British magazine Auto Express reports the project started as the brain child of Jurgen Eberle, an engineer in vehicle development for the E-Class. He liked the E-Class All-Terrain, which is Mercedes’ first-ever wagon on stilts, but he thought it was a little bit too tame. He wanted to build a long-roof that could truly conquer any terrain on the planet.
At first, the project was supposed to be quick and easy. Eberle planned to merely add about an inch and a half of ground clearance to the station wagon in order to help it clear obstacles routinely encountered on the trail without hitting the hard part of the ground. Then, his creativity got the best of him.
He set out to install the portal axles from the G-Class 4×4-2 in the unassuming body of the E-Class All-Terrain, a job that requires making extensive modifications to the body. He enlisted the help of fellow engineers, and asked Mercedes to fund part of the project. Company officials decided the idea was on the awesome side of crazy, and they gladly agreed to help out.
The finished product is unlike any wagon we’ve ever seen. The portal axles help triple the All-Terrain’s ground clearance to 15 inches, and give it a much wider track that required fitting purpose-designed carbon fiber fender flares on all four corners. Mercedes’ electronically-controlled 4Matic all-wheel drive system augments its off-road prowess to a level usually out of reach for mere station wagons. However, it’s not equipped with a low-range gearbox.
So, what’s next? Right now, the E-Class All-Terrain is a one-of-a-kind prototype. However, Auto Express reports members of Mercedes’ top brass were so impressed with Eberle’s creation that they’re considering turning it into a limited-edition model. It’s built with off-the-shelf parts so such a project would be relatively straightforward.
The E-Class All-Terrain 4×4-2 could debut as early as next year. Production would be strictly limited, and each one would come with a six-digit price tag. Still, it’s certain to sell out almost immediately — just look at the thing.