RUX Rides is back. This week we caught up with Jacob Lagercrantz here in RUXs backyard of Squamish, BC.
Jacob is a dad, outdoor recreationalist, mountain biker, backcountry skier, hiker and search and rescue member. He’s happiest spending time in the outdoors with his family, preferably in some remote place.
Jacob, describe your vehicle make, model and backstory:
I have a 1980 Mercedes Geländewagen (which means cross country vehicle) or GWagon as people call them here. It was originally used by the electric utility company in Germany in remote areas (and it was painted orange!).
What does it get used for and what’s in the plans?
Right now, I primarily use it to respond to Search and Rescue tasks and it holds all of the rescue gear I need for that.
So far it doesn’t get as much off road travel use as I’d like but in the future I hope to make longer trips into remote areas with it. Turn it into an overland vehicle if you will.
What was the rebuild process? You spent some time on that!
I found this vehicle rusting away in someone’s backyard, not running and in overall pretty poor shape, so it has been several hundreds of hours of restoration over a few years. Lots of replacing rusted metal, replacing worn out parts and finally painting it. I don’t think there’s really any component of this vehicle that I haven’t had apart to either replace, repair or clean.
It oddly looks fairly shiny, but was covered in leave, rusted and not running.
I have recently also swapped the engine in it to a Mercedes diesel engine for better fuel economy and reliability. Of course there have been a lot of “upgrades” too, such as a winch, large mud tires and snorkel. If I’m being honest, a lot of them have just been because they look cool but I’ve always made sure they are also functional (yes, the snorkel actually does work.)
Why did you commit to such a huge project? and why that vehicle?
Well, as I’m sure many people are familiar with, the project tends to end up a lot bigger than you first intended. My initial goal was to just get the vehicle running and fix the rust and just use it like that. Of course, once I had done that and put a lot of effort into it, it didn’t feel right to not address other parts of it as well. So it kind of just snowballed after that.
As for why this vehicle, it’s one of the most capable off road vehicles in stock form so I thought it would serve as a good platform to start with and it’s kind of different from what you see around here which I liked. I know that most people think of GWagons today as more of a city vehicle for rich people but they were originally designed for military and utility use.
Jacob's custom interior ski rack and gear closet.
Any advice for someone thinking of rebuilding a similar vehicle?
A big challenge has been the fact that this vehicle was never sold in North America so finding parts is both hard and expensive and often have to come from Europe.
Make sure there is at least a good support network of online resources where you can get help if you need to.