Today a press release from Mercedes lists the latest upgrades to the new generation G-Class. To add to it’s luxury, the G-Class is receiving drivetrain enhancements and what Mercedes refer to as ‘subtle visual changes’ such as a slightly different grill and daytime LED running lights. To accompany the standard G-Class priced at £82,945, a new 544 hp G 63 AMG version will also be released retailing at £123,115.
The new AMG version will be getting a unique AMG radiator grill, AMG wheel-arch extensions, an AMG sports exhaust, chromed exhaust, and 20 inch grey alloys. In-car enhancements include up-rated leather trim, illuminated door sill panels, and a Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system with DAB radio. While not impossible, it’s hard to imagine that many of the modern G-Class cars will find their way off-road and most will probably get used for school runs and urban driving.
It is all a very long way from what 74 year old Gunther Holtorf has tasked his original G-Wagen with. He is a man that took the 4WD off-road capability of his Merc very seriously. In 1989 he and his wife Christine set off for an 18 month trip across Africa but as they enjoyed the experience so much they simply never stopped travelling.
They didn’t surround themselves with publicity and have never tried to seek any fame. There is no sponsorship, nor is any sought, and as shocking as it seems in this modern world, there are no regular reports of what they are up to on Facebook or Twitter. Gunther doesn’t even have a phone. He is simply in love the experience of travelling on his own endless road trip and has managed to adapt it to his permanent lifestyle.
The Mercedes G-Wagen that he drives has long since been nicknamed ‘Otto’ and after 23 years of travelling it now has over 500,000 miles on the clock. The equivalent of travelling around the world twenty times. The destinations they’ve been to include such places as North Korea, Paris, Cuba, Iraq, Canada, the Caribbean and Mount Everest.
Sadly, Gunther’s wife Christine now only travels with him in spirit and her presence in the car is now in the shape of a photo which hangs from the interior mirror. Before she died she asked that Gunther not give up travelling with ‘Otto’ the G-Wagen and that she would keep an eye on him from above. Gunther hasn’t given up and plans to continue on this epic and endless journey. As Gunther himself says: “The more you travel, the more you realise how little you have seen.”
‘Otto’ has been kitted out with cooking and sleeping facilities and must surely be the most well used and purposeful G-Wagen on the planet. Gunther says that the G-Wagen has never suffered from a serious breakdown and that the engine starts every time. The worst problems he’s had have been things like flat tyres and other minor problems that he could easily fix. Considering what it has been through, and how far it has travelled, it is a pretty incredible accolade for the car.
Gunther has photographed much of his journey with the 2 Leica film cameras he carries with him. Fortunately he’s got quite an eye for photography and a narrated slide show of his trip has just been released online thus bringing this wonderful story to our attention. It is both humbling and fascinating viewing. At Motor-Vision we wish Gunther the very best of luck for the future.
Gunther certainly loves his Merc as he states: “Otto is the main partner of the entire excursion.”
It all makes me wonder whether he would approve of the latest Mercedes G 63 AMG version of his beloved G-Class?