Jurassic Park: The Lost World Benz On Film: 1997 ML-Class Mainly responsible for getting everyone killed, The Lost World’s Mercedes ML-Class has endured a rough time on screen. But is there redemption?
In Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park book series, the exploration team employed use of stock Land Rovers and Land Cruisers, whereas the 1993 blockbuster utilised Jeep’s Wrangler to huge cultural effect. However, for the film franchises’ second outing producers accepted product placement from Mercedes, plugging their all-new ML-Class; ready to tackle the market-hogging Range Rover. Except, if the team from The Lost World had driven P38a Range Rovers, they would probably have all survived.
Sources claim different numbers were made for Steven Spielberg’s 1997 sequel, but three variants appear on screen. Firstly, there is a Laboratory vehicle with bubble roof and hood-mounted carrier, alongside an Observatory-spec model with additional protection and a larger roof. Finally, a convertible with affixed light bars and rear-mounted Jerry cans takes the limelight, even if in tropical rain this hardly seems like a solid idea.
Besides four-wheel drive, the Pre-Production ML vehicles were installed with front bull bars, a winch, spotlights, rear tail light guards, custom step bars and camouflage paint. Not that these attributes saved anyone – the lack of traction from a road-friendly four-wheel drive system-lead to a man being ripped apart by a pair of enraged dinosaurs. Then two explosions and further chaos as the characters remained stranded deep in the jungle fighting for their lives. Again, if they had used Blighty’s offerings the situation may have been far more successful.
Needless to say, despite complete destruction and a reptilian bloodbath, the marketing paid off, with branded toys as part of Matchbox’s The Lost World toyline selling out – creating a new generation of youngster aspiring to Benz ownership. Jeff Goldblum, the actor starring as Ian Malcolm, also received an ML320 from Mercedes as a result of the tie-in – Goldblum could still be seen using the car as late as 2011, obviously wearing well 15 years on from hand over.
Now cheaper to purchase on the market than almost any other millennial SUV, the M-Class has appeared as transport for thugs and a disposable pleasure for stunt directors. In 2008’s cult Liam Neeson action thriller Taken, an ML is written off in a gruesome way with a JCB, whereas any European gangland film usually crashes, flips or blows one up after an abusive car chase.
Yet, the image is still there, the curves and aggressive stance still cutting the mustard for audiences as a projected image of wealth, success and sinister motives.
Above: Laboratory spec ML didn’t last long on screen. Road cars successfully avoided dinosaur attack.