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Gunther Holtorf's G-Wagen

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Picture of the car parked in front of the Bank Islam at Centerpoint, Miri, in mid-2007.

In 2007, walking past Bank Islam I saw an extraordinary car with foreign registration plates. Finding it very odd, I snapped a picture and went on my way because I was in a hurry. As it turned out, I had taken a photo of a Mercedes G-Wagen had an interesting story behind it.

Turned out Gunther, Christine and Martin Holtorf who had embarked on a journey to drive to countries all over the world, had stopped by in Miri.

Gunther Holtorf was an executive for German Airline Lufthansa. In 1990, when he neared the age of 50, he decided that he wanted to see the world. Having worked for an airline he has already traveled much of the world by air travel, but it wasn't enough - so he decided to load everything they needed into his 1988 Mercedes Benz G-Wagon and set off to see the world, starting with Africa. From there they decided to continue and see as many countries as possible, traversing oceans to cross continents, the trips paid entirely out of his own pocket, and declining sponsorship.

It was 17 years and 100 countries later that the Holtorf and Otto finally visited Miri, Sarawak, Borneo after driving through Pontianak, Indonesia. After finishing off his Borneo trip at Sabah, the Holtorf family came back to Miri to have the G-Wagen shipped off to his next journey.


The G-Wagon, which the Holtorf had christened "Otto", is a nearly stock standard vehicle, only modifications being large belly tanks for extra range, heavy duty springs and shock absorbers to cope the journey and extra weight of the equipment necessary to sleep, cook, eat, drink and shower around the car. Also carried along are 400 spares parts, which according to Holtorf, weigh over 350 kilograms, for preventive maintenance and repairs.

Today, after travelling 556,000 miles and 215 countries the G-Wagen is on display in the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart, Germany. The G-Wagen had been to more single countries than any other car.

Read more about Gunther Holtorf

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