No, the X-Class is not the first of its kind.
With the X-Class debuting in production form in just a couple of days, we have decided to have a look at its ancestors, some of which were concepts while others actually made it to the streets.
In 1936, Mercedes introduced the 170 V you see above and offered it not only as a pickup, but also in multiple other body styles: sedan, roadster, wagon, and cabriolet. There was even a four-door cabriolet with a large fabric roof, along with multiple other versions adapted for taxi, police, ambulance, military, and mountain rescue services.
The “V” in the name was an abbreviation of the German word “vron” (“front”) as a way to denote the engine’s placement in the front rather than at the back as it was the case with the 170 H (“Heck” = “rear”). The two shared the same engine, a four-cylinder, 1.7-liter delivering 37 hp to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual gearbox.
The 170 V will go down in history as the first Mercedes vehicle to be manufactured after the end of the Second World War. Production resumed in May 1946.
Let’s fast forward to the early 1970s when the W115 was alive and kicking. Even Mercedes says the “history of this singular creature is shrouded in mystery.” From the very little info available, it is believed Mercedes shipped CKD (Complete Knock Down) sets to Latin America. The pickup truck conversion took place in Argentina and the workhorse was actually sold through Mercedes’ dealer network. The model’s name? “La Pickup,” so it was the LaFerrari of utes.
The immortal G-Class belonging to the W461 was launched in 1990 when the regular W463 also came out. The former was produced until 2001 for military purposes and there were also versions tailored to parapublic service and utility. It was then replaced by the W463-based model still available today. The outgoing G-Class generation has led to the creation of the bonkers G63 6x6, which is technically a pickup truck as well.
In 1995, Mercedes explored the idea of creating a four-in-one car with the Vario Research Car we talked about a month ago in our Concept We Forgot series. A front-wheel-drive showcar, the multi-purpose vehicle was envisioned as a sedan, wagon, cabriolet, and as a pickup. Switching from one body style to another took 15 minutes. You can think of it as a spiritual successor of the 170 V.
It represented Mercedes’ first car to have drive-by-wire technology for the brakes and steering. In addition, the VRC concept also had a CFRP body and boasted an early implementation of a traffic sign detection system.
Another concept, the Viano Activity, was presented at the 2004 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show. Back then, Mercedes said it had “American style with European dimensions and dynamics.” Its most interesting feature was an extendable load floor boosting the van’s overall length from 4.99 meters (196.4 inches) to 5.70 meters (224.4 inches).
Last year at the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes previewed its first-ever X-Class pickup truck with a pair of concepts. The production model is slated to debut on Tuesday, but it won’t be a 100% Mercedes model since the utilitarian vehicle will ride on a Navara / Alaskan platform and will be built by Nissan and Renault.
Photos of the Mercedes-Benz G 300 CDI Professional Pritsche (W 461): M 93