It’s a 900-horsepower twin-turbo tube-frame dune buggy, based on the running gear of a Mercedes-Benz G-Class. What’s not to love?
On our desks this morning, we found two Mercedes-Benz G-Class-based customs. One was the (hideous) coupe with a G-Class nose from will.i.am. The other was the 900-horsepower twin-turbo G-Class side-by-side from Brabus.
It’s called the Brabus 900 Crawler, and it might be the most extravagant vehicle we’ve ever seen.
Brabus Crawler: Custom-Built Bonkers Buggy
The Brabus Crawler is loosely, and we mean very loosely, based on the Mercedes-AMG G 63. What does it carry over from the boxy Merc? The hood, grille, and some interior parts, plus the 4×4 parts that let the Crawler crawl.
It uses a unique tubular chassis. This is the first time that Brabus, a legendary Mercedes tuner, has built a chassis of its own.
With styling vaguely like the G-Class, this is a bespoke carbon body with four seats— and an exposed weave, so you know it’s fancy. At least until the desert sand takes the clear coat off and it starts to look a little fuzzy.
With no doors and windows, Brabus has taken the four-seat dune buggy or sand rail and turned it into something that makes even the most aggressive of the genre look like a child’s toy.
900-horsepower V8 Usually Powers 200 mph Supercars
The engine is the Brabus Rocket 900. The 4.5L twin-turbo V8 is from the Mercedes-AMG 4.0L engine, but Brabus has bored it, fitted it with a new crankshaft, and crammed in new turbochargers with larger compressors to build more boost.
Output from the Rocket 900 engine is 900 horsepower and 774 pound-feet of torque. Brabus built an engine that could make 922 pound-feet but then electronically limited it to the lower figure. So that’s the figure we care about. Brabus crammed the motor into a handful of 900 Rocket Edition vehicles, including the GLE Coupe, G-Wagon, and even the Maybach S-Class.
In the cabin, you’ll find four shell-style seats and little else. They’re made exclusively for the Crawler and are carbon fiber. Designed to be supportive, they’re not high on padding for those off-road drives.
Brabus has reached out to its Marine range for the upholstery. It makes the quilted red seat covers from Silvertex, and Brabus Marine uses the fabric in its powerboats, so it should be able to handle being left out in the elements. We’d say it could take getting muddy, but is anyone going to get this $800,000 rig messy? It’s not supposed to fade in the desert sun, either.
Tech & Communications in the Brabus Crawler
A GPS navigation system from Lowrance has topographical maps and satellite imagery. It allows point-to-point navigation, and Brabus can help you develop custom maps to ensure you don’t ever get lost.
The Crawler has an integrated comms system with four headsets because 900 horses blasting through the desert is anything but serene. An offshore VHF intercom connected to the system lets you have long-range comms.
Under the Crawler are portal axles. The arrangement offsets the axle shaft from the shaft that turns the wheel for more ground clearance. They’re on the standard G-Class, but these are Brabus-specific parts. It has a nine-speed automatic and permanent 4×4 system with electronically controlled locks on all three differentials for maximum traction.
Brabus has developed new aluminum struts for the Crawler. They get fully adjustable shocks and have 20.8 inches of suspension travel. Its Maxxis Razr MT off-road tires are 40 inches tall. The side effect of those big tires and their 20-inch wheels? The Crawler gets a 99mph speed limiter.
It can do 0-60 in 3.4 seconds, and it can outshine anything else at the dunes. What it can’t do is drive on the road; this thing isn’t close to being street legal. On the other hand, if you’re one of the 15 owners (all Brabus is building), you’re probably in a position to have those rules changed.