While building my new toilet at the farm of my friends in Bavaria, I spotted an ad of someone selling a Mercedes 911 truck close by. I’ve always been fascinated by the beautiful trucks that Mercedes built in the 60s. I met Martin and Peggy on the Canary Islands who were traveling in a Mercedes 1113 truck that I really liked. So much space! They traveled in an actual house not just a compact van like mine.
Although I wasn’t actively looking for a new vehicle, I decided to check out the Mercedes 911, just to see it in real life and to meet the owner.
The truck was really cool! So was the owner who went on a ride with me as I didn’t have a valid license to drive the truck. The driving experience was so much different compared to my van. The turning circle was gigantic and driving that big vehicle seemed to required a lot of work. Although the truck was much bigger than my van, the driver’s cabin felt smaller from inside. The steering wheel was gigantic but everything else seemed smaller. I specifically noticed the small size of the mirrors. Maneuvering this truck seemed much more complicated than my van that I could park into almost every regular parking lot.
Nevertheless, I was super fascinated. I really liked the driving experience. The highlight of the truck was the gigantic space in the back. The cabin was about 2,3m wide and a about 5m long. More than 10 square meters compared to 6 square meters in my van. I was impressed. The living area felt really spacious. Like a regular apartment.
I quickly realized that I wouldn’t buy the truck. The interior was nicely built but really not suited for my needs. Without checking the truck in detail, I could tell that it required a lot of maintenance: Rust and leaking oil in several places. The condition, the price and my personal needs didn’t really match well. Although it was obvious that I wouldn’t buy the truck, the seller and I kept talking for a while. When I left, I knew that this specific Mercedes truck wasn’t the right one. I also wasn’t sure if I’d like to trade the spacious living space for the driving comfort that my van offered. Nevertheless, the truck really caught my attention and I started researching even more about these trucks.
Going for another trip to Berlin
In the middle of September, I went on another trip to Berlin to hangout with family and friends. Somehow Mercedes trucks seemed following me.
I spotted several trucks when cycling through the city after work.
The more I thought about these trucks, the more I wanted to give it a try. I knew that I didn’t want to own and maintain two classic vehicles in parallel. So, if I’d buy one of these trucks I’d sooner or later have to pass my van to someone else which was a crazy thought. I loved my Mercedes 508 which seemed like the perfect van: It was very short, yet big enough for everything I needed: There was a shower, a kitchen, a bed, a wood-stove, a table, seats, storage and a toilet.
I’ve always considered my van as the perfect vehicle. But there is no perfect. My van was much more easy to drive and park than a truck. But the small size also had some negative aspects: If I wanted to sleep comfortable, I had to lower the table and convert the seating area into a bed. The pillows were fine but not as comfortable as a regular mattress of a permanent bed. The shower cabin was big enough but I always had to remove the toilet before taking a shower. I also realized that my storage reached its limits when people would stay with me for more than just a week. For more than 4 years I got used to live in 6 square meters. But after experience the truck in Munich I realized that more space really made a difference.
Making a decision
I spent endless nights thinking about trucks, the pros and cons, when I finally decided to give it a try. I was motivated for a new project and I could always sell the truck and keep my van if I would realize that a truck wouldn’t be the right thing for my lifestyle.
After all my research, I had a clear idea of what I wanted: A Mercedes 1113 with the OM352 engine equipped with a turbo; single tyres in the back, on-demand four-wheel drive, all the paper work to get the truck registered as a classic motorhome, little to no rust and of course a solid technical condition. I didn’t have any requirements for the cabin: empty, poorly designed or actually matching my needs. I was either willing to pay a lower price for a cabin that I would have to rework or paying a suitable price for a cabin that already offered what I needed.
Checking out a Mercedes 1113
Having defined clear criteria helped a lot to start an active search. Only a few days later, I spotted an ad of someone selling a Mercedes 1113 from 1969 in the north of Berlin.
The truck was so big. The tires were even larger than the ones of the truck that I checked out in Munich. My van seemed like a toy next to the truck.
Initially, I wasn’t quite sure about the big alcove on top of the driver’s cabin. Was it to big? Was it ugly?
But when I took a closer look, I started liking it. The alcove didn’t seem over proportionally big and the overall appearance seemed harmonious. I also really liked the fact that the alcove offered additional 3.5 square meters for a permanent bed, so all the 10 square meters in the back of the cabin would be available for a proper bathroom, kitchen, living and working area. The cabin was also made out of wood so if need I could just cut off the alcove when I really wouldn’t like it.
The interior was very simple: a wood stove, a cupboard, a countertop with a gas cooker and a sink.
The wall cladding didn’t really impress me. There was no bathroom, no table, no electric system, no solar panels, no water system. I liked that everything was so simple, so I wouldn’t have to pay for anything I didn’t like or need and could rework the cabin to my personal needs. The feeling of space inside the cabin was amazing. I didn’t feel like standing in a vehicle. I felt like standing in an apartment. I was impressed!
The alcove had another advantage: Although the truck had been parked outside for several years the driver’s cabin and chassis were well protected from the weather. The base vehicle was well ventilated under the wooden cabin because of the gigantic chassis clearance. I was impressed about the technical condition of the truck.
This truck was 52 years old, 17 years older than my van and looked really well. It was hard to find rust and the rust that I spotted seemed easy to manage. When inspecting the technical parts of the truck, I had the impression that it had been well maintained. Much better than the truck that I saw in Munich.
Buying the Mercedes 1113
The seller was a really nice guy. We got along well and I spent several hours talking with him. He had bought the truck from his friend who originally converted this former firetruck into a mobile home. There were all invoices and a lot of documents that documented all the things the original owner had invested into this truck. The base vehicle seemed like a true gem. The seller obtained the truck only about a year ago right before the Corona pandemic started. Corona and other personal circumstances forced him to change his plans. Unfortunately, the seller didn’t have the chance to invest a lot of time into taking care of the truck. While the base vehicle seemed in a great condition the wooden cabin seemed to require a new paint job. Given I wanted to rework the cabin anyways, I didn’t care too much. I was mostly interested in the base vehicle which seemed amazing.
It didn’t take much time until we made the deal. All of a sudden I was the owner of a Mercedes 1113. I was so excited!
Transferring the truck from Berlin to Bavaria
I still didn’t have a diver’s license to drive such a truck legally. So, I spent another two weeks in and around Berlin in my van until my dad had some time to help me transferring the truck from Berlin down to the farm of my friends in Bavaria where I could start working on my new project.
On a sunny Saturday, we decided to accept the challenge of driving 700km through Germany with two old Mercedes vehicles.
We took a few rest stops where I checked the mechanics to make sure things still worked fine.
Everything seemed fine and we kept driving and driving.
Late at night, we finally reached the farm of my friends in Bavaria without any complications.
It was funny to see the big brother being parked next to my van the next morning.
I was so happy and excited to start this new project!