1990 mercedes-benz 240gd scout
AT A GLANCE
ENGINE: 2.4L Mercedes diesel
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed manual with 2-speed transfer case and locking differentials
MILEAGE: 69.681 km (42,202 miles)
EXTERIOR: High Durability White with Black canvas roof and wheels
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Few vehicles have as interesting a history as the fabled “Geländewagen” (“all terrain vehicle”) from Mercedes-Benz. It is a history that involves the legendary german automaker, of course, but also the Austrian Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the Argentine military, and even the Shah of Iran. Designed by Mercedes in Germany and built by Steyr in Austria, the “G-wagen” has remained a stalwart of militaries throughout the world for all the reasons you would think. It’s tough as nails, capable as hell, and as refined and easy to operate as you would expect from Mercedes-Benz.
Originally delivered to the Swiss Army, in which it serviced until being decommissioned just a few years ago, this 240GD “Scout” model features the decontented interior, canvas roof and cut down canvas doors that have made the Scout such a sought after choice with adventure enthusiasts. Originally NATO green, we stripped it and refinished the body in a textured, high-build white paint, inside and out. The chassis, rust free and straight, has been repainted in its original chassis black, and the wheels, bumpers and other trim have been sprayed black to match. The canvas roof has been replaced recently with a new black version, and oversized off road tires (9.5x33x16) have been fitted.
Inside, the metal portions of the dashboard have been resprayed black to match the interior trim, and the seats have been recovered in black vinyl with a pattern that matches the original Mercedes-Benz badged civilian versions. One rear jump seat is fitted in the cargo compartment.
Top to bottom, inside and out, the truck has been carefully attended to, resulting in a stunning example. Everything fits correctly, works correctly, and looks as it should.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
For those used to the rather “agricultural” driving experience provided by vintage off roaders from Land Rover, Toyota, Jeep and other marques, a Geländewagen offers a uniquely refined counterpoint. After a brief warm of the glow plugs the Mercedes-Benz diesel engine fires quickly and settles into a smooth, quiet idle. This engine and 4-speed manual transmission, used for many years in Mercedes-Benz’s beloved 240D sedans, does not provide startling quickness but what it lacks in outright power it more than makes up for in refinement, a broad torque delivery, and jaw-dropping reliability. Select first gear, let the clutch out, and you’re off.
With a healthy delivery of torque available right off idle and a manual gear change, driving the 240GD is as simple and comfy as any 1980’s Mercedes sedan. Power is perfectly adequate for use on all types of roadways, and keeping up with modern traffic is effortless. Fully highway capable, the 240GD will cruise all day long at 65 mph, with a bit more in reserve if you’ve had one too many coffees.
The power steering is light, precise and very direct, and the brakes are smooth and powerful, with a progressive pedal, plenty of feel, and no noise, vibration or drift. Rowing up and down through the gears requires no particular skill, as the cogs are easy to find and the shift feel is positive and sure.
Off road is where any 4x4 shows its chops, of course, and the Scout doesn’t disappoint. With long travel coil springs, plenty of clearance, very high front and rear departure angles, and those nobbly tires, we haven’t yet encountered anything a 240GD can’t drive over or through with astonishing ease. In normal tarmac use (or, frankly, even most off road conditions) 2WD is plenty, but 4WD is just a quick shift away using the transfer case lever which engages with well maintained ease. If things get even tougher, there is low range, of course, and two additional levers allow you to individually lock or unlock the differentials as you see fit.
It’s a singular experience, driving a Scout. It gives you the rugged sense of adventure that makes vintage 4x4’s so inspiring, and the off road capability to back up that feeling with real abilities. Yet it also provides a very high level of refinement and an ease-of-use that no other vintage off roader can really equal. In Scout form there is an open, airy sense of occasion to the drive, and the change the fully open-topped use is just a few moments away, but in typically Mercedes fashion it’s also solid and feel built like a tank. Every control feels overbuilt and sturdy, every switch feels like it will survive an apocalypse, and everything give a sense of teutonic engineering brilliance. As we have come to expect from Swiss Army vehicle, this example has always been faultlessly maintained, carefully driven over very low miles, and never damaged, and it shows in the way it runs and drives.
It’s a fantastic vehicle, this Scout. The perfect beach car, mountain explorer, or town runabout, it has been freshly serviced and needs nothing.