Production Year: 1991
Puch is a manufacturing company located in Graz, Austria. The company was founded in 1899 by the industrialist Johann Puch and produced automobiles, bicycles, mopeds, and motorcycles. It was a subsidiary of the large Steyr-Daimler-Puch conglomerate.
The development of the G-Class started in 1972 with a cooperative agreement between Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, Austria. Mercedes-Benz engineers in Stuttgart were in charge of design and testing, while the team in Graz developed the production plans. The first wooden model was presented to Daimler-Benz management in 1973, with the first drivable prototype beginning various testing including German coalfields, the Sahara Desert, and the Arctic Circle in 1974. Construction commenced on a new production facility in Graz, where the new cross-country vehicle would be assembled nearly entirely by hand in 1975, with production of the "G Model" beginning in Graz in 1979.
The G-class was developed as a military vehicle from a suggestion by the Shah of Iran (at the time a significant Mercedes shareholder) to Mercedes and was offered as a civilian version in 1979. In this role vehicle was sometimes referred to as the "Wolf". The Peugeot P4 was a variant made under licence in France with a Peugeot engine. The first military in the world to use it was the Argentine Army (Ejército Argentino) beginning in 1981 with the military model 461.
An agreement between Daimler-Benz AG and Steyr-Daimler-Puch stipulated that G-Wagens sold in Austria, Switzerland, Yugoslavia (and its successor states: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia), Mongolia, and Eastern European COMECON countries were called Puch G and elsewhere as Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen/G-Class. The reason for the different branding was due to Puch's reputation for its all-terrain vehicles, the Haflinger and Pinzgauer. Since the agreement expired in 2000, consumers could order a retrofit kit from Magna's Puch Competence Centre to replace the Mercedes-Benz brands with Puch emblems.
After the new W463 was introduced in 1989 with an extensively updated chassis and a revised front end, the production of the W460 ended in 1991 and was replaced by the W461. The W461 has essentially the same chassis as the W460 but with the powertrain of the W463 and the body of the W460. While the W463 is aimed at consumers who seek more creature comforts and better driving dynamics, the W461 is built specifically for military, public authorities, and non-governmental organisations. That included the 24-Volt electrical system for the W461. The W461 for military, public authorities, and non-governmental organisations is too extensive and wide-ranging to list here.
During the 1990s, the W461 was offered with a 2.3-litre four inline petrol engine.
The Swiss Armed Forces uses the 230 with soft top as the primary general purpose carrier. All versions in Swiss Army use are unarmed.