In the wake of the $32 billion blowup at FTX this month, the ongoing fallout in the crypto industry, and a monthslong decline in prices, plenty of crypto investors who had been flush with coin until recently are suddenly very hard up. Now, it appears that some of them may be flooding the market with lightly used G-Wagens at steep discounts. “G-Wagen,” for those who may not be in the market for a car priced like a house, is a nickname for the Mercedes-Benz G-Class — usually the G 63 AMG, a luxury SUV that looks like the ungainly love child of an antique hearse and a cyberpunk monster truck. As entrepreneur Marshall Haas tweeted last week, “There are currently 1,606 G Wagon’s for sale on AutoTrader right now. That’s more than I’ve ever seen. Crypto boys are hurting.” My own search on the car marketplace yielded around 1,000.
It’s not clear when the G-Wagen became one of the most coveted cars of the newly wealthy crypto class, but like vintage Rolexes and certain NFTs, the main source of its appeal seems to be that it’s very expensive. G-Wagens go for hundreds of thousands of dollars (a new 2022 model was priced at $330,000 on Autotrader), the equivalent of a Lamborghini Urus. As the anonymous CEO of a car-dealership group who writes the CarDealershipGuy Newsletter tells me, luxury cars are a standard splurge for crypto millionaires: “It has become a sort of meme, but there’s some truth to it.” He attributes the G-Wagen’s popularity to its engine performance, its standing as a status symbol, and the fact that it can be written off as a major tax deduction; because of its weight, it can sometimes be categorized as heavy machinery. The Dubai-based crypto mogul Christopher Jaszczynski has flaunted the hand-painted reptilian G-Wagen at the center of his ostentatious car collection, and in August, the New York Post featured an Amazon delivery worker turned crypto millionaire who burned some of his newfound wealth on a $250,000 G-Wagen. Mercedes-Benz itself, understanding its new target demographic, recently partnered with five NFT artists to market the vehicle. As analyst Web Smith put it, “When someone has ‘eCommerce’ in their bio on Instagram,” they also have “crypto, and the year of their G Wagon.”
Not only are used G-Wagens piling up on Autotrader, but they’re available at much deeper discounts. Earlier this year, 2021 model G-Wagens with low mileage were going for close to $300,000, according to CarDealershipGuy, but now he’s seeing major price cuts. “In the last two weeks alone,” he says, “I’ve seen several sell for sub-$200,000 in excellent, close to mint condition.” He says a huge chunk of the price drop has occurred in the past few weeks. This is especially surprising given that the G-Wagen tends to hold value better than many other cars. He declined to speculate on whether the crypto crash is fueling the precipitous drop in G-Wagen prices but says he is hearing from an increasing number of owners looking to sell their luxury cars. “People are trying to off-load them, people that need money for some reason,” he says. “It feels emblematic of the macro that’s impacting it.”
The price decrease tracks with a widespread decline in used-car sales this year, but CarDealershipGuy notes that luxury-vehicle prices are largely removed from the rest of the used-car industry. Still, it’s a buyer’s market right now, whether someone is looking for a 2003 Toyota Corolla or a 2021 G-Wagen. One thing we can say with some certainty: The purchases probably won’t be financed by bitcoin.