Mercedes-Benz secured military contracts for the vehicle in the late 1970s and offered a civilian version to the public in 1979. Designed to be a durable, reliable, and rugged off-roader, the G-wagen utilizes three fully locking differentials (one of the few vehicles sold in the U.S. to have such, along with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Toyota 80-series Land Cruiser, Pinzgauer High Mobility All-Terrain Vehicle, and Mercedes-Benz Unimog). Among the engines offered in the G-Class for the 2004 model year is a 5.5-litre V8.
Marking its 25th anniversary, the 2005 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG was relaunched as the G55 Kompressor or G55K and received a boost in power, thanks to a 5.5-liter, supercharged V8 developing 469hp (350kW) and 516lb·ft (700N·m). of torque.
The G-Wagen was 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 rate of 4,000 to 6,000 units.