AUTOS

Mercedes 6-wheeler costars with Michael Douglas

The MSRP for the massive 6X6 starts at $500,000 and goes up fast

The producers of the new thriller "Beyond The Reach" needed a villain.

Specifically, they needed a bad guy to costar with Michael Douglas, who plays the murderous multimillionaire out to kill an innocent hunting guide played by Jeremy Irvine.

Requirements for the role included beauty, speed, agility and toughness, and the ability to withstand long shooting days in New Mexico desert near Four Corners.

The casting call led them to a most unusual candidate. Douglas' evil partner in crime is played by a Mercedes 6x6.

The massive and massively expensive luxury off-roader, officially known as the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6X6, had to be flown from Germany in a cargo plane -- accompanied by its own dedicated engineer -- to make its feature film debut in the movie that opens in theaters and video-on-demand April 17.

The three-axle, all-wheel-drive, twin-turbocharged monster, which weighs about 9,000 pounds, costs more than $500,000 stripped. (There is an armored version that costs $1.3 million, according to some reports.) But even in its standard form, the 6X6 has many cool features, including onboard air tanks that will allow the driver to deflate and inflate the tires, at the push of a button, to cope with changing road and off-road surfaces.

The one that appears in "Beyond the Reach" is anything but stripped. The vehicle is equipped with custom-made cases for Douglas' special hunting rifles, and softer touches like a microwave oven and espresso machine.

The film's script, based on the 1972 novel "Death Watch," called for Douglas' character to show up in the desert, ready for a one-man hunting trip, driving a "luxury SUV." 

Producer Robert Mitas credits Douglas -- who is also a producer on the movie -- with bagging the super-rare 6X6.

"He walked into the offices of Mercedes USA in New York and pitched them the movie," Mitas said. "They jumped in."

Mitas said there were no 6X6s in the US -- because they were never sold here. So Mercedes flew a prototype, plus full sets of extra tires, fenders and a special 6X6 mechanic, from Germany to an airfield in Texas. From there, it was transported to the New Mexico filming location on a truck -- under wraps -- and then stored in a locked warehouse when it wasn't on the set.

Mitas gives the 6X6 high marks. Ordinarily, when a vehicle appears in a film, the producers have secured several of them -- one for long shots, one for close-ups, one for driving sequences, and a couple for backup in case one of them breaks down.

"We only had one," Mitas said. "We were a low-budget movie, shooting in the middle of the desert, and we really needed it not to break down. It never broke down."

Despite the star-making performance, the 6X6's appearance in the movie will not drive sales of the three-axle road warrior: Mercedes, having built and sold about 100 of the unusual desert beasts, recently stopped producing them.

But that's not going to stop them from being in the movies. The mighty 6X6 will appear this summer in the sequel "Jurassic World."

Twitter: @misterfleming

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