The Mercedes-Benz G-class - otherwise known as the Gelandewagen - celebrates its thirtieth birthday this year. There are plenty of contemporary models that are riding streaks longer than that, but none of them have done so in quite the same manner as the G-wagen. You see, this isn't just a thirty-year-old nameplate; it's a thirty-year-old vehicle. A heavily updated one, to be sure, but still the same box Mercedes rolled out when Jimmy Carter was president and Journey hit number sixteen on the Billboard charts with "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'." Not to belabor the point, but this rig hit the streets the same year that the Gairy dictatorship in Grenada was overthrown by the New Jewel Movement. Gosh, does that make me feel old.
For the G's thirtieth birthday, Mercedes gave it a 382-hp, 5.5-liter V-8, a new grille, and an upgraded Comand navigation system. I, too, wanted to celebrate the G's birthday, but in a way that would recall its rustic origins as a Spartan off-roader and military vehicle. And that's how I ended up with a $100,000 plow truck.
I've always wanted to try my hand as a plow driver, and the G-class, with its sturdy body-on-frame construction and cosseting interior, seems like it would make a fine plowagen. After assuring Mercedes personnel that I won't permanently deface their silver 2009 G550, I take it to plow manufacturer Curtis Industries in Worcester, Massachusetts, to see if the truck is capable of wielding a blade. Curtis conducts a front-end load test and determines that the G is stout enough for plow duty. Well, of course it is. Just look at it.
A week later, the Mercedes is wearing a seven-foot Curtis Home-Pro plow on its nose and the radar maps are showing a monster storm on the way. The epicenter will be in central Maine, so I put on my Sno-Pro logo hat, grab my yellow rooftop strobe light, and head north on I-95. I'm not sure where I'm going or what I'm going to plow, but with most New England towns over budget on snow removal, I'm sure someone will be happy to see me and my G. To reference Homer Simpson's "Mr. Plow" TV ad, "You're fully bonded and licensed by the city, aren't you, Mr. Plow?" Shut up, boy.