DaimlerChrysler offers a series of sport utility vehicles to the public under the Mercedes-Benz brand as G-Class. Commonly referred to as the G-Wagen, short for GelÃ¤ndewagen (or Cross-Country Vehicle), Mercedes secured military contracts for the vehicle in the late 1970s and offered a civilian version to the public in 1979. Never an entirely Mercedes product, the G-Wagen was a joint Steyr-Daimler-Puch development and are assembled by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. Mercedes' part was to provide the drivetrain as well as interior design on civilian vehicles, and Steyr retained distribution rights in certain regions under the Puch name. Among the engines offered in the G-Class for the 2004 model year is a 5.5-litre V8. Major models include the G500, and G55 AMG. Marking its 25th anniversary, the 2005 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG was relaunched as the G55 Kompressor or G55K and received a boost in power, thanks to a 5.5-liter, supercharged V8 developing 469 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque.
The chassis was revised for 1990 as the W463 with anti-lock brakes and a full trio of electronically-locking differentials. The V8-powered 500GE was new for 1993, catering to more of a luxury than off-road crowd with only center and rear differential locks and a luxurious cabin of leather and wood. This luxury-Wagen lasted just two years, however. All G-Wagens began using Mercedes-Benz's new letter-first naming scheme in 1994.
The range was refreshed again in 1997, including the introduction of a power-topped convertible and two new engines, the turbo 2.9 L Diesel and the V6-powered (M112 motor) G320 - previous years' G320s were outfitted with the M104 I6. The luxury G-wagen returned for 1998 as the G500, with official sales beginning in the United States in 2002 at $75,000. The 349 hp (260 kW) G55 AMG cemented the vehicle in the American market, however, with many snapped up by celebrities. A 476 hp (355 kW) G55, introduced in 2004, could hit 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds.