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Virgil Abloh creates bizarre race-inspired G-Wagen with Mercedes head designer

By Chris Thompson, 10 Sep 2020 News

Virgil Abloh Mercedes Project Gelandewagen

‘New luxury’ meets race car in a vehicle that’s not really either

If you’re interested in men’s fashion, or even if you’re acutely aware of the social circles of particular rap artists, you know who Virgil Abloh is.

If you don’t, you’re probably wondering why he’s so interested in creating a modified Mercedes-Benz G wagon, which came about via collaboration with Mercedes’ chief designer Gorden Wagener.

The creative director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear sector worked with Wagener to design this, Project Gelandewagen.

Touted as a blend of ‘new luxury’ and racing elements, the car probably won’t make a lick of sense to anyone unfamiliar with Abloh’s MO.

It features an interior completely stripped and splashed with colours that most would consider clashing, while the whited-out motif is present everywhere else. Seats come from a Merc DTM car, while the steering wheel is modelled on that of the Project One hypercar.

Virgil Abloh Mercedes Project Gelandewagen wheels

A big red button in the centre console is the ignition, while there are no windows save the windscreen, and the instruments are all analogue as a ‘nod to classic cars.’

It’s designed to look like a race car but lacks some of the functionality required to really be one.

How about a G Wagon that has more than 700kW?

“The initial idea was to question, to make this sort of twist on reality and speed to have this car that is luxurious in a deconstructed way,” Abloh explains upon the reveal of the Gelandewagen.

From the outside, its clear Abloh was serious about questioning. Massive Mercedes monoblock wheels are wrapped in chunky rubber, with yellow race-style sidewall lettering heralding the vehicle’s name.

It’s also been painted to look unfinished, kind of like someone’s stripped the paint back on a Matchbox car.

“The idea of the paint is unique in so that it runs away from the idea of perfection. The finish is typically like the underlining of a car. The idea here is to embrace the human touch.”

Abloh says he also wants to inspire younger designers and creatives to question traditions, which we can’t argue this wagon does. For example, we’re questioning why there’s red tape on the air vents.

Virgil Abloh Mercedes Project Gelandewagen vent

“My ultimate goal in this project with Mercedes-Benz is inspiring young artists, engineers, designers to question the status quo, in addition to experimenting with my own design abilities,” Abloh says.

“For me it’s all about providing opportunities for those coming after me and giving this next generation a foundation for success, both here with Mercedes-Benz and through my own Virgil Abloh "Post-Modern" Scholarship Fund.“

Abloh’s career has had ups, many in fact, and a down here and there. Most notably of the latter is his recent album art for a posthumous release by Pop Smoke. His artwork was widely mocked online and replaced with work by another artist for the album release.

But in the world of fashion, Abloh’s creativity has received acclaim for breaking traditions and challenging the norm.

Virgil Abloh Mercedes Project Gelandewagen steering

Does his technique work when it comes to the world of car design? Gorden Wagener thinks so.

Mercedes’ chief designer says the creation “perfectly encapsulates Mercedes-Benz’s manifestation of contemporary luxury.”

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“With Project Geländewagen we create a unique artwork that showcases future interpretations of luxury and the desire for beauty and the extraordinary. The result is something between reality and future”, says Wagener. 

“The collaboration with Virgil has seen two distinct design philosophies unite, for a one-of-a-kind re-imagination of the G that continues to celebrate the extraordinary at its core.”

Virgil Abloh Mercedes Project Gelandewagen

“To me this is a very progressive step towards the future of luxury.”

We hope for the market’s sake Mercedes’ next S-Class doesn’t come with DTM seats and a Project One steering wheel.

A 1:3 model of Project Gelandewagen will be auctioned by Sotheby’s online in three weeks, with estimated pricing between US$60,000-80,000.

Let us know below what you think of Abloh’s Gelandewagen creation.