Newport Convertible Engineering was the first US coach builder that designed, engineered, and distributed limited editions of the Mercedes Benz G55 Convertible.
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Newport Convertible Engineering is an original design manufacturer(ODM) that designs and engineers authentic convertible tops on all brands of automobiles. NCE has recieved world wide recognition for their original convertible designs, especially on Mercedes Benz convertibles.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class or G-Wagen, short for Geländewagen (or cross-country vehicle), is a four-wheel drive vehicle / sport utility vehicle (SUV) produced by Steyr-Puch in Austria in order for German automaker Mercedes-Benz. The G-wagen is characterized by its boxy styling and body-on-frame construction. It utilizes three fully locking differentials, one of the few vehicles to have such a feature.
The G-class was developed as a military vehicle from a suggestion by the Shah of Iran(at the time a great shareholder) to Mercedes  and offered as a civilian version in 1979. The G-class replaced the cheaper Volkswagen Iltis in 1990. In this role it is sometimes referred to as the “Wolf” and LAPV Enok. The G-Class has been sold under the Puch name in certain markets, and the Peugeot P4 is a variant made under license, with a Peugeot engine and different parts.
Despite the introduction of an intended replacement, the unibody crossover SUV Mercedes-Benz GL-Class in 2006, the G-Class is still produced and is expected to continue in production. An interior face lift is possibly in the works for the G-Class, so there is no set date for when this car will cease production.
The G-Wagen was developed by Steyr-Daimler-Puch and first offered for sale in 1979 and redesigned in 1990/1991. A new version was expected for 2007, but the new GL-Class will not replace the G-Wagen, and it will continue to be hand-built in Graz, Austria at an annual production of 4,000 to 6,000 units. In February 2009, Magna Steyr, an operating unit of Magna International, announced that it signed an agreement with Daimler AG to extend the production of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class at Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria until 2015. Besides the production, the further development of the G-Class by Mercedes-Benz is also located in Graz since 1992. The G-Wagen is the longest produced Mercedes-Benz in Daimler’s history, with a span of 32 years.
1972 Development starts, focusing on off road abilities and maximum safety and comfort; with a cooperative agreement between Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, Austria. Mercedes-Benz engineers in Stuttgart are in charge of design and testing, while the team in Graz develops the production plans.
1973 The first wooden model is presented to Daimler-Benz management.
1974 The first driveable prototype vehicle begins various testing including German coalfields, the Sahara Desert, and the Arctic Circle.
1975 Construction commences on a new production facility in Graz, where the new cross-country vehicle will be assembled nearly entirely by hand.
1979 Production of the “G Model” begins in Graz.
1980 The Vatican takes delivery of a specially made G Model outfitted with a clear thermoplastic top. The “Papa G” or “Popemobile” later took up permanent residence at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
1981 The first major refinements include an automatic transmission, air conditioning, an auxiliary fuel tank, protective headlamp grilles and a cable winch.
1983 A specially modified 280 GE wins the Paris–Dakar Rally.
1985 Differential locks, central door locking and a tachometer become standard.
1986 The 50,000th G Model is produced at the Graz facility.
1987 Power windows, a power antenna and a combined partition net and luggage cover become production options.
1989 At the 10th anniversary of the G Model, a new model variant with permanent 4 wheel drive, a wood-trimmed interior and optional Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) debuts at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. Production begins the following April.
1992 A new sub-series for professional users — from landscapers and foresters to fire and rescue operations — begins production. The civilian model offers cruise control, a stainless-steel spare-tire cover, running boards and Burl Walnut wood interior trim. And the 100,000th G Model is built in Graz.
1994 The model line is officially renamed the G-Class. Ventilated front disc brakes and a driver’s air bag become standard.
1996 The automatic transmission is now an electronically controlled 5-speed unit. Headlamp washers, cruise control and a front passenger’s air bag are added.
1998 The range-topping G 500 with a 296 hp V 8 is introduced for series production.
1999 A limited run of V 8 powered “G 500 Classic” special editions marks the 20th anniversary. A multifunction steering wheel is added to all models. Later in the year, the new G 55 AMG debuts as the most powerful G-Class yet, with 354 hp.
