12. Mercedes-Benz Created Legendary G-Wagon By The Suggestion Of The Shah of Iran.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi overthrew his father in 1941 with the help of the British and Soviets and became the ruler of Iran. He was very well educated and believed in industrial investments in foreign countries. Besides investing in Mercedes-Benz, he bought a 25 percent share of Babcock & Wilcox and Krupp companies in West Germany.
Iran’s military incapacity during the Anglo-Soviet occupation deeply affected Reza Pahlavi. The Shah of Iran always dreamed of an invincible army. Therefore he was obsessed with military spending. He wrote a letter to Mercedes-Benz and requested 20000 off-road vehicles for military purposes.
In 1972 Mercedes agreed to produce the G-Class model and signed a cooperation agreement with Austrian arms and off-road vehicle specialist Steyr-Puch to develop a light off-road vehicle with four-wheel drive.
Daimler’s commercial vehicle department planned to start production in 1979 in Graz, Austria. Depending on the location, the car would sell as A Puch or a Mercedes.
Born out of military demands, the box-shaped SUV got its name from the German word Geländewagen, which means cross-country vehicle. Mercedes launched G-Class in four variants: two-door with and without windows, convertible and station wagon. Its base price was 32,600 Deutsche Marks in 1979.
The vehicle became very popular quickly, and famous people started driving G-Wagon. Arnold Schwarzenegger purchased one of the first Punch Gs. Pope John Paul II had one with a bulletproof screen as a Popemobile.
Even Erich Honecker, the communist politician who ruled East Germany, preferred G-Wagon over Soviet-made Lada Niva.
Lastly, on 11 February 1979, shortly before the production of the G-Model, the Iranian Revolution took place. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and established an Islamic republic. Therefore 20000 unit order never came to delivery. Argentina, Norway, and Switzerland’s armies purchased the G-Wagons.