Mercedes-Benz has recently announced that from 2023, the Mercedes-Benz 500 GE V8, which was launched 30 years ago and is known as the ‘Luxury Off-Roader,’ can be classified as historic cultural assets. This means that well-maintained 500 GE V8s can be granted a coveted H registration plate if they pass the classic car appraisal. The 500 GE V8 was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1993 and was equipped with a proven eight-cylinder engine from the brand’s passenger car range. The engine was capable of producing 177 kW (240 hp) and 375 newton metres of torque from a displacement of 4973 cubic centimetres.
In 1993, the 500 GE V8 was priced at DM 178,250, which was expensive compared to other models. However, the 500 GE V8 was equipped with Bridgestone tyres of the new dimension 265/70 R 16 H on aluminum wheels, the only off-road tyres approved for speeds up to 210 km/h. The brake system was also configured for this level of driving performance, and the suspension was designed with the emphasis on comfort. The drivetrain, with its permanent four-wheel drive, remained unchanged except for the front differential lock, which was not offered in this model. The car was available exclusively as a Station Wagon with a long wheelbase (2850 millimetres).
The interior of the 500 GE V8 was redesigned with a black leather interior with contrasting elements, medium grey seat and backrest cushions, and door panels that were trimmed. Walnut veneer was used for the wood trim of the centre console, parts of the handbrake lever, the two transmission selector levers, and trim elements on the doors. A special amethyst blue metallic paint finish extended to the bumpers, wing flares, and mirror housings. Automatic transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, a sliding sunroof, leather steering wheel, and heated seats were always on board.
Mercedes-Benz produced only 446 units of the 500 GE V8, which was a limited edition because the M-117 engines available were scarce. The 500 GE V8 was expensive compared to other G-Class models, including the G 320 with a six-cylinder engine, which cost DM 88,500, while a 500 SE in the 140-series S-Class, with the M 119 engine, was available for DM 129,030. The G-Class is by far the longest-produced model series from Mercedes-Benz, launched in 1979, and the forefather of all SUVs sporting the three-pointed star. It is designed and constructed for tough everyday use, for example by foresters, farmers, in the military, or on unpaved tracks worldwide.
Around 80% of all the G-Class vehicles ever produced are still in existence, which is clear proof of the outstanding quality of this off-roader. The G-Class combines superior off-road capability with full on-road capability and safety. All-wheel drive and differential locks with 100 percent effect are as much a part of this vehicle as the rigid ladder-type frame.
In conclusion, the 500 GE V8 was a unique model in the G-Class, which has gained the status of a cultural asset due to its rarity and exclusivity. The 500 GE V8 was the harbinger of high-end off-roaders in the automotive luxury class, and well-maintained models can now receive the coveted H registration plate. Mercedes-Benz is proud of its history and heritage, and the 500 GE V8 is a testament to its commitment to producing high-quality, luxury vehicles that stand the test of time.