2001 U.S. market launch of the G-Class. New alloy wheels, a chrome grille and body-color bumpers plus a more luxurious cabin are introduced. New dynamic control systems include the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Brake Assist and the 4 wheel Electronic Traction System (4 ETS).
2004 The G 55 AMG is upgraded with a supercharged V 8 engine developing 476 hp.
2006 In Siberia, a documentary filmmaker is the first foreigner to reach the world’s coldest region with a passenger vehicle in winter, driving a stock G 500 nearly 19,000 km without a single breakdown, in temperatures as frigid as –63˚F.
2007 The output of the G 55 AMG is raised to an even 500 hp. Bi Xenon headlamps, corner-illuminating front foglamps and new scratch-resistant nano-particle paint finishes are offered for the first time.
2008 More-refined instrumentation and controls are included in the G-Class cabin, along with the COMAND system with hard-drive-based navigation, a rear view camera, voice control, Bluetooth and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. The Vatican receives a new white “Popemobile” based on a G 500.
2009 Model-year 2010 and 30th anniversary of the vehicle, with over 200,000 units having been handcrafted in Graz since the start of production.
The “Popemobile“, a Mercedes-Benz 230 G built for Pope John Paul II in 1980.
|Production||1979–1991 (460), 1979–present (461)|
|Body style||2-door SWB convertible
2-door SWB SUV/Van
2-door LWB Van
4-door LWB SUV
|Layout||Front engine, rear-wheel drive /Four-wheel drive|
2.8L I6 Petrol
2.4L I4 diesel
2.5L I5 diesel
3.0L I5 diesel
|Wheelbase||94.5 in (2,400 mm) or 112.2 in (2,850 mm)|
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.
Utilitarian style of original two-door wagon
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.
The 461 is the military models, i.e. the non-public marked, custom built model, delivered from Austria from 1979. All special ordered and military models use the 461 designation, i.e. vehicles special built for firecorps, police, army, aid corps, etc. Also the later special built, but public available, Worker model got this designation. These have also been marketed as the Professional and Greenlineseries. Through the years the 461 models have had their engines, gearbox and driveline upgraded as with the 460 and 463 models. The 462 designation was used in models built on licence in other countries. The Peugeot P4 had its own designations.
The G280 CDI “Edition Pur” is a special version of the 461, available to civilian buyers. This version is essentially a civilian version of the professional use 461 (incorporating many of the improvements seen on the 463) and comes equipped with a 24V starter motor and a walk-on bonnet.
|Body style||2-door SWB convertible
2-door SWB SUV
4-door LWB SUV
|Layout||Front engine / Four-wheel drive|
5.4L supercharged V8
5.5L twin-turbo V8
6.0L twin-turbo V12
2.9L V6 Diesel
4.0L V8 Diesel
|Wheelbase||94.5 in (2,400 mm) or 112.2 in (2,850 mm)|
|Length||Pre-2003: 183.5 in (4,661 mm)
2004–09: 185.6 in (4,714 mm) (LWB)
2010-: 184.5 in (4,686 mm)
|Width||Pre-2003: 69.3 in (1,760 mm)
2004–09: 71.3 in (1,811 mm)
2004-09 AMG: 73.4 in (1,864 mm)
2010-: 71.8 in (1,824 mm)
2010- AMG: 73.1 in (1,857 mm)
|Height||2004–09: 77.8 in (1,976 mm)
Pre-2003: 72.3 in (1,836 mm)
2010-: 76.0 in (1,930 mm)
The chassis was revised for 1990 as the 463 with anti-lock brakes, full-time 4WD and a full trio of electronically locking differentials. The interior was totally upgraded, finished with wooden accents and optional leather upholstery.
