Quick, who’s your favorite German comedian? There are just so many to choose from, but right now ours has to be Mercedes-Benz. That’s because at the Chicago Auto Show, the brand evolved from its understated “replace your engine with the biggest powerplant it can find” prank to transforming a Sprinter delivery van into an off-road ready dump truck, and topping it all off it with ’90s touches – the ’90s are very hot right now – like an antifreeze green paint job and enough kit to make it look like an extra in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The resulting Sprinter Extreme works on levels; it’s the hippest, most ironic concept to come from any major automaker since the Bentley EXP 9 F. Seriously, somebody give these guys a Netflix special.
Chances are, if you leave your house today, you’ll see a Sprinter van. You probably won’t see another one like this though; Mercedes has built the Extreme to show off the Sprinter’s (and maybe, by extension, Mercedes’s) id run wild. But there is an element of truth to it. “The Sprinter Cab Chassis is the most capable heavy-duty vehicle in its segment,” says Bernie Glazer, Mercedes-Benz U.S.’s vice president of vans. “Unlike most concepts, the foundation for the Sprinter Extreme can be ordered at a Mercedes or Freightliner dealership today with the help of our MasterUpfitter program.”
The Extreme started with the heavy-duty Sprinter 3500 cab chassis, with the same 2.1 liter BlueTec four cylinder diesel pumping out 161 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque and mated to the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission that you’d find under the hood of your standard run of the mill Sprinter delivery. Still, in that configuration, the dump truck could still carry a 6,400 pound payload and tow up to 7,500 pounds.
And despite the company’s official “you can do it too” attitude about the Extreme, it isn’t likely that most customers ordering a Mercedes dump truck would turn around and sent it to RENNtech, one of the most outrageous Mercedes tuners in the world.
In the hands of RENNtech – a company better known for coaxing 600-plus horsepower out of mortal Mercedes models – the Sprinter truly became Extreme. Six massive forward-facing off-roading lights were mounted to a custom roof rack, giving the Extreme a real Paris-to-Dakar look. A brush guard, winch, and additional fog lights were added to the truck’s front end, a lift kit was installed, and beadlock wheels “inspired by the G-Wagen” round out the cab appearance package. Oh, and it got that green wrap that makes it look like it took a wrong turn through the Hi-Liter factory there too.
But the real news is out back, where the Benz gets a unique Scattolini ScattoMaax dump bed. Made from steel and alloys, the bed can dump up to 5,200 pounds of payload both backwards and sideways. Mercedes says:
The unique ScattoMaax cargo bed design provides an extra barrier of protection between the passenger compartment and the payload, ensuring safety and ease-of-mind, even over rough terrain. The end result of this upfit solution: an incredibly versatile, hard-working commercial vehicle with a payload capacity greater than nearly all half-ton trucks currently on the market.
While this design is unique to the Extreme, similar beds are available to customers through Mercedes’s MasterUpfitter program. After that, it’s up to you to get your Sprinter down to RENNtech in Florida and foot the bill.
We’ve long expected to see something classically Mercedes at every major auto show, like tastefully redone new models like the 2017 E-Class, or outré technological showcases like the IAA from last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. But the Sprinter Extreme is neither of those things. Yes, it has the Mercedes attention to detail, and it looks to be capable and well-built, but it’s also completely different from its other concepts because, in a word, it’s fun. We’d expect the Big Three to have this much fun with a truck concept, but it’s almost more enjoyable to see the characteristically staid Germans getting loose and building a big, lurid Tonka truck for adults. Plus, when was the last time a dump truck made you think? Mercedes has always been a heavy hitter for drama, but the Sprinter Extreme proves it has enough range to convincingly do comedy too.
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