This Radio-Racer Mercedes Jeep is a radio controlled Mercedes G-Wagen, manufactured by Taiyo in Japan, it was released into the Japanese and European markets in 1980.
Although it was labelled as the Mercedes Jeep on the box, the actual product it represented was the real-life Mercedes-Benz G-Class, perhaps the 280GE model (photo below), which is affectionately known in popular culture as the G-Wagen (“Geländewagen” meaning “cross-country vehicle” in German) which was first sold in 1979.
The G-Class was initially developed as a military vehicle due to a suggestion by the Shah of Iran (then a significant Mercedes shareholder) and was later offered in a civilian model. The real-life model continues today in a modernized form, and has since become a symbol of both robustness and luxury.
Thank you to reader Vasilis who sent in these photos of the Mercedes Jeep and helped the site grow closer to completion of all models 🙂
Features and Performance
As a radio controlled car manufactured in 1980 when radio controlled toy technology was still in its infancy, the features and performance of the G-Wagen are simple, and would feel clunky to anyone today, mostly due to its slower pace and early 80s style gear train.
Update: I’ve been informed by Vasilis that his Mercedes Jeep has active steering, not passive as I’d assumed due to the year of manufacture. Incredible! This means that the steering works even while stopped, unlike passive steering which requires forward/backward movement for it to work, as were most 80s Taiyo models.
The model itself however was detailed and relatively accurate, with the German variant having additional accessories on its roof-rack (see 1980 Dickie Mercedes Gelandewagen).
Collectability and Availability
Going on 43 years old now, there aren’t too many of these around anymore, either the Taiyo version or the German / Dickie version, and with the ongoing popularity of the Mercedes G-Wagen as a collectors car, there’s no doubt that the few remain are sitting on collector shelves worldwide.
Certainly if you’re a fan of the vehicle, then you won’t find a more period-accurate radio controlled model of the original G-Wagen, released around the same time as the actual car itself.