The 463 client had a larger choice of engines, the preliminary apex being the V8-powered 500 GE in 1993. They catered more of a luxury than off-road crowd with front/center/rear differential locks and an even more luxurious cabin. The 500 GE was produced in limited numbers for just two years. All 463 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 2.9 L Turbo Diesel and the V6-powered (M112 motor) G320 — previous years’ G320s were outfitted with the M104 I6. The V8 G-wagen returned with a new engine in 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, becoming a vehicle of choice for many celebrities.
Mercedes-Benz considered that 2005 would be the last year they would export the Geländewagen to the USA market; however, with an order placed by the U.S. Marine Corps for 157 Mercedes-Benz units to replace their archaic Desert Patrol Vehicle with a more modern and militarized Interim Fast Attack Vehicle, the manufacturer continued to offer the vehicle in the US market. To celebrate the supposed end of US market Geländewagens, 300 examples of the “Grand Edition” model were made available. Also new for the 2005 model year was the first G55 AMG model, boasting a 469 hp (350 kW) V8 engine. So equipped, an original G55 AMG is able to achieve 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.4 seconds.
The new G550 has a 32-valve 382-horsepower 5.5-liter V8 engine, while the current G55 AMG has a 500-horsepower supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine. The G550 goes from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, while it takes the G55 AMG 5.2 seconds.
It was rumored that, with military contracts for the G-Class completed, production of the old G-wagen in Graz, Austria would cease in 2006. However, reports state that production of the current G-wagen will continue for the foreseable future, alongside its once-intended replacement, the GL-Class (X164). An outcry among enthusiasts who admired the G-Class for its tremendous off-road potential showed that a market still existed for such a vehicle. Although the average G-wagen rarely sees anything but asphalt, Mercedes-Benz elected to continue G-Class production for the hardcore off-road market, while the larger 3-row GL-Class would be marketed as a competitor for the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.
In July 2006, Mercedes-Benz announced a late-availability 2006 model year G-Class on its website.
The company showed a facelifted 2007 model at the Paris Auto Show in September 2006 and increased the power of the G55 AMG version from 476 to 500 hp (370 kW). Mercedes-Benz at the same time also announced that it will continue to manufacture the G-Class through 2015 on the continuing demand worldwide for the model by military and civilian buyers.
The 2009 G500 and G55 AMG are offered for sale at the 30-year anniversary of the G-Class. Both models with cosmetic upgrades most noticeable with the new grill, rims and telematics. The G-Class available with two different engines: a new-for 2009 382-hp (an increase of 90-hp) 5.5-liter V8 with a seven-speed automatic transmission in the G500, and a 500-hp (an increase of 7-hp) 5.5-liter supercharged V8 with five-speed automatic transmission in the AMG-tuned G55. Loaded with standard luxury features such as a leather interior, premium wood trim, rear parking assistance with camera, rapid HDD navigation system with aerial view, bi-xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, dual zone climate control, heated/cooled power driver and passenger seats with memory, to name a few. Standard safety equipment includes Mercedes’ Tele Aid system, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic stability control and side-curtain airbags. In addition to engine upgrades, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has been given a fresh look incorporating a new front grille design and grille guards. The new COMAND infotainment system includes a 40-gigabyte hard drive, in-dash 6-disc CD/DVD player, GPS navigation, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, harmon/kardon surround-sound system, in-dash memory card reader, high-definition digital radio, and satellite radio with real-time traffic service. The G55 features new 19-inch AMG light-alloy wheels, a new Alcantara headliner and a redesigned wood/leather selector lever.
Minor updates, added newly developed front seats and a new rear bench, and a choice of black or gray fabric upholstery or leather seats in either black, gray or chestnut as well as new ‘climatised’ multicontour seats. Other interior changes include the addition of an Aux-in socket in the glove compartment and a new ignition key and outside the new G-Class gets a modified spare wheel cover and two new paint options: “palladium silver metallic” and the “designo platinum magno” matte finish. In the US, the 2010 G-Class is offered with either a 224 hp V6 diesel (G 350 CDI) or two gasoline V8 engines producing 388 hp in the G500 and 507 hp in the G55 AMG model. Manufacturing contracts with Daimler AG have been renewed for the continued production of Mercedes-Benz’s G-Class at Magna Steyr’s facilities in Graz, Austria, until 2015.
