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Puch 240 GD in the Alps: Alpine off-road adventure in the G-model

Puch 240 GD in the Alps
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P The freight is ready at nine o'clock. Four boxes full of pasta, muesli bars and sweets as well as three barrels of beer - valuable food for exhausted mountaineers who return from the summit of the striking 3,312 meter high Piz Buin. Or for hikers who can feel just as exhausted after arriving at the Wiesbadener Hütte as Reinhold Messner once did after climbing Mount Everest.

The all-rounder G looks like a fortress

Hüttenwirt Heinrich Lorenz inspects the lashing of the cargo in the Puch 240 GD on the west bank of the Silvretta reservoir, but secretly would have wished for a little more loading capacity than the short version of the G-model in the luggage compartment and on the back seat. But the stuff has to go up, everything that still works today, because the summer season starts tomorrow (June 20). You can't miss the path, explains Lorenz - the rock on the left, the abyss on the right. Should he wait for us at the particularly tricky places?

Of course not, is the answer, photographer Hardy Mutschler and I are confident. Lorenz's looks suggest that he trusts the car to cover the route; if in doubt, the G will sort it out. Then the Austrian disappears on the narrow hiking trail in the midst of a magnificent mountain backdrop. His vehicle: a fully loaded van from the Italian manufacturer Caron. Four-wheel drive (of course), a total of 24 forward gears, a 45 degree steering angle and a central joint in the frame so that all wheels are always in contact with the ground. At this sight, even a seasoned Unimog falls into a deep depression.

However, the first few meters in the Puch make you feel confident. The H license plate is emblazoned like an award on the front left above the bumper. For a 30-year construction period, during which many cars failed to compete with a G-model off-road, regardless of whether a Puch emblem or the Mercedes star adorns its unmistakable face. It stands there like a fortress, an all-rounder that has been manufactured by Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG (today Magna Steyr AG) in Graz since 1979. And now seems to mock us because we can come up with nothing more than this promenade to seriously lure him from the reserve.

The Austrian G-model is happy off-road

The Puch G240 GD needs difficult terrain to make the driver completely happy. After seven years of development and numerous extreme tests, however, you can confidently assume a certain degree of sovereigntyWear show. It had taken so long for Mercedes, the supplier of the axles and engines, and Puch, where the all-wheel drive system was devised, to be sure that they had created an almost unrivaled vehicle for the roughest. Around 90 percent of the G-models produced in Graz to date bear the Mercedes-Benz name. The identical versions such as our 240 GD offered in Austria, Switzerland and Eastern Europe are based on Puch.

From now on, it rolls unstoppably uphill in the extremely short gears of the reduced gearbox. Suddenly the car has the self-assurance of a cogwheel train, no longer a trace of the weak torque of the 72 hp diesel, which made the journey over the winding Silvretta High Alpine Road so difficult.

Even the additional weight of a handful of students who are on a hiking day with their class and steal a ride for a few meters on the rear bumper at walking pace, don't let our G get seriously out of step.

In the next moment, the shimmering turquoise reservoir disappears from view, and civilization finally ends with the mobile phone network. There is only one direction of travel because there is no turning point - uphill, through a valley diagonally on the slope towards the snow-covered giants Piz Buin and Silvrettahorn. In the open Puch, this colossal panorama of the crew imposes itself unhindered from all sides. Rarely have I seen the Alps on such a perfect day as today, and can't get enough of what is on offer.

Joker of the Puch G 240: two differential locks

It's a good eight kilometers from the reservoir, which is already 2,030 meters above sea level, to the Wiesbadener Hut, the path covers an altitude of 413 meters. Values ​​that in theory do not impress anyone. In practice, things look somehow different. Namely when the route carved into the rock turns out to be only a few centimeters wider than the car (which it feels like it does most of the time). Obviously, the mountain requires a sacrifice for a carefree climb, the left wing mirror for example. The abyss on the passenger side should now be over a hundred meters deep. Getting out of the car is ruled out at such passages.

Rocky heels, deep gullies or remnants of snow also ensure a humble posture at the wheel; The route only impresses the driver and photographer, but not the car. On these meters, an old and simple recipe proves its worth: a lot of ground clearance combined with lavishly profiled tires, in this case not standard, but extremely impressive 235s, which are called 'Mud Terrain' and literally interlock with the ground.

If necessary - the last joker, so to speak - two locks could be activated, each 100 percent on theDifferentials from both axes act. Then this brave Puch would probably even carry Hardy and me to the summit cross of the approaching Piz Buin. But although the G is struggling properly, it does not seem to have reached its limits for a long time. It is almost unbelievable what 72 hp are capable of with a 1,900 kilo car plus crew. The Puch will no longer need the differential locks that day. It's a shame, actually.

Gradually, Hardy and I get used to the traveling pace just above walking pace, and our careful navigation in the rough terrain reminds us of the French cinema classic 'Wages of Fear'. Loaded to the brim with nitroglycerine, you would run out of steam now, probably not with beer and pasta as freight, any initial concerns have long since vanished in the clear mountain air. If we could, or better: should - we would be cruising off-road through the Alps in this G for the next three weeks.

Much too quickly, a few turns later, the Wiesbadener hut appears, a camp for 200 people terrific view. Although the opening is not planned for tomorrow, the terrace is surprisingly busy. That is nothing against the rush at the weekend, explains hut manager Lorenz, and takes delivery of the freight. It looks like he's in dire need of supplies. The Puch and we wouldn't mind.

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