2007 Mercedes-Benz R500 4MATIC: Gentrified German

Jerry of GRP Customs set pout to turn his luxury crossover into a game changer.

Story: Evan “Evo” Yates

Photography: Ravi Angard

The R-Class Benz may have failed to meet Daimler’s lofty expectations due to its identity crisis; it reeks of an odd blend between a Honda Odyssey and an S-Class but falls short of what either offers. Thankfully, the R-Class seems to have found its niche in the custom-car world, as the abundant cabin space and the ample wheel wells have made this luxury crossover quite a hot commodity.

Owner of GRP Customs of Sarasota, Florida, Jerry took heed of the steadily growing luxury hauler trend, but he felt the current examples fell far short of what a custom vehicle should be. “I saw a couple of ’em done up, but they were scared to go all the way,” explains Jerry. “Everybody was scared to put the fiberglass everywhere and really make it custom.” Vowing to build the first true inside-and-out custom R-Class, Jerry copped a 2007 and broke it down immediately. “My whole concept was to have no paint anywhere it wasn’t supposed to be; not on the rubber, the screws, etcetera,” says Jerry. “I ended up taking all the windows out and the doors off, the hood and the back hatch—everything had to come off the car. I have pictures where it looks like it was on an assembly line when I had it all apart.” When dealing with a high-end German-engineered vehicle, disassembly isn’t exactly the same as gutting an American equivalent, and Jerry admits it wasn’t a simple assignment. “We had a few hurdles,” he says. “But you just have to take your time and do it right.”

Another chore was properly mounting the 30-inch Forgiatos under the Bondi Beach Benz without leaving any remnants of fitment modifications. For the lift, Jerry reached out to North Tampa Customs for assistance. “My guys at North Tampa Customs helped me out with a bunch of stuff on that car,” he says, “especially the lift.” After the lift was perfected, Jerry performed wheel-well surgery to ensure what he likes to call the “invisible cut.”

“I did all the cutting and welding, so it looks original,” proclaims Jerry. “You can never tell the truck was cut. People are always amazed thinking I didn’t have to, but it’s an invisible cut. I’m just really trying to bring that invisible cut to the game instead of these hack jobs out there. You got a high-dollar vehicle like that and you’re chopping it up—it don’t look right.”

As it sits, Jerry affirms there isn’t much he can add to his ritzy R-Class. “I’m pretty much maxed out,” he admits. “There’s not much else I can do to it, but I’m thinking about doing 32s later in the year and maybe redoing all the fiberglass.” And as far as his competition, although he acknowledges a few distant competitors, Jerry is quite satisfied that his hard work has resulted in a seat on the throne. “I’m at the top of the game,” proclaims Jerry. “From East to West to Down South, I got it in a choke hold right now!”

Spec The Technique:

Year/Make/Model: 2007 Mercedes-Benz R500 4MATIC

Performance: Stock

Exterior: Outrageous Bondi Beach paint by GRP Customs; custom grille by Gold Man

Interior: Gray leather with Hot Rod Blue suede inserts; suede headliner; custom fiberglass door panels

Ice: Three 12-inch Kicker Solo X subs, three Kicker ZX2500.1 amps; 14,000 watts on 52 Earthquake Sound speakers; custom fiberglass box and doors painted Bondi Beach; all audio by GRP Customs

Wheels/Tires: 30-inch Forgiato Inferno wheels; Lexani LX-9 tires, 265/30/30; lifted by North Tampa Customs