For the price of, um, three V-Classes you can have this whimsical Merc 'O 319' Minibus
We’re a sucker for a campervan, and Mercedes launching a rival to the VW California – the properly posh V-Class Marco Polo – made us very happy indeed. But perhaps this is even cooler. It’s an old Mercedes commercial vehicle that someone’s had the good grace to turn into a bedroom.
Let’s start on the outside, though, because that’s where this O 319 Minibus looks at its most wonderful. It’s a bit of an iconic design, the base 319 van, and its 13 years of production turned out everything from pick-ups to fire engines.
This Minibus was produced in 1959 but, as you might suspect from these images, has had a thorough restoration spanning 15 years. Its two-tone paint looks good as new, while the restoration has also seen it decked out with a double bed and all the modern accoutrements you’d want from a campervan.
You might argue it’s a bit too modern inside; the steering wheel and dials look nice and Fifties-esque, while everything else lies between the van’s original decade and the current one. But if it means everything works – and that you actually use the thing to camp in – what’s the problem?
That theme continues beneath the skin. While this 319 retains its original rear-wheel-drive setup (with dual wheels at each end of the back axle), it’s now powered by a modern Merc petrol engine and automatic gearbox. Again, with original 319s having just 43bhp, it’s easy to argue that’s a good thing.
Like what you see? It’s being auctioned at the RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale on January 18 and 19. It’s offered without reserve, too, though don’t think that means you can throw in a cheeky bid and get it for next to nowt. Its estimate is US$175,000 to $200,000.
At current exchange rates, that’s £130,000 to £147,000. Or nearly three Marco Polos. Would you?
STORY Stephen Dobie
IMAGES: Gabor Mayer © Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s