Remember when you used to order your entire vehicle from the Christmas catalog? Yeah, me either. But this is exactly what six very wealthy people did in 1999. In one of the strangest marketing moves I’ve seen, our friends at Europa International, the G-Wagen importer before Mercedes officially starting bringing in the G500 in 2002, partnered with luxury department store Neiman Marcus to sell a special edition G500 through their Christmas catalog. It was a three page spread (attached below) with a few photos and a paragraph of information all to hit you with the price tag: $160,000. For those keeping score at home, that is nearly $240,000 in today’s money. What did you get for all that dough? A G500 with a special two-tone interior and Swedish Birch wood trim. Like I mentioned, they only managed to sell six of these. I am not sure if you ordered this and the G factory would build them or they only built six to sell. My guess is the former.
Today, one of these Neiman Marcus Gs is up for sale in the Atlanta area. This is one of two that I’ve ever even see photos of and luckily for the next owner of this G500, it has been cared for and loved over the past 17 years. Question is, are you willing to pay a pretty big premium for it?
Whenever I see a Europa Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen pop up for sale, I always take time to really check it out. Personally, if you gave me the choice to buy and live with any G-Wagen out there, from military-spec W460s all the way up to W463 G65 AMGs, I’d probably pick a Europa truck. I think they are the perfect compromise between the spartan offerings and the outrageous luxury you can get from a G-Wagen. You get a G that still can be daily driven in total comfort with modern safety but without the crazy options that ultimately you fear of breaking and then driving you nuts. This 1998 G320 up for sale in New Jersey just might be the perfect G-Wagen but fair warning, something this good won’t come cheap.
Another week, another G-Wagen. Last week it was the crazy G55 AMG limousine and the week before that it was the short wheelbase G500 for sale in the UK. Today, we have another short wheelbase G but as you might have noticed, this one has a little extra feature. This is a 1999 G500 Cabriolet that was federalized by Europa (read more here about them) for sale in New Jersey with a little over 65,000 miles. It’s a no-frills G outside of that slick power top that will make any Wrangler or Defender owner as jealous as can be. But the price, are you sitting down?
So lets start off with a quick Thursday evening history lesson. Way back in the grand time known as the year 2002, Mercedes-Benz finally decided to officially grace North America with its wonderful Geländewagen, or ”G-Wagen” for short. Or, ”G-Wag” if the next words in the sentence are ”sittin’ on 22-inch rimz.” So with the G-Wagen starting production 1979 and Mercedes never officially offering them for sale at dealers until the model year 2002, someone had to feed the need of wealthy North Americans who saw these on their vacations in Swiss Alps and wanted to get something else besides a P38 Range Rover that had a permanent EAS Fault message on the dash. That ”someone” were the guys at Europa G-Wagen located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their business was pretty straight forward, they would bring over G-Wagens from Europe, do all the very expensive dirty work of federalizing these SUVs so they weren’t subject to the 25-year import rule, then distribute them all over the country. Their business did so well that they became the exclusive U.S. importer of the G-Wagen and eventually gained U.S. Small Volume Manufacturer status. This all went really well until 2002 until Mercedes gave them the ”we’ll take it from here” and bought the U.S. distribution rights from Europa. This left the company to focus more on service, parts and accessions. Today, Europa still dabbles in importing G-Wagens, but mostly in the models we never got here such as the three door Cabrio.
So, every once in a blue moon one of these W463 Europa SUVs pop up for sale. Today, we have a 2000 G500 in Colorado that deserves a closer look.