S Josef Schantl is beaming all over the place for the first few meters Face. “That purring diesel, the big steering wheel, the bony gearshift - wonderful.” It has been many years since the trained vehicle mechanic drove a G from the first W 460 series. He plays excitedly with the levers and switches of the original 79 model. He taps the broken tachometer with his index finger and laughs. Sepp - as everyone calls him - laughs most of the time anyway. The sixty-year-old knows the route from the Puch works in Graz to the test track on Berg Schöckl. This is his home. He greets passers-by, stops every now and then for a short chat and occasionally tells stories that he has experienced with the Mercedes G-Class in more than three decades.
Martyrdom on the Schöckl
He raves about the heat tests in Tunisia or about the Dutch queen and like him got stuck in a snowdrift. Mika Häkkinen and his wife also conquered the 1445 meter high Schöckl with Sepp. You could listen to stories about the old days for hours.
The barrier to the test track is open. Finally the red 240 is allowed into the area. It stutters, rattles, and squeaks. The driver starts to laugh uproariously: “My God, how did we endure it earlier? What fun. ”Like a little boy, the Austrian enjoys every meter. He climbed the barren peak for more than 40 years for the Puch development - initially with Haflinger and Pinzgauer. The first prototypes of the G came in the mid-1970s, followed by pre-production models and later all development stages.
Whenever there was a new engine or chassis changes, the cars had to survive 4000 kilometers on the Schöckl. That corresponds to about 300,000 kilometers in normal life. The former test driver adds up: 'In total, I have probably half a million off-road kilometers under my belt.' But he is far from fed up with the rubble. In his private life, Sepp drives a higher-level Puch-Panda with three differential locks - but that's another story.