The original 460-series Geländewagen went on sale for civilian buyers in 1979, after having debuted in February of that year. It was offered with two wheelbases, a short wheelbase (SWB) of 2,400 mm and a long one (LWB) of 2,850 mm. One could choose between three body styles: A two-door short wheelbase convertible, a two-door SWB wagon and a long wheelbase four-door wagon. The two wagon versions were also available as windowless two-door Vans (or Kastenwagen in German). While always assembled in Graz, the car was sold as the Puch G only in the Austrian, Swiss, and Eastern European markets.
During the G-wagen’s life span many a different body style was made for army and public-service clients, like the Popemobile, the pickup or the chassis/cab with a wheelbase of 2,850, 3,120 or 3,400 mm, the chassis/cab being the base vehicle for army-ambulances or communication vehicles. Because of the sheer variety of military versions, this article focuses on the more standardized civilian G-Wagen.
The 460 was popular with military and off-road enthusiasts, with more than 50,000 built in the first decade. Mercedes-Benz initially did not sell the model in the United States, but by means of “casual importation” grey-market in the mid-1980s, importers sold a number of G-Wagens which had been modified to meet the specifications by the US DOT, at about $135,000.