According to published history, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class began its’ development in 1970’s, at the behest of the Shah of Iran. At the time, it was intended as a military vehicle, but was later evolved to include a civilian variant. This history has been reinforced through the four decade lifespan of the iconic Mercedes vehicle, but the G-Class wasn’t actually introduced to the United States until the 2002 model year.
With the restyled 2019 G-Class generating so much excitement stateside, the origin story is incomplete without exploring the journey which brought it to America. This controversial tale is seldom told, considered by many to be the darkest moment in the history of the Mercedes-Benz line.
You see, what most consumers don’t realize is that U.S. introduction of the G-Class was actually inspired by what would spawn the mother of all internet memes. Specifically, we’re talking about the following scene from ‘The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring’
It’s actually a little-known fact, that the Mercedes G-Class was reconfigured by designer Klaus der Ringe for the American marketplace. Following a lengthy search for inspiration, Herr der Ringe, a notorious Tolkien enthusiast had just completed his viewing of ‘Fellowship’ when he felt an immediate compulsion to create ‘one Benz to rule them all’.
According to sources close to Herr der Ringe, higher-ups were initially skeptical of his intentions. “One does not simply…recreate a Mercedes-Benz”, they had said when he shared his plans. But that throwing of the proverbial gauntlet was all that it took for Herr der Ringe to accept the challenge.
That said, ‘accept’ may be too passive a word to describe his level of commitment. In fact, he was quoted as saying, “Wir schwören den Herren des Kostbaren zu dienen” which translates loosely to, “We swear to serve the masters of the Precious.”
By all accounts, Herr de Ring became a man obsessed. Embracing solitude, he refused food, drink or sunlight until the G-Class was ready for the American consumer. Unfortunately, it was too much for his diminutive frame to bear, and he had withered away into an emaciated version of himself.
As co-workers arrived to drive the finished product from his design lab, Herr der Ringe was reported to have fallen into an uncontrollable fit of rage, screaming, “My precious. My precious.” As shown in the following security footage, the furious designer can be seen grabbing for the keys, accidentally ripping the keychain ring off, and falling into the carbon-fiber processing tank.
While the G-Class would expand successfully into the market, the life of its creator Klaus der Ringe would fade into obscurity. Any correlation between the vehicle and Peter Jackson’s award-winning film series would be largely discredited.
However, as an interesting automotive footnote, it was discovered that Herr de Ringe’s maternal grandfather had actually been responsible for creating Audi’s iconic ‘Five-Ring’ emblem, as well as Germany’s ‘Thou Shall Not Pass’ signs founded scattered across the Autobahn.