Staff Car / Heavy Personnel Car
Despite its six road wheels, the G4 actually lacked full 6x6 operation.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Despite its use as a general staff car as well as centerpiece in many of Hitler's propaganda-driven military parades, the Daimler-Benz G4 vehicle was formally classified as a "heavy personnel car". Hitler himself found favor in the large G4 series as the car provided for a most imposing presentation with its long running length and rugged six-wheeled arrangement. While intended for cross-country operations, the G4 actually lacked all-wheel drive to its six wheels with only the rear axles (with two self-locking differentials) linked as such and the front axles being left out of the equation. As such, the G4 generally suffered in cross-country driving, particularly in off-road actions where the vehicle's immense weight and unwieldy dimensions worked solidly against the driver. Regardless, Hitler was keen on its utilization when touring "post-battle" battlefields or when reaching hard-pressed troop areas for morale visits. When not in use, these special government G4s were stored in the various castles under ownership by the Fuhrer.
Production of the G4 began in 1934 by the German firm of Daimler-Benz and lasted through 1939. The vehicle was delivered in two distinct finishes for their intended presentation roles - the first was of ceremonial showpiece and the second was of high-ranking personnel transport. The former was delivered with a glossy light gray finish complimented by a black fender and matching black running boards. The latter was delivered with a matte gray military finish as standard. Both versions featured a collapsible, soft-topped covering to protect occupants from the elements as well as solid glass windows. The cover conveniently collapsed in a setting at the rear upper edges of the vehicle frame. A hard-topped version of the vehicle was also produced and made up both a "Radio Car" communications vehicle and "Luggage Vehicle" for Hitler's private entourage when traveling. Some versions lacked the rear passenger side windows as well.
The layout of the G4 was highly conventional despite its unorthodox appearance. The engine was set within a front-mounted compartment and attached to a four-speed manual transmission system driving the rear wheels. The driver was positioned at the front-left and managed steering via a large-radius conventional steering wheel component. Two seats were held forward each with automotive-style doors hinged to open towards the rear for easy entry/exit. The rear occupants were given two sets of seats with one set of doors, these hinged at their forward edge to open in a traditional forward-swinging manner. Running boards lined either side of the vehicle underneath the doors and contoured elegantly against the forward and rear wheel fenders. Power was derived from a Daimler-Benz M24 OR M24 II series air-cooled, 8-cylinder, in-line engine of either 5.0 or 5.4 liter capacity developing up to 110 horsepower at 3,400rpm. Road speed was rated at approximately 42 miles per hour while operating weight was in the vicinity of 3,700 kilograms (8,154lbs). Rounded headlamps at the front of the vehicle assisted in night time driving and were set to either side of the engine grill panel, inside of the forward wheel fenders. Chrome was used throughout the vehicle's design for detailing purposes. Spare wheels were affixed to mounts on either side of the vehicle frame, just ahead of either front door.
Once it became common knowledge that the Fuhrer himself favored the G4 as his own personal staff car, subordinates were quick to follow suit and requested the G4 for their own touring endeavors as a showman's statement to "lesser" personnel. However, less than 150 G4s were ever produced which made them extremely rare finds, with production totals ranging wildly between 57 and 131 examples based on various sources. It is reported that only one example of the Luggage Car and one example of the Radio Car were ever produced by Daimler-Benz. Needless to say, their appearance today in military collections is quite a find in any respect.
Some G4s, particularly those vehicles charged as escorts in transporting high-ranking VIPs, could be outfitted with one or two 7.92mm general purpose machine guns for self-defense. These could be either the early-war MG34 series or the later MG42 model of belt-fed machine gun and mounted on high-standing "stalk" pintles. The forward-mounted pintle was set just behind the front seats while the aft pintle mounting was set behind the rear-most set of seats. When used in combination, this essentially allowed for a 360-degree field of fire though without much protection to the gunnery crew.