Virgil Abloh Helped Create a Crazy G-Wagen Concept -

Virgil Abloh Helped Create a Crazy G-Wagen Concept

 Virgil Abloh Helped Create a Crazy G-Wagen Concept

“What happens if I press the big red button?” I ask. I’m talking about the massive plunger between the seats of the Project Geländewagen concept, co-designed by Virgil Abloh, men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton and founder of Off-White, and Gorden Wagener, the chief designer of Mercedes-Benz. The button looks like it’ll fire off a nuclear arsenal—or at the very least, blow the doors and roof off this baby blue lizard-low G-Wagen in a one-time-only pyrotechnic celebration of smashing unmarked buttons.

Analog gauges, a steering wheel borrowed from a hypercar, and a very smashable start button

Bafic, courtesy Mercedes-Benz

“The ignition starts,” says G-Wagen designer G. Wagener. Fine then. At least everything else about Project Geländewagen is wonderfully batshit, from the three weeks spent choosing the paint, down to the story Abloh tells of Drake starting a friendly pissing match over who has the better Mercedes-Benz plug. (We’ll get there.)

Project Geländewagen was born as an exercise in what-if. A couple years ago, Wagener and Abloh connected and started flinging around ideas about how they could collaborate. The duo landed on a vehicle they’ve both owned and loved: the G-Wagen, the brutally utilitarian SUV with a 41-year history of U.N. work, Pope transportation, and rap shout-outs. “The G-Wagen, to me, is one of my most favorite objects of design, period,” said Abloh. “It sits up there next to the iPhone by Steve Jobs. It’s timeless.”

Hello, Project Geländewagen 

Bafic, courtesy Mercedes-Benz

No windows, no screens, and a simple fabric door pull.

Bafic, courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Their game plan: make an AMG G63 a whole hell of a lot less useful by making it as fast as possible—which meant finding a way to get more extreme than a 577 horsepower street-legal apartment building that hits 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. On the Project Geländewagen moodboard was the Jordan 1 Abloh made as part of “The Ten” collection for Nike in 2017, a prime example of Ablohvian deconstruction. “I’d never seen a deconstructed car on the road, except for on the racetrack,” he says. “You see that in a drag race car, or a NASCAR.” Which explains the nets in place of windows.

Abloh and Wagener continued gutting the cabin. What’s left, more or less: a couple race seats, that big start button, X-ed out air vents, a roll cage, and the starfighter-esque steering wheel borrowed from Mercedes-AMG’s upcoming $2.72 million Project ONE hypercar. 

The track-ready (but not street-legal) Project Geländewagen sits wincingly low, a speedbump away from being totaled, wrapped in a thick body kit. It’s hard to tell from photos, but the baby blue paint has been hand-sanded to give it a variegated tonal effect. “I was interested in natural textures like marble, wood, Venetian plasters,” says Abloh. “And this paint finish has a historical context within racing, of reducing the weight of cars by shaving off paint. It aligned with our ethos of speed, but also that it’s hand finished, and to me, the sight of a human hand, it means value to me.” The whole thing sits on cartoonishly large 25-inch versions of AMG’s iconic Monoblocs.

Hand-sanded to imperfection.

Bafic, courtesy Mercedes-Benz

[shouting over Lil Jon’s “Get Low”] THESE ARE 25″ AMG MONOBLOC WHEELS.

Bafic, courtesy Mercedes-Benz

“To me, that’s the wheel,” says Abloh. “When I think of Jay Z, I think of that wheel. I remember the first time I saw a Mercedes in a rap video, growing up outside of Chicago, being like, ‘I want to be in that world.’ Those are signifiers in my culture that-

Heads-up, this is where Drake comes in.

Wagener: “Oh, by the way Virgil, did you see our Vision Mercedes Maybach concept in Drake’s video?”

Abloh: “Yeah. He texted me right before. He’s like, ‘I know you have a car coming, but you don’t have these.’”

Wagener: “He took his private jet to pick them up.”

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