Vintage vans: The alternatives to VW Bulli and Ford Transit

Vintage vans: The alternatives to VW Bulli and Ford Transit

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Vintage vans: The alternatives to VW Bulli and Ford Transit

WWhen he thinks of historical vans, he usually has a VW Bulli in mind, maybe an old Ford Transit. But there are other light commercial vehicles beyond the best-selling vans that could still be of interest to classic car fans with a lot of space today. Like the Mercedes L 206 D, a van with a long history.

Mercedes L 206 D as an alternative to the VW Bulli

On January 1, 1971, Daimler-Benz took over the van manufacturer Hanomag-Henschel completely, explains Mercedes-Benz Classic. The majority had already been in place since 1969 and some models were optionally supplied with Mercedes engines.

The Stuttgart-based company also entered the field of light commercial vehicles. As early as 1970, the first models rolled off the assembly line as Mercedes with a star and slightly better equipment, such as the L 206 D and L 207 transporters, which were officially presented at the beginning of 1971.

The vehicles were based on the Hanomag-Henschel F20 to F35 and initially differed only in a few equipment features. Now as Mercedes, they wore the star and expanded the Stuttgart-based commercial vehicle program.

With an L 207 D from Mercedes, space problems with the mother-in-law cannot be cited in order not to take her to the next classic car meeting

Source: dpa-tmn / Daimler AG

A 60 hp diesel was available from Mercedes and until 1977 there was also an Austin petrol engine with 70 hp in the L 207 and L 307 types. Initially, the diesel engine only had 55 hp. Mercedes rounded up the nomenclature to 60. From 1972, however, the engine received a full 60 hp.

The L in L 206 means “short-nosed truck”, the 20 stands for two tons of maximum vehicle weight and the 6 for 60 hp. The D followed in the case of a diesel. Customers such as VW Bulli and Ford Transit could also choose from various bodies such as panel vans, station wagons, flatbeds and double cabins.

Stephan Heide sees the peculiarity of the Mercedes models in their origin and technology. “In principle, the L 206 is a further development of the Tempo Matador E from 1963, which in turn was further developed by Hanomag and ran under the Mercedes star from the beginning of the 1970s,” explains the deputy editor-in-chief of “Last & Kraft” Trade journal for historic commercial vehicles. There is also a tubular frame chassis with front-wheel drive, which offers a flexible rear with a flat loading area and many mounting options.

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Mercedes-Benz makes a comeback

“The basic idea of ​​Tempo was good at the time, so Mercedes took it over, after a break even back in the Mercedes MB 100 from 1988,” says Stephan Heide. But in the tough everyday work of the 1970s, only a few vehicles survived; most were worn out. In contrast to the Borgward B611, Ford Transit or VW Bulli, no big scene for the Mercedes model has developed in recent years.

The market for vintage vans is small

The market for historic vans such as Tempo Matador, Hanomag Matador, Hanomag-Henschel F25 or Mercedes L 206 / L 207 is therefore rather small. “They are underestimated vehicles that are collected, but rarely sold,” says Aleksandra Lippert from the market observer Classic Analytics.

“They do not enjoy a cult character like a VW Bulli and, if they are offered at all, are sold cheaply,” says Lippert. Well-maintained vehicles are available for less than 12,000 euros. Exceptions to this for the Mercedes L206 are special mobile homes from the body builder Orion.

The Bulli (here T2) is a sought-after van, which is also reflected in the high prices

Source: dpa-tmn / Axel Heimken

Popular vans are VW Bullis from almost all generations, the small Fiat 238 and the larger Mercedes T 2 vans from the Düsseldorf “DