The former aviation manager, and Otto his G-Class have been long term companions having bought his car in 1988. While unsure of Mercedes-Benz’ claim of ‘Where there is a G, there is a way’ at the time, over the years Otto’s capabilities stood the test of time.
In 1989, Gunther and his late wife, Christine Holtorf set out for an 18-month tour of Africa in their Mercedes Benz G Wagen. That turned into travelling through 215 countries, having visited India in 2005. Now his G-Class has gone almost 900,000 kilometres. A third of roads were unmetalled, rough, muddy or potholed tracks. The 26 year old adventure has seen Gunther Holtorf travel to almost every country.
Holtorf hasn’t been one for bookings and hotels, and has slept many a night in his G-Class, while choosing to prepare meals in the open on a portable field kitchen. Staying close to nature and people, doing away will all that was unnecessary. The same principle held true for his car too as he believes with fewer features in a vehicle, there’s less that can go wrong. He did remove the standard central locking system and air conditioning, and give them away.
This apart Otto is a series-production version with its original powertrain, engine, transmission and axles intact. Ladder-frame nor bodywork reveal fatigue signs of fatigue. Springs have been reinforced, and heavy-duty shock absorbers were installed to manage extra load in the form of expedition equipment, food, fuel canisters, tools, replacement parts and spare wheels. At 3.3 tonnes, Otto was 500 kilograms over permissible gross vehicle weight.
Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche says this G has only one had a single owner, and having been cared for, is practically only run-in. Otto isn’t just a great display vehicle at Mercedes-Benz Museum, but will travel to public events held by Daimler. Since 1979, 250,000+ G-Class units have been made. 80% of these are still in operation. As for Otto and Gunther Holtorf, the journey is finally over together as the 77 year-old handed over his vehicle keys to Dieter Zetsche. Yes, he will visit his G at the museum.