Project Geländewagen: Virgil Abloh remixes the G-Class

Published: 09 September 2020

► A one-off project
► Takes on elements of motorsport and fashion
► Genius or criminal?

The G-Wagen has successfully completed its transformation from military vehicle to full on fashion accessory. You’re looking at Project Geländewagen, a joint-effort between Mercedes-Benz and designer Virgil Abloh. It’s strictly a one of one project and will be auctioned off for charity.

Our G-Class long-term test

Currently the men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton, Abloh is a leading force in contemporary design: he’s the founder of the high-end streetwear brand Off-White, an occasional collaborator with Nike – and has also produced album art for the likes of Kanye West.

 ‘My ultimate goal in this project with Mercedes-Benz is inspiring young artists, engineers, designers to question the status quo, in addition to experimenting with my own design abilities,’ said Abloh. 

Gorden Wagener, Mercedes’ chief design officer added: ‘With Project Geländewagen we create a unique artwork that showcases future interpretations of luxury and the desire for beauty and the extraordinary. The result is something between reality and future.

‘The collaboration with Virgil has seen two distinct design philosophies unite, for a one-of-a-kind re-imagination of the G that continues to celebrate the extraordinary at its core,’ he continued. 

What’s he done to the G-Class?

Abloh’s interpretation of the G-Class tips the scales firmly towards its AMG lineage, and is decidedly sport-focused. Mercedes’ 4×4 is still as aerodynamic as a brick, but it’s been widened, lowered and sanded with welds very much on show, to give the impression of speed-related modifications. 

Stock car racing is clearly a big influence for Project Geländewagen; as the interior of the car features a fire-extinguisher, five-point harnesses and window nets, and the tyres appear to be borrowed from a racing car.

This G-Wagen also borrows from the brand’s highly-successful F1 program; the steering wheel is a pleasing mish-mash of a single-seater car with the same multimedia-focused buttons you’d find on a C-class and E-class. The cockpit dials, on the other hand, are completely analogue – not very F1.

Mercedes hasn’t revealed what powers this G-Wagen, though the side-pipes – and its new motorsport-inspired makeover – suggests it’ll be Affalterbach’s V8. 

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast