The "Millennium Mercedes":
A Car on a Mission

A unique off-roadster takes on the world's potholes

The Millennium Mercedes is a one-of-a-kind vehicle developed and built for Jim Rogers and Paige Parker for a historic, three-year journey around the world, which began Jan. 1, 1999 and ended Jan. 5, 2002. This first true All Activity Vehicle combines the comfort and styling attributes of the Mercedes-Benz SLK 230 sports car with the sturdy durability of the legendary Mercedes-Benz G-Series wagon. It helped Paige and Jim set a Guinness World Record.

The couple's dream of traveling in a luxurious, sporty convertible that also provided the ultimate in safety and ruggedness was realized by California-based Gerhard Steinle and his team at Prisma Design International. Steinle is the former President of Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America who founded his own design studio in 1997. Rogers developed the concept of merging a sports car body with the chassis and diesel engine of the G-series, four-wheel-drive, sport utility wagon, also known as Der Gelaendewagen.

The two cars needed for the operation, together with a second long-wheelbase G-wagon which joined the adventure as a support vehicle were donated by Mercedes-Benz of North America in a tribute to the unprecedented success of the Three-Pointed Star in the US market at the turn of the millennium.

It took three months to create an automobile worthy its "Millennium" nametag. The team not only had to link the mechanical components, but also deal with the much greater challenge of connecting the vastly different computer and electronic systems.

The "Millennium" is powered by the proven, reliable 177 hp 3-litre G-Series Turbodiesel six-cylinder engine and comes with a five-speed automatic transmission and a four-wheel-drive powertrain. For road clearance, the Sunburst Yellow body rides a full foot higher than the stock SLK. Specially designed full fender flaring and a step-up rocker system visually blend the hybrid's two characters giving it a unique identity. Prisma designed a matching trailer since extra storage capacity is needed for a trip like this. Metalcrafters manufactured the trailer.

Bridgestone supplied 265/60R-18 Dueler tires that come on original Mercedes G500 18X7.5 alloy wheels.

The integration of a brand new Iridium satellite communications system with the car phones provided by Motorola helped keep the couple in contact with the world. The Iridium system allows unlimited access to 66 satellites around the world at any time of day.

Alpine supplied a navigation system and its disks for nine countries in Europe.

Prisma designed a matching trailer for extra storage capacity. The special two-wheeled utility trailer echoes the lines of the original SLK and probably is probably the most charming accessory of this challenging undertaking.

 
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
 
Engine: Six-cylinder 3.0-liter turbodiesel, four valves per cylinder, 22:1 compression ratio
 
Power: 177 hp @ 4,400 rpm
 
Torque: 330 Newton/Meters or 244 lb.-ft. @ 3,600 rpm
 
Transmission: Mercedes-Benz five-speed automatic
 
Drive System: Full-time, four-wheel drive, three differential locks from Mercedes-Benz G-Series
 
Chassis: Mercedes-Benz G300 Short Wheelbase (160 inches) (4 meters)
 
Ride Height: Approx. one full foot taller (30 cm) than stock ride height of standard SLK
 
Fuel Capacity: 146 liters (38.5 gallons)
 
Fuel Range: 1,000 kilometers / 620 miles
 
Wheels: Mercedes-Benz aluminum alloy, G500 V8-7.5 inches wide/18 inches tall
 
Tires: Bridgestone Dueler HP0680 P265/60R-18
 
Body: Steel-framed body constructed of composite fiberglass.
 
SLK Sunburst Yellow paint scheme including fender flares enlarged around wheelwell openings.
 
Newly designed rocker panels with integrated step, front and rear bumper skirts.
 
Interior: Black leather
 
Communication: Short-wave radio and walkie-talkies
 
Trailer Facts: Custom made, two-wheel trailer sits on leaf springs and utilizes electric brakes and the same 18-inch tall wheels used on the lead vehicle. It houses a spare tire, drinking water, medical supplies and a spare fuel can. The rear compartment holds luggage.