The duo says that the G-Wagen race truck was made to “explore ways of disrupting future perceptions of luxury”, “question the status quo”, and “showcase future interpretations of luxury and the desire for beauty and the extraordinary”. We aren’t sure how a stripped out interior and a spotty paint job is supposed to convey luxury, but again as we’ve made clear yesterday, design is not our strong suit by any means.
Anyway, to that end, the duo stripped the exterior of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class down to just its clean silhouette without any side mirrors, indicators, bumper bars, or even door handles. It’s then lowered and widened with over-the-top flared wheel arches and body kit, and equipped with ‘exaggerated’ wheels and tyres, which the team says “exudes the G’s inimitable charisma”.
A coat of white paint is selected to emphasise the monolithic character of the car, but partially sanded by hand to “create a sense of timeless simplicity”… Whatever that means. Mercedes-Benz says that the final design celebrates the handcrafted imperfections that make it unique.
Inside, the interior has also been stripped of any tech or regular luxury features, with the roll cage – painted baby blue – taking centrestage. The dashboard and instrument cluster has been replaced by analog dials and toggle switches inspired by old-school race cars, while a proper race car steering wheel and elaborate bucket seats complete the look inside.
To prove that it’s a proper race car, the Gelandewagen is also fitted with a proper racing harness, fire extinguisher, as well as a jerry can for fuel strapped down in the cargo area.
Mercedes-Benz did not reveal the powertrain of the Gelandewagen (probably because it’s not a real race car), though given that it’s meant to be a race car, and it also comes with side pipes finished in baby blue, we imagine that underneath the hood lurks the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 from the AMG G 63.
The race car G-Wagen will not be made into an actual car you can buy, though one very lucky and very rich person will be able to win the bid for a replica piece as part of Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction, with all proceeds going to a charity that supports international creative communities.