Did you know that a G-Wagon won the Dakar Rally in the 80’s?

40 years ago, racing driver Jacky Ickx and his co-driver, actor Claude Brasseur, won the 1983 Paris-Dakar Rally (toughest rally in the world) with the Mercedes-Benz 280 GE. The project was led by Mercedes Benz France and engineers from the company from Germany helped with the engine and aerodynamics of the car.

The race took place in the early morning of January 1, 1983 on the Place De La Concorde in Paris. After around 20 extreme daily stages through deserts such as Tenere in the south of the Sahara and in the north of the Niger, the participants reached the city of Dakar on the Atlantic coast. The participants in the car, motorcycle and truck categories also covered between 10,000 and 12,000 kilometers to reach the finish line.

The Paris-Dakar Rally has attracted automakers to compete in the African desert since its early days. The adventure was founded and organized by former auto and motorcycle racer Thierry Sabine, who died in a helicopter crash in January 1986. The event continues to this day, its name changed to Dakar Rally and is currently taking place in the desert regions of Saudi Arabia. The Dakar Rally was previously held in South America from 2009 to 2019.

The Mercedes Benz 280 GE is powered by a two-cam, six-cylinder M 110 engine. The standard version of the M 110 engine delivers an output of 185 hp, but the “Paris-Dakar” engine has been upgraded to an output of 197 hp and upgraded to a top speed of 175 km/h, 25 km/h faster than the standard variant.

Among the top ten cars to cross the Paris-Dakar finish line were two more 280 GEs and a prototype from Mercedes Benz. During the competition, many participants dropped out due to technical problems, accidents, bruises or sheer exhaustion. Only 61 cars and trucks and 28 motorcycles crossed the finish line. Other Mercedes-Benz G models took fifth, sixth and eighth place, and the brand also celebrated a double victory with a Mercedes-Benz 1936 AK all-wheel-drive truck (355 hp) as the best truck.