When in February 1979 the Mercedes-Benz G-Models were presented, a totally new terrain was entered. Already during the war Mercedes-Benz had made cross-country cars which were, however, primarily used by civil as well as non-civil state institutions. The new generation of off-road cars were, on the one hand, conceived as an exclusive vehicle for free time activities, on the other hand, for heavy use in industrial and community areas.
The development took place in co-operation with the Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG which extended the Puch plant in Graz-Thondorf for the series production of the G-Models. First, on the basis of a co-operation contract, the „Gelände-Fahrzeug GmbH“ (off-road vehicles ltd.), in which both partners participated with 50 %, signed responsible for the production. In August 1981 the participation of Daimler-Benz in the GFG was given up. Ever since, Mercedes-Benz off-road vehicles are produced by Steyr-Daimler-Puch as subcontractors. In Austria, Switzerland and the COMECON countries the otherwise totally identical vehicles are sold under the trademark „Puch“.
The G-Series model range originally comprised four engine- and five body-variants as well as chassis with two different frame lengths and wheelbases. Besides an open car with short wheelbase one could also choose a station wagon, as well as a box-type truck on a short or long chassis. As to aggregates and engines one had gone back to proven components – quite in line with the modular system long practised by Daimler-Benz. As engines the 2.4-liter and 3.0-liter Diesel aggregates, the 2.3-liter carburettor engine and the 2.8-liter injection engine, all of them known from series 123, were used. Internally all models and variants were assigned to series 460.
In the course of continuous model improvement and further development the interior equipment was refined several times and the range of special equipment constantly extended. In addition, the range of engines was changed as well. In April 1982, 230 GE with the 2.3-liter injection engine M 102 was presented. On the domestic market it functioned as the successor of the former 230 G. Since 1986 it was also available on demand with a three-way catalyst. Since 1986 a variant with 2.0-liter injection engine was exclusively produced as an export model for Italy. In October 1987 the 250 GD with its 2.5-liter 5-cylinder Diesel engine OM 602 was introduced into the market and replaced the proven 240 GD.
A new chapter in the history of the G model began in September 1989, when a fundamentally reworked model line-up – internal designation: 463 series – was presented. For commercial customers, model series 460 with all its body versions was kept in the sales program.
In the beginning of 1992, both diesel versions of the 460 series were replaced with the new type 290 GD; it was assigned to the 461 series, like the still available 230 GE. In the years before that, this designation had been limited to the versions with 24-volt on-board electronics, which were predominantly used for non-civil purposes.