The strange history of Mercedes-Benz pick-up trucks
As Mercedes reveals its all-new X-Class pick-up, we leaf through Merc's history books to discover its roots...
The all-new Mercedes-Benz pick-up will thrust Mercedes into the hotly-contested global market for open-backed utility vehicles for the first time but a trawl back through the archives reveals a number of other pick-up trucks have carried the 3-pointed star.
The new Mercedes pick-up will be based on the same platform as the Nissan NP300 Navara and upcoming Renault Alaskan, as part of the deal that sees Mercedes share parts and technical knowledge with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Since it will sit at the plusher end of the pick-up market, it will have to contend with the Volkswagen Amarok when it goes on sale in 2017.
This is the most commited Mercedes has ever been to a modern production pick-up project but the roots of the new Mercedes truck can be traced back to the 1940s by way of a number of oddball concepts and one-off creations. Here we've assembled some of the highlights of the brand's limited pick-up truck past.
Scroll down for Mercedes’ attempts at pick-up truckery through the ages…
Mercedes 170 V flatbed
Mercedes’ earliest attempts at a pick-up was the 170 V flatbed. Based on the 170 V saloon car - which was arguably the brand’s E-Class-equivelant car during the Second World War - the flatbed version was one of the commercially focused options available to customers. In fact, when the war ended, the flatbed was the first vehicle to have production resumed by Mercedes.
Mercedes G-Class/G 63 AMG 6x6
Similar to the Land Rover Defender, the Mercedes G-Class or Gelandewagen has pretty much always had a pick-up body style available to buyers. The chunky 4x4 has always been a stalwart part of Mercedes’ model line-up since it went into production in 1979. You can still get a pick-up version of the G-Class through the G-Class Professional programme today.
In 2013, the G-Class pick-up became a steroidal monstrosity in the shape of the G 63 AMG 6x6. Complete with six driven wheels, shock absorbers the size of telegraph poles and enough power to worry sports cars, the enormous pick-up became a symbol of ultimate decadence. To make sure it copes with literally any terrain you throw at it, the tyres can be deflated and re-inflated at the push of a button. Mercedes called it the “automotive declaration of independence.” Crikey!
Mercedes W115 pick-up
Only in production for a brief period in Argentina, the W115 pick-up is probably the most glamorous car here and arguably one of the most glamorous pick-ups of all time. The flatbed version of the sleek seventies saloon car was given the catchy nickname of “La Pickup” and featured a diesel engine.
Mercedes Vario Research Car
Before the Vario name was slapped on those little minibuses you see on countryside commuter routes, it was first found on this concept car from 1995. Based on what looks like a C-Class of the era, the design study used carbon fibre to show off the Vario’s ability to be a car for any occasion.
Along with estate, coupe and cabriolet rear body panels, there was also a pick-up version. Apparently the changeover between bodies could be done in 15 minutes, and the concept introduced new advances like colour screen displays, drive-by-wire steering and Mercedes’ now-ubiquitous Active Body Control.
Mercedes Viano Activity
Like the Vario concept car above, this design study was mean to add a bit more flexibility to the Viano van with the addition of an extendable pick-up style flatbed at the rear. Fitted with silver body panelling and big alloy wheels, the Viano mixed "American style with European dimensions and dynamism". The extendable cargo area meant the Viano’s length could be increased from 4.99 metres to 5.7 metres.
Which of these Mercedes trucks is your favourite? Let us know in the comments...