When we drove the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen last year in Namibia, it conquered every grain of sand the pithing little desert could muster up. Then when we had it on road test – surprise, surprise, it felt like an urban invasion on Cape Town. Driving it in the city was like being back on the lounge room floor, playing with green, stick men soldiers, trying to incite a coup in a faraway land and I bet that’s exactly how all G-Wagen owners feel about their cars too.
Which brings us to the remarkable story of Gunther Holtorf and his wife Christine, who have travelled more than 800 000km (500 000 miles) in there Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Back in 1989, as the Berlin Wall fell, they set out on what was meant to be an 18-month tour of Africa. Things got a bit out of hand and now the former German airline executive has travelled the equivalent of 20 times around the planet, over 23 years, in the vehicle he has nicknamed ‘Otto.’
Remarkably, ‘Otto’ has never suffered a serious break down and after such a long time on the road, Holtorf says he knows the car so well, that he can fix any issue almost immediately. He, his wife and Otto have travelled through Australia, South America, deepest Africa and up to the base of Mount Everest.
Below is a slide show, with commentary from Gunther Holtorf and photographer David Lemke about the incredible journey. We proclaimed that you ignore the G-Wagens folkloric reputation at your peril and I guess we were absolutely right!