Rare Rides: The 1996 Heuliez Intruder Concept - a G-Wagen Derivation

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today’s Rare Ride popped up on the Internet recently, hailing from the archive of Long Forgotten Concept Cars. This particular concept happens to be a high-riding off-road cabriolet, created from a Frankenstein-like amalgam of Mercedes-Benz parts and custom fabrications by French alteration firm Heuliez.

Buckle up — it’s gonna get weird.

As a business concern, Heuliez was founded in 1920 and named after its founder Adolphe Heuliez. Initially the company focused on building horse-drawn carts, but the business expanded over time into car parts and bus building. Heuliez was hired by large car firms over the years to build complex components, usually for lower-volume cars. Along the line the successful bus business was spun off into its own company, Heuliez Bus.

By the late Seventies, Heuliez was fully capable of building entire cars for interested firms. Most often, the company worked with Peugeot and Citroën, building wagon and convertible versions of sedans and coupes. When they got the idea for a convertible off-road vehicle, Heuliez was in the midst of a long engagement to build the Citroën XM Break (wagon). Apparently some of the staff had extra time on their hands.

Heuliez designed an all-new body to ride atop the platform from a G-Wagen, a G320 in particular. Stylists used contemporary design cues from various Mercedes-Benz vehicles and sort of chunkified them for their purposes. Given its extensive experience in building convertible components, Heuliez created a bespoke metal folding roof for its Intruder. The interior of the Intruder was a mix of borrowed G-Wagon components, plus other parts of unknown origin. The interior fit for two was finished off with some shockingly blue seats in an almost ultraviolet shade.

Carried over from the donor G were the 3.2-liter engine, four-speed automatic transmission, and the four-wheel drive system. Keen their convertible would be seen as an actual 0ff-road vehicle, the locking differentials were kept, as well. This might be the only coupe-cabriolet in existence with locking differentials.

The design debuted at the 1996 Paris Motor Show. Heuliez revealed its metal roof convertible concept just four months after Mercedes debuted the not quite as capable new SLK. Though it was a functioning vehicle, the Intruder never saw the light of production. Heuliez was at the end of contracts for new cars by the mid-2000s, as around the time very few were buying wagons and convertibles. The firm’s last vehicle was the Opel Tigra Twin Top, in 2009. Heuliez folded in 2013 after building some 450,000 cars over its tenure.

The one-of-one Intruder seen here was subject to a full $329,000 restoration and is for sale presently in England. The Heuliez will intrude on your wallet for $228,995. Dial the roof back and do some rock crawling.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

More by Corey Lewis

Join the conversation
2 of 13 comments
  • Opus Opus on Aug 03, 2020

    Looks like a lifted SC30

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Aug 03, 2020

    Kill it with fire and then kill it some more. My 3 year old niece would turn that into a projectile at the slightest probation.

  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.
  • Stephen My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.
  • Dana You don’t need park, you set auto hold (button on the console). Every BMW answers to ‘Hey, BMW’, but you can set your own personal wake word in iDrive. It takes less than 5 minutes to figure that that out, btw. The audio stays on which is handy for Teams meetings. Once your phone is out of range, the audio is stopped on the car. You can always press down on the audio volume wheel which will mute it, if it bothers you. I found all the controls very intuitive.
  • ToolGuy Not sure if I've ever said this, or if you were listening:• Learn to drive, people.Also, learn which vehicles to take home with you and which ones to walk away from. You are an adult now, think for yourself. (Those ads are lying to you. Your friendly neighborhood automotive dealer, also lying to you. Politicians? Lying to you. Oh yeah, learn how to vote lol.)Addendum for the weak-minded who think I am advocating some 'driver training' program: Learning is not something you do in school once for all time. Learning how to drive is not something that someone does for you. It is a continuous process driven by YOU. Learn how to learn how to drive, and learn to drive. Keep on learning how to drive. (You -- over there -- especially you, you kind of suck at driving. LOL.)Example: Do you know where your tires are? When you are 4 hours into a 6 hour interstate journey and change lanes, do you run over the raised center line retroreflective bumpers, or do you steer between them?
  • Mike Bradley Advertising, movies and TV, manufacturing, and car culture have all made speeding and crashing the ultimate tests of manhood. Throw in the political craziness and you've got a perfect soup of destruction and costs.