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The ultimate self-isolation vehicle?

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Neil Briscoe

Words: Neil Briscoe - @neilmbriscoe

Published on: May 1, 2020

Words: Neil Briscoe - @neilmbriscoe

Published on: May 1, 2020

Ex-Swiss army 4x4 converted to a luxury camper.

It may be a touch flippant, but there is something incredibly tempting about imagining a vehicle so perfectly equipped for packing up, heading for the hills, and hiding out until this is all over. It just so happens that there is such a vehicle, and it's made by Swiss classic car experts Lorinser.

Made from an ex-Swiss army G-Wagen

Lorinser normally trades in classic Mercedes-Benz models, but its proximity to the Swiss Army means that it often also gets a stock in of ex-army Puch G vehicles. To those who don't have a clue what a Puch G is, you actually probably do - it's the original Mercedes G-Wagen.

The G-Wagen has always been made not in Stuttgart, but in Austria by the Steyr-Puch company, and it was originally designed as a military vehicle. The Swiss Army still uses them, and still flogs off a few unwanted ones now and then, and this is where Lorinser comes in.

"The demand for these cars was and remains enormous," Marcus Lorinser, managing director of his eponymous company tells us. Lorinser had the idea of taking an ex-army G, one with its distinctive high-topped rear bodywork, and converting it into a truly go-anywhere camper van. In doing so, he may just have accidentally created the ultimate virus-escape vehicle.

Only 88,000km on the demo model

"We painted the body in a matt, green-gray colour, blasted the underbody with dry ice and preserved it, refurbished the seats and worked on many other features. The engine with a mileage of only 88,000 km was already in very good condition" said Lorinser.

The distinctive map graphic on the hardtop was created in homage to historical maps of the area where Lorinser is based. "The impressive design of the superstructure goes back to maps from cartographer Petrus Bertius from the 17th century. That was the time when the era of traveling began for the well-heeled classes - and many routes still seemed very adventurous. Today, however, we often have to leave the well-trodden paths to find true adventure. Lorinser Classic built this G for exactly this purpose" said Lorinser.

Mechanically, the camper is based on a Puch 230GE with a 116hp four-cylinder diesel engine and a four-speed automatic gearbox. It has four-wheel drive, of course, with high-and-low ratio gears for maximum off-road traction and control. To that mechanical spec, Lorinser has added a towbar, LED headlights and wheel spacers. It also added all-terrain tyres from BF Goodrich on DOTZ 4x4 'Dakar Dark' steel rims.

Luxurious living quarters


Of course, the interesting stuff is around the back. Under that high-top hard-top is luxurious living quarters. It has its own central heating system, 220v domestic sockets, a microwave, a sink (with its own water tank), a kitchen area, a folding table, and a foldaway double bed. There's a pull-out awning for alfresco dining, and a plug-in exterior shower. Electric power comes from the car's battery system, but that is kept topped-up by the solar panels mounted to the roof. There's no on-board toilet, but then again the G's off-roading ability is such that you'll be able to get so far into the woods that it'll be just you and the bears...

The good news is that it's not even overly expensive. The basic Puch G vehicles can be bought for as little as €15,000 from Lorinser, and the camper conversion - this one, anyway - costs €69,000 complete.

The bad news? It's in Switzerland, so you won't be able to pick one up until after the lockdown has passed. Which kind of defeats the idea, really. Ah well, it's nice to dream...