Which G for me?

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NZ_G
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Joined: 17.02.2017
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Hello all! I am looking to buy a used G Wagen but I am bit torn between two different paths. To layout what I want it for, it will be a bit of a toy vehicle, not my daily driver or ever second car but I want something that is reliable, tough, good for off-road, and importantly will last forever. Due to living in New Zealand I have a relatively limited choice of predominantly used Japanese imports which has lead me down these two possible paths.

Option 1. An early 90s G300. These are relatively easily available here and should meet the reliable and simple criteria and definitely the cheapest option. However my main concern is that they are simply a bit gutless in such a heavy vehicle. Doing my research I had thought that upgrading to an OM606 might be possible and it seems on here that is the case. So I could potentially buy a G300 with an eye to upgrading in the future. An amended version of this idea which I have thought about after signing up here is simply buying an already converted vehicle from the UK and importing myself. This would bump up the price a fair bit but one of the things I like about that option is the ability to go with a manual (extra reliability).

Option 2. Do some complex man-maths equations and talk myself up to a G55. This will definitely solve any issues with lacking in power and also give a very nice V8 sound track while I am at it. I think this option might provide a bit more fun factor. However my big concern here is the greatly increased complexity of this model and whether or not it will start up happily every time I go to take it out after a bit of time (sitting on a battery charger of course) or cause me no end of woes.

So I guess my core question is will a G55 be as reliable as an earlier G (or close to it, I'm aware all individual vehicles are different)? Does a G300 have enough grunt? Or is a OM606 conversion the perfect middle ground?

Arnie
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Re: Which G for me?

I have a 2001 G400 and as far as electronics, it will be pretty similar to the G55 or G500 from 2001 - 2006. In general there are no battery-drain issues. I can leave it for weeks and it will start first time. BUT you will need a OBD diagnostic unit, should you ever have any issues. The interior is also not as well built or screwed together as the earlier versions. The factory suspension is hard (dampers) and it will not be fun off-road.

I also have a G300E and that in many ways is my favourite. Very reliable engine, easy to work on and if you run the engine as it was designed, at high revs, it can make good pace, but will start to get noisy at 80 mph. and near 4000 rpm. The interior is simpler and cleaner and comes with 1980 -1990's Mercedes quality. Also the paintwork is much better as these are pre-water-based paints.  Mine still has great original paint after 21 years.

i think you have summarised some of the other points well, and from what you've written, I would go with the G55 or even G500. The M113 is also a great engine - very reliable, with no serious issues - and maybe the perfect vehicle would be a G500 from 1999, before they went will full electronics and before the electric transfer-case shifter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

prwales
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Re: Which G for me?

Get an early diesel 463, G-Wagens aren't built to go fast, they don't corner well, plus it has many useful bits required for a future 606 conversion too. If you want the AMG 55 engine there are lots of better bodies to fit it intodevil. There was an earlier g500 463 too but they're rare

 

http://gwoa.co.uk/forum/ge500

Arnie
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Re: Which G for me?

Yes, I very-much like the W463, G300D. Very reliable, no real issues with that engine. However, finding a diesel import from Japan will be difficult, If off-roading is a priority, then the G55 will not be ideal with its hard suspension. As PRWales, mentioned, and as I have hinted, above, the pre-2000, G500 would be a good one to find.

 

 

prwales
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Re: Which G for me?

The one in the link though had an engine that featured in the w126 and I believe was a m117 V8  at that point a 20 year old design. The similarly aged ge320 had a m104 engine that was close to matching it for power rendered it pointless as its fuel economy was enormously better which was lucky to reach double figures.

Theo
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Re: Which G for me?

a G500 is the perfect middle ground: V8 sound, more than enough power and no compromises off-road.

reddevil
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Re: Which G for me?

I've recently bought a 300GE SWB and I don't find it gutless, within the constraints of the vehicle obviously :-) and my other cars are what you might describe as quite rapid!

I had a similar thought process in terms of a potential future upgrade to an OM606 - but the engine is so smooth, and the vehicle so original, I think I will just put up with 19mpg (vs. a heady 25mpg for an OM606) and save the ~£10k conversion costs.

Seems to me a nice late 90's G500 is a sought after vehicle, with values just under double that of a 300GE. It's not wildly more powerful (250ish bhp?). A mildly tuned OM606 would probably show it a clean pair of heels for a similar initial outlay price (including the conversion) but you have a car which is probably not worth as much for resale. A G55 is more again - very strong man maths required.

I think the biggest problem with my 300 is really the gearbox, it really dates the car. Effectively it only has 3 speeds as it sets off in 2nd gear, 1st is really a crawler which needs to be manually selected. I've fitted bigger wheels which improves the cruising ability a bit but really a more modern 5sp locking transmission would make such a difference.

I have no idea if it's possible to fit such a thing to the 300 motor, I suspect not because electronics. I believe the V6 320 had a more modern 5sp auto with all the electronics, but they seem hard to find in RHD.

prwales
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Re: Which G for me?

but you have over 6,000 revs to play with whereas with a diesel theres no point over 4k

NZ_G
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Joined: 17.02.2017
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Which G for me?

That is a good point about the gearbox, thanks for mentioning it. I am not a fan of old auto gearboxes especially ones with minimal gears. Lots of good info coming in.

Graham Shaw
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Re: Which G for me?

Hi to another G Man in NZ, bought my G300 May 2016 for off roading only. Came out of Japan 1991 model, from an AK dealer.160K and never been off the streets of Tokyo I would think.Have had a few problems due to the change of use but seem to be getting on top of things now. Did all the suspension, gearbox, cooling system and steering box.Comments about the power and gearbox are correct in that you have 3 working gears, I have got used to now dropping it into low manually and once you get used to the high revs it does pick up it skirts. Holds its own offroad looking to give it a 40mm lift and put it on some 33 tyres and with those diff locks it will go anywhere.

Simon666
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Re: Which G for me?
Just by way of FYI the 2000 era G500 makes 296BHP and is viewed to benefit from a 'map' that takes it to 316BHP and adds 30NM of torque, but mainly improves the drive and power delivery (and actually slightly improves MPG - but given you are lucky to see 14MPG you really should not be buying a G500 for economy :-)). There are loads of views on G reliability and whilst there seem to be a lot of views surrounding engine/box combos, these seem to relate to the later models or poorly serviced earlier ones. The issues that most avoid - besides rust of the 460's is the advent of CANBUS electrics when the model changed in the early 2000's hence why I got a 2000 version. They command STRONG money in the UK though thanks to the current vogue for Premier footballers driving the new AMG G63 versions :-. Not a problem in NZ I trust. My only comment by observation on the 606 change is that it creates an impressive drive... if it is done right (Which in the UK there are only a couple of people capable of doing), not 'turned up' too high, and mated to the right box. There seems to be a view to delete electronics and mate to a 6 speed manual box - but there are far wiser heads on here than me Simon