Project Geländewagen: Blending art and automobile

One-off G-Class will be sold at Sotheby’s auction

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Project G
Project Gelaendewagen designed to blend auto and art and luxury | Mercedes-Benz photos

As if the Mercedes-Benz G-wagon didn’t stand out enough in the world of sport utility vehicles, Project Geländewagen has taken the vehicle into another realm.

The first in what likely will be a series of collaborations between the automaker and Virgil Abloh, founder of the Off-White brand and men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton, the vehicle was created “to explore ways of disrupting future perceptions of luxury,” according to the automaker as it unveiled the one-off G-Class vehicle.

An AMG G-Class in non-modified factory condition

Mercedes also said the vehicle will be auctioned at Sotheby’s upcoming Contemporary Curated sale, with proceeds from the project going to a charity that supports international creative communities.

“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,” Abloh is quoted. 

“For me it’s all about providing opportunities for those coming after me and giving this next generation a foundation for success, both here with Mercedes-Benz and through my own Virgil Abloh ‘Post-Modern’ Scholarship Fund.“

 “With Project Geländewagen we create a unique artwork that showcases future interpretations of luxury and the desire for beauty and the extraordinary,” added Wagener. “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.”

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“Culture and the arts have always played an important part in both Mercedes-Benz products and the brand, and we are proud to donate all proceeds of the replica auction to support international creative communities to continue their education in the arts,” said Bettina Fetzer, Mercedes-Benz AG vice president for marketing.

Racing-style interior

Project Geländewagen perfectly encapsulates Mercedes-Benz’s manifestation of contemporary luxury, pushing creativity and innovative design.”

According to the company’s announcement, Wagener and Abloh “considered how to make the viewer look at Mercedes-Benz designs with a fresh perspective, while driving luxury away from a polished and flawless aesthetic to something raw, natural and altogether more honest.

“The exterior is kept as clean as possible to emphasize the G-Class’s iconic silhouette, demonstrating its monolithic character. The final design lays its construction methods bare, and celebrates the handcrafted imperfections that make it unique. The paintwork was partially sanded by hand to create a sense of timeless simplicity. Welds are celebrated as key design motifs, as craftsmanship takes center stage. 

“The indicators, outside mirrors and the bumper bar have all been removed and the body of the car is widened and lowered, for a sportier effect. The distinct personality of the G remains intact, however, and an exaggeration of the tires and spare wheel exude the G’s inimitable charisma.

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Racing seats and safety netting included

“Inside the art piece, reduction reigns and the racing inspiration is clear; eschewing all clichés of an SUV. All interiors have been stripped back, and the safety frame becomes a central motif. 

“The dashboard is removed and replaced with a clean, reduced version which celebrates an analogue speedometer and fuel gauges, reminiscent of a classic car. This contrasts with the steering wheel and seats, which are more akin to a Formula 1 vehicle. Safety features and key racing elements, such as the safety frame or the 5-point seat belts are highlighted in baby blue and bright red tones.”

The company adds, “Through Project Geländewagen, the worlds of fashion, art and automotive are united by one common passion: outstanding luxury design that anticipates future ambitions.”

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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