Cohort Classic: Mercedes L319D Camper: The Globe Trotter

Mercedes L319 L

woulda, coulda, shoulda...An unavoidable aspect of getting older is coming to terms with pangs of regret for the roads not taken, metaphorically and literally. The post I did recently on old Mercedes vans and campers triggered a wave for me, especially the 0319 motor home conversion. And then when Alistair sent me the pictures of this Mercedes L319D Camper, along with a bit of its story, the waves gathered strength. But when I opened the picture of its rear doors, upon which all the destinations of this globe trotter are painted, it was almost too much. Alistair, you really shouldn’t have…

Mercedes L319 rd

There it is, and what a list it is. From what I can tell, there were two major globe-trotting journeys, one documented on the left, the other on the right. Here’s a closer look at each.

Mercedes L319 rd l

The first started September 21, 1964, in Victoria, BC Canada. Drove across Canada, shipped out to Rotterdam, criss-crossed much of Western Europe, shipped to North Africa, traversed east to Cairo… Lebanon… Israel… Turkey…. Yugoslavia… Italy…. Vienna… Ukraine… Moscow… Scandinavia… Paris… London… Berlin… even East Berlin… back across Canada… and back home on October 6, 1965 (presumably).  A full year on the road, with the winter spent in Northern Africa. A truck full of memories memorialized.

Mercedes L319 rd r

A few years to digest those before wanderlust set in again, and the Benz was off on trip #2, in 1970. This time down across the US to New Orleans, a second trip across other parts of Africa… Spain… France… the Stelvio Pass, taken slowly no doubt, given the 43, 52 or 60 hp, depending on exactly which diesel engine this L319D has. The Brenner Pass too, down into Innsbruck… Germany… Poland… USSR… Turkey… Greece… and then shipped back from Livorno, Italy. And then the return trip from New Orleans to Victoria. This time the trip was seven months long.

Mercedes L319 fc

I can see my younger self here behind the steering wheel, watching the world go by (sloooowly), ready for the next new country and adventure. Here’s Alistair’s comment on this veteran:

The MB 319 feature some weeks ago had me biting my tongue. My across the street neighbour bought this van during the summer, but is technically not a CC. I actually put him on to it, having found the ad. As you can imagine there is a long story behind it, the original owner’s son was selling what really was a family treasure. My neighbour had thought he would fix it up but I feel he is now daunted by the task.
It’s a good thing I didn’t know about it being for sale. I might have bought it just to sit in it and absorb all the memories of where it’s been.
Mercedes L319 int
And what a comfy little camper it is, looking all the world like a boat’s cabin. And there’s the world map, apparently laminated onto a flip up table no less. This obviously is a home-built affair; or hired out to a boat-builder perhaps. I’d have liked to see more of the interior, but I can imagine it pretty readily.
Mercedes L319 fq
You think it’s got another globe-trot left in it? Down the coast of Africa to Gambia, at least? Hmm…