A repeat customer of ours went out and bought a new G55, and loved it. What he did not love was the plastic trim and generic look of it. Here in Los Angeles, they (G-Wagen's) are everywhere, and he wanted to make his unique. He reached out to us at ICON 4x4 and asked if we would be interested in restyling it for him. It seemed like a fun and different project for us, so we agreed to have at it. Fortunately, it turned out to be quite a fun project. Once we were able to get a closer inspection, we realized there were tons of opportunities to refine this ride! Mechanically, we chose not to mess with it, as the stock performance was fine for the customers needs. Instead we focused our efforts on the cosmetic surfaces, lighting and audio system.
First, we stripped, and tore it down for a repaint in the matte silver from a Mercedes 300SL. The matte finishes are not offered by MB, and we have a lot of experience with them. After we began to tear it down, we were surprised how cheesy a good portion of the exterior trim pices were. A lot of it was the quality you would expect from a vehicle made in the 1980's; side trim, vents, a plastic washer insert panel on the hood, side marker lights, the Mercedes-Benz insert for the spare tire, etc.. it all had room for improvement. Did you know that the side marker lights are the same part used on the Volkswagen Westfalia vans in the early 90's? Yuck. Also, the inside door lock knobs were plastic and lame, so we machined them in stainless with a cool knurled detail on the crown. We scanned all of those cheesy parts, and started building the CAD files so that we could redesign them and craft them in aluminum and stainless with a CNC machine. We did a few samples as "grown parts" with SLA technology. Once we were all happy with the designs, we cut the final parts, then had them powder coated in the ICON Volcanic black surface coating.
These trucks are so electronics intensive, that even if you change the weight of the wheel and tire combo, it will want to brake the inside rear wheel on high speed turns! So with that in mind, we chose to simply modify the color of the stock wheels instead of replacing them.
The stock chrome grill guard is a bit 1980's too, so we deleted it and powdercoated the bottom tube bar. After that we decided the factory running boards could be improved. So we removed the rubber and stainless overlay and built our own unit to fit the factory structural parts, powder coated it, and inset silicone rubbers for grip and style. The spare tire carrier came out nice and clean. It came from the factory chrome with a painted hub and another plastic stick-on emblem. It looks much nicer now matching the rest of the vehicle with a matte finish and metal inserts.
We decided to do a ghost tint to all of the factory lights except the headlights. We added in LED daytime lights, a monster Vision-X LED light bar, rack mounted reverse LED spot lights, and redesigned the side marker lights with guards. By this time, the truck was back from paint, and we reassembled it with these trim goodies.
After things started progressing and turning out well, the client got excited, and asked what else we thought could or should be done. We were not exactly big fans of the door panels which looked like they gathered the leather from a 1980's Holiday Inn, and we are kind of over the wood dash & door veneers. So we tore down the dash and hand wrapped the wheel, shifter and grab handle in matched German leather. To get rid of the wood properly, we then etched and repainted all of the wood dash and door surfaces to match the exterior matte silver, it turned out much nicer. Often times we use the Rosen visors as found in Learjets, so we had a custom set made for the truck. We also replaced the door panel inserts with Chilewich woven vinyl, made a custom set of matching floor mats, and integrated the switches for the added lights so that they would appear stock.
Next it was time for the audio system. We added multiple amplifiers, a programable equilizer, bass, and improved the stock speakers. Everything runs through the stock head unit for a factory look. We also added one of our trick fire extinguishers and installed a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot! For the audio gear, we created a false floor enclosure in the cargo area. We wrapped and stiched it in factory leather with white double stitching to match the rest of the OE trim, and then built two layers of Dynamat enhanced mats. Stealth!
Thanks for viewing!
Editors Note: This article was originally written by Jonathan Ward for his CarDomain page - we contacted him, and he was nice enough to allow Expedition Portal to re-use it, and even send us some exclusive images. Thanks Jonathan!
If you're looking for the best in high-end 4x4 restoration and modification, or want to learn more about Jonathans' other creations such as the ICON FJ40, Bronco, or the CJ3B - be sure to check out Icon 4x4. [link]