Tesla-Swapped Mercedes G-Class Convertible Goes for First Drive

By the end of the year, Mercedes-Benz is scheduled to start production of the EQG, the electric version of the G-Class. However, some owners of the ICE model have decided to take the matter into their own hands. And a recent example comes from this Tesla-swapped Mercedes G-Class Convertible.

Given how many classic vehicles are about the spirit of their era rather than a certain type of performance, converting them to run on electricity may or may not come with too much pressure. However, with the iconic G-Class, there’s a status to maintain, which is why this project features high-tier components.

The starting point for the build is a 1985 280GE Cabrio. The off-roader has been given a complete makeover by the Canadian wizards at Trickfactory Customs and is now dubbed G-Volt.

The main ingredient is a Tesla Model S Performance Drive Unit that’s been rebuilt by Revolt Systems, with the motor rated up to 450 kW (604 hp).

Revolt also adapts the motor to work in a longitudinal setup and it’s worth noting that Trickfactory maintained the factory driveline. With this being a W460-series G-Class, we’re looking at mechanically locking front and rear diffs, but not lockable center diff, as with other models. Instead, when the 4WD mode is engaged, the power is always split 50:50 between the axles.

The trunk now accommodates a host of Tesla batteries, while some extra batteries are meant to go in the front half of the vehicle—it’s not clear if the latter had been installed last November when the vehicle made its debut at SEMA. Hey, it feels like the Canadian builders can’t complete their Lamborghini Urus-bodied Chevrolet Tahoe soon enough!

The suspension, which is comprised of double coilovers at each corner, features new mounting points—there are heavy-duty shocks However, despite the Canadian builder mentioning G-Class 4×4-like suspension, there are no portal axles here, even though we’re sure the Tesla-swapped Mercedes G-Class Cabriolet will handle rough terrain perfectly once it gets fully dialed in as far as the driveline is concerned.

Then there’s the old G-Class’ recirculating ball steering, which now works with a JK Jeep Wrangler steering damper. The damper was installed to prevent any high-speed wobble, a phenomenon that can be amplified with the larger wheels and tires fitted to the vehicle—the G-Wagon now rides on 35×13.5 R20 Toyo Open Country tires. Then again, the steering damper also helps when you’re offroading and hit an obstacle, as it reduces the risk of the steering wheel moving violently in your hands.

The G-Class Cabriolet was never light. And adding the electric hardware means a brake upgrade had to make its way onto the list, which is why we find Promax stopping hardware on this off-roader.

The interior of the Tesla-swapped Mercedes G-Class Cabriolet feels like the 2020s

Having covered the modifications that add to the “G-Class” part of the name, let’s see what the team had done for the bits that go well with the “Cabriolet” side.

The roof seems to be working perfectly, so the crew could focus on updating the interior. Thus, the Tesla-swapped G-Class Cabriolet received Mercedes-AMG CLA45 seats, which were refurbished along with the rest of the cabin. Plus, the dual touchscreens ensure this feels like a modern G-Wagon on the inside.

The custom G-Wagons of The G-Collector (@mercedesgwagen)

Now, before anybody appeals to their traditionalist side and defends the ICE setup that used to animate this Mercedes, you should know the owner is a G-Class collector, with internal combustion power reigning supreme in his garage.

Using the Instagram handle mercedesgwagen (aka the G-Collector), the enthusiast tells us he’s Canadian and lists no less than seven other G-Wagons, ranging from a 1992 230GE military model to a 2021 G63 AMG. Some of these are also modded—for instance, at the time of press, his 2004 G500 SWB was in the process of getting some massive G500 4×4-esque fender flares to go with a set of 37-inch tires.

You can check out the first drive of the Tesla-swapped Mercedes-Benz G-Class Convertible in the clip below, with this having been recorded back in the fall—we’re looking forward to seeing the beast in action again once it reaches its final form. Meanwhile, if the Mercedes sedan in the image gallery sent your eyes towards the sky, you should know we included Trickfactory Customs’ Mercedes-Benz 190E when making the best-of-Instagram list back in May.

First drive recorded after SEMA 2023 back in November (9:40 timestamp)



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