Mercedes-Benz will update its G-class SUV for 2013, but there are virtually no changes outside. The significant changes outside are that the updated G-class gets LED running lights; second, there are turn indicators in its side mirrors; and third, the AMG gets a new bumper and grille. Mercedes-Benz’s brochure for the 2012 G550 describes the truck as “crafted by hand, untouched by time.” The majority of the G-class’s upgrades reside under its hood and behind its doors: A new interior, more modern amenities, and a new engine for the AMG model. Last year Mercedes sold only the standard G550 model, but for 2012, the powerful AMG version of the G-class is back after a yearlong vacation. Along with the new engine, the AMG’s badge changes from G55 to G63. Interior changes include a re-sculpted dashboard and center console to bring its appearance into its “corporate interior design,” and an added a color multifunction screen to the gauge cluster. The 2012 G-class had a central COMAND infotainment screen buried low on the center stack; that screen moves up to the top of the stack in the new G, and there’s now a COMAND controller just behind the shifter on the center console. The latest mbrace2 telematics system also is on board. Kept unchanged from the 2013 update are the passenger grab handle and the pinched-leather door-panel coverings. The steering wheel and gauges, however, are new. Both the 2013 G550 and G63 retain a full complement of off-road gear including those locking differentials as well as a low-range transfer case. The 2013 Gs now come standard with Distronic adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and updated Parktronic backup sensors and rearview camera. Finally, Mercedes revised the stability control to enable trailer stabilizing functionality.
The G550’s naturally aspirated 382-hp, 5.5-liter V-8 and seven-speed automatic carry over for 2013. As for the AMG model, the old G55’s supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 is replaced by a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 for 2013. Power is up by 44 hp to 544, and torque is an equal 44 units, to 560 lb-ft. Like other AMG Mercedes-Benz models with the new downsized V-8, the G63’s “63” nomenclature bears no connection to its actual engine displacement. The G63 also gets a new “Eco” engine stop-start system. Mercedes also fitted a seven-speed automatic transmission in place of the G55’s five-speed.
For markets other than the united States, Mercedes-Benz is introducing a new G65 AMG powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V-12. The big engine puts out 604 hp and gives a huge 738 lb-ft of torque. The G65 will not come to the United States because the expected limited sales volumes are not worth the effort of certifying the SUV for US market. Car magazines have been told the V-12 was forced into the comparatively small engine bay, which would make it difficult to certify to the United States’ federal crash standards.
Should Norway get invaded the Norwegian army has a right to requisition all civilian G-class vehicles for use in national defense.
The USMC Interim Fast Attack Vehicle (IFAV) is a modified version of the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen 290. It replaces the modified M-151A2¼ ton truck (MUTT jeep) used by the Marines as an FAV in the 1990s. The U.S. Marine Corps acquired 157 of the IFAVs distributed as follows:
|1||Convertible with fixed windshield||2400||Only civilian types: 460 & 463|
|2||Van||2400||Only 460/461 and military types|
|3||Station Wagon||2400||All types except Professional and Greenline military types|
|4||Van||2850||Only 460/461/Professional/Worker and military types|
|5||Pick-up||2850||Only 460/461 types|
|6||Station Wagon||2850||All types|
|7||Convertible with folding windshield||2400||Only military types|
|9||Chassis Cab||3120||Only 460/461 and military types|
|9,1||Chassis Cab||3400||Only 460/461/Professional and military types|
|10||Convertible with folding windshield||2850||Only military types|
|11||Chassis Double Cab||3120||Only 460/461 and military types|
|11,1||Chassis Double Cab||3400||Only 460/461 and military types|
|11,2||Chassis Double Cab 6×6||3400||Only Greenline military types|
Mercedes-AMG Chairman Volker Mornhinweg claims that one third of all G-Class vehicles sold to civilians are the G55 AMG model. The largest markets for G 55s are California, USA (in black and silver color mostly), and the United Arab Emirates with Dubai (in white color mostly)