Mercedes-Benz and Pickup. A history of misunderstandings?

On 25 Octobre 2016 Mercedes-Benz presents its first pickup at Stockholm. However: Again and again, the company has concerned itself with this category of vehicle, cautiously approaching it, developing ideas, presenting concepts… only to shy away once more. Why? A look into the archive.

Vario Research Car: Variable concept

Concept car Vario Research Car

It goes without saying that Mercedes-Benz has always been occupied with the car of the future. In 1995 its deliberations in this field spawned the Vario Research Car (VRC), a concept car which could be transformed into a different vehicle in a matter of minutes courtesy of bodies made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CRP). It came in four variants – in addition to the sedan, estate and cabrio there was also a pickup. Although the appurtenant press release waxed lyrical about a "high-profile premiere" at the Geneva International Motor Show, the study sank into obscurity quickly. Nevertheless, a number of innovations which first saw the light of day in the VRC, such as Active Body Control, the color display or the central rotary actuator, did subsequently find their way into series production several years down the road.

170 V: Variable grandfather of the VRC

170 V Pickup

The 170 V can actually be seen as the original forebear of the VRC. When the model series had its world premiere in 1936, the terms "Active Body Control" and "color display" had not yet been invented, let alone the corresponding technology. Closer scrutiny does reveal a parallel between the oldie and the study from the 1990s, though: both are many-faceted characters. The robust 170 V hit the road as a sedan, roadster, estate, cabrio, delivery van – and as a pickup. The 170 V was also the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle whose production was resumed after the Second World War, rolling off the production line again from May 1946.

/8: A maverick takes the world by surprise

The /8 as pickup, as it was on the road in South America.

The Mercedes-Benz cars of the 114 and 115 series are legends today. Known as "/8" (spoken "Stroke Eight") among true classic car enthusiasts, there are enough stories about the magnificent sedans and coupés of these series to fill chronicles. What few people know is that there was also a pickup variant of the /8. The history of this singular creature is shrouded in mystery. The sparse facts are that Mercedes-Benz delivered CKD sets to Latin America. At Mercedes-Benz in Argentina platforms were put onto the chassis, behind the B-pillar. This pickup actually was distributed via the Mercedes-Benz dealer network. They came with a wow name to capture the imagination: "La Pickup".

"automotive declaration of independence"

Mercedes-Benz G-class

The G-Class is a long-running success story of Mercedes-Benz. As such, it's no surprise that bodybuilders have tried their hand at concocting their own signature versions of this classic - usually without the manufacturer's blessing. A fully MB-endorsed semi-open variant of the 461 model series which may be regarded as belonging to the pickup genre made its appearance in the 1990s. Nowadays, it’s certainly the G 63 AMG 6x6 that certainly shows the way to go (combined fuel consumption: 26.2-15.9 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 458.6 g/km.). Anyone wishing to drive this "automotive declaration of independence" - to cite the somewhat pathetic advertising claim - had to spend a great deal of money.

Long, longer, Viano Activity!

The Mercedes-Benz Viano Activity with extendable load floor.

Extendable spoilers? Nice to look at, that’s for sure. But nothing compared to what Mercedes-Benz conjured up with the Viano Activity. Unveiled as study at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show back in 2004, it combined "American style with European dimensions and dynamics". The special highlight was an extendable load floor which increased the van's length from a city-friendly 4.99 meters to an impressive 5.70 meters.

And the story goes on: The new Pickup concept

A select number of pickups bearing the Mercedes star already exists today. And there are most likely people in far-flung corners of the world who have, without further ado, sawn off the rear end of a standard Mercedes-Benz passenger car or van to transform it into their own signature pickup.

On 25 October 2016 Mercedes-Benz opened its first real pickup chapter. Find the recording here:

To the recording

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