How do you stand out from the masses of your own kind? To complicate matters, how do you stand out when you are constrained by a certain framework, say, a uniform? This is best seen in the army. An experienced eye can easily distinguish an old soldier from the monotonous green mass of soldiers. His uniform seems to be the same for everyone and his belt is slightly different color.
Variants of “tuning” military uniforms can be divided into two categories – into simple “decoration” and those changes that are made for greater comfort. For example, the brass letters on epaulets, a bent belt buckle, or an accordion braided with one’s own hands from a parachute line belong to the first category, but the skilfully stitched uniform belongs to the second one.
This also applies to cars. In practice, car tuning is divided into two types: for comfort and for image. You can try to amaze people around you by screwing on cast “tazik” disks and painting them in orange color or by sticking a dozen of blue bulbs into all available holes in car body, and you can, without thinking about the external effect, take care of yourself. For example, it is possible to install comfortable seats, in which a spine will not shrivel up in pants after a long road, or a cool stereo system, to please your ear with good music. But it is much more difficult to stay within the limits of the uniform. After all, it’s no secret that cars also have their own “table of ranks”.
The most ordinary-looking Mercedes-Benz Gelaendewagen, a classic of the German car industry – strict and square, like a German World War II tank – there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these around Moscow. Though not quite usual – a trained eye will see the nameplates of AMG, the court tuning atelier of Mercedes-Benz in certain places. Also not too exotic – okay, such cars in a serious tuning, of course, not hundreds, but certainly there are dozens – in Moscow today you can meet “graduates” of all well-known tuning studios in any country in the world. Even after opening the car doors it is not immediately clear that the car is one of a kind. At first sight, everything is as usual: Spartan interior, leather and wooden inserts. The level of improvements you will understand later, when you start to scrutinize details. Modesty of appearance of this car is quite deceptive. It does not strike the eye, but the car is completely fitted for its owner.
How much costs to be modest? The Moscow company “Armortech”, where the car underwent, so to say, its final modification, answered evasively – a little bit cheaper than the base cost of the car. Taking into account, that the cost of the simplest car of G-class begins about a mark in 100 thousand dollars, it is possible to assume, that it is not so cheap to be modest. Probably even on the contrary.
Actually, people who buy Gelaendewagen don’t dare to call themselves poor. But they know how to count money and know the price for things, because they buy one of the most durable and reliable cars in the world for the worthy price. According to official statistics, about eighty percent of all cars of this brand are still running, and the losses were mostly cars that died in accidents or on the battlefield. This car has had more opportunities to take part in combat in twenty years (G-Class cars have been produced since 1981) than any other. In addition to the Bundeswehr army, which mainly uses Gelandwagens, these cars are in service with many armies of the world. Not only European officers, but also African and Asian militaries, and even Indonesian generals, for whom the cars are produced in the most horrible modification – without doors, but with huge scissors on the front bumper – for cutting barbed wire. The French modification of “Gelendwagen” Peugeot P4 with the 70 hp diesel engine can be considered as a “TV star” – this car is in the UN armament and is most often shown on TV in the news bulletins, unwittingly creating a precedent of the unintentional product placement.
However we shall return to our peace car. So, originally it was the most usual Gelaendewagen. Hands of masters from AMG atelier have touched it very slightly – only the engine has been changed. By increasing the stroke of pistons from 84 to 92 millimeters, the working volume of the engine received an additional half-liter. Due to this the power has increased by 50 “horses”, up to 354 hp, and torque grew to 525 Nm. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h decreased by two and a half seconds and is only 7.4 seconds, allowing this “Gelendwagen” to compete on equal terms with the traffic lights races with cars. On the track the car behaves livelier, as the maximum speed has increased to 210 km/hour. By the way, it’s quite modest performance for a tuned Helendwagen. The motorists from tuning studio Carlsson offer its own version of V8 – with working volume of 5.7 liter, 355 horsepower and maximum speed of 220 km/hour. And the notorious Brabus company increases the engine capacity even more – up to 5.8 liters, taking 375 “horses” from this volume. In addition to that, as a rule, the tuning versions of other ateliers reprogrammed the brains of engine management and five-speed automatic or manual (which is rarer) gearboxes, which brings acceleration time “up to a hundred” to 6.9 seconds – almost incredible figure for a car weighing two tons.
When the engine revision was finished, the German specialists took part in the construction of the truck, and all further work on it was done in our country. Why to feed the Germans, when you can support the domestic manufacturer? Especially if it is a question of fitting the car “to itself”. Here you can keep everything under control, periodically stopping by to look at the process. It is easier to explain to our masters exactly what you want, and besides, for local hobbyists there are no words “It’s impossible!” that Germans sometimes say. As a result, you will get what you want faster and cheaper than in the West, and the quality of the work will not be worse – certainly if you know where to go.
That is why even such details as a set of branded AMG sill plates with illumination were installed here, in the Moscow firm “Armortech”. As well as all the elements of the exterior trim – a spoiler, kangaroo and other shiny hardware like headlight protection. And, of course, double xenon headlights – what a Gelaendewagen without blue xenon light! However, it was not difficult to screw it all in – the job is standard. Much more interesting is what became of the interior. One should forget about the word “standard” here, though it looks nothing unusual. Well, except that the front seats don’t look as the standard. Actually, the interior is completely exclusive. There is a professional music system of Hi-End level on the basis of components of Swedish firm DLS and Japanese Pioneer which includes two impressive subwoofers, skillfully installed in luggage compartment, and the whole four amplifiers, each of which is intended for work with “own” group of loudspeakers. As a result, the quality and volume of the music in this car is so that you can bravely go to the nearest competitions in car audio. Everything that is possible is covered with leather, even the cases of subwoofers and the dashboard. Interior door panels, luggage compartment and ceiling are also covered with leather. The interior uses 20 square meters of leather. Everything that comes out of the “leather kingdom” received a wood veneer of the same color as the regular inserts. This list includes door handles, handbrake lever, door buttons and even ashtray covers. But it can be called a trifle (if we forget about the price, equal to the price of a new “Ten”) compared with the technical alterations of the interior. The most serious part of the work was about the seats. At that, due to efforts of our craftsmen, they received electric drive of lengthwise adjustment, which Recaro company never does. But it is impossible for the owner of such car as Gelaendewa-gen to do it manually, isn’t it? Between the front seats the console borrowed from the last generation of “S”-class took its place. It would seem to be a trifle, but to cram it in there was very difficult engineering task. Native front seats moved back – now instead of back “bench” there are two separate seats with all proper adjustments. Moreover, for greater convenience the back row was moved back by 15 cm. Now rear sofa passengers can easily stretch out their legs – there is so much space that one can tie shoelaces! For this reason I had to throw out the benches along the rear sides – the heavy heritage of the army past of the car. However, the soldiers will not be transported in this car, so it is not a big loss. All the seats – both front and rear – received inserts of softer-than-leather material – alcantara. By the way, do not think that the appearance of front anatomic seats is caused by the care of the driver. Simply the owner of the car likes to drive and go somewhere to the nature with his family on weekends. Therefore, the towbar is not just a “berth for dummies”, but quite a functional element, because it is a trailer with a snowmobile or a jet ski is hooked on it – depending on the season.
There is a saying: there is a car, and there is a Mercedes – there is a Mercedes, and there is a Gelendevagen. Looking at this car, we want to add: there is a “Gelendewagen”, and there is a tuned Gelaendewagen AMG, an individual car with a modest appearance of an army jeep and the highest level of internal comfort.