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Remember When Mercedes-Benz Wanted to Kill Off the G-Class in the US?

The waiting list and above-MSRP figures dealers are asking for the latest Mercedes-Benz G-Class makes it hard to imagine there was ever a time when the rugged luxo-ute’s future was in doubt. However, in 2005, just a few years after Mercedes took over official importation from the small company in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that brought the G-Wagen to the U.S., the automaker said it would pull the plug. Not only was the G-Class set to leave the U.S., it would cease production entirely. The send-off was to be as over-the-top as the G-Class itself.

The G55 AMG arrived in the U.S. that year with a new supercharged V8 rated at 469 horsepower that sliced two seconds off the automaker’s 0-to-60 mph estimate. This brick of an SUV originally designed for the Shah of Iran’s military could vault to highway speeds in just 5.2 seconds.

To say goodbye, Mercedes said that all G-Class SUVs built from June through the end of the year would be G-Class Grand Editions, with 500 earmarked for the U.S. Each had an individually numbered plaque inside plus a pair of round badges affixed to the fenders with a phrase in German that roughly translates to “A vehicle makes its way.” The colorful medallions advertised that the “Mercedes G” was built by hand in Graz, Austria, and even included a cartoonish 3-door G-Wagen (a model never officially offered in the U.S.) navigating bumpy terrain in front of Graz’s famous clocktower that sits on a hill overlooking the town. Mercedes even included what it called a “sign-off” sheet from the factory to commemorate its plan to wind down production.

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

The Grand Edition badge was affixed to both the G500 and the new G55 and was offered in 16 colors depending on the engine underhood. Other changes for what was to be the last model year included new wheel designs for the G500 and a newly standard brush guard with headlight grids. With the more powerful G55 AMG serving as its flagship, Mercedes stopped letting buyers order the G500 with special designo paint and leather colors.

After the last of the 500 was built, the factory workers returned to their houses, went to bed, and … woke up the next morning, went back to work, and continued building G-Wagens. The G-Wagen returned to the U.S. for 2006 just as though nothing had happened, albeit without a special badge on the side. Nothing to see here, folks. Find a Mercedes-Benz G-Class for sale

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Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz is an author specializing in helping in-market consumers get the most bang for their buck -- and the best car, while they're at it. When not virtually shopping for new and used cars, Andrew can probably be found under the hood of a vintage classic that's rapidly losing fluids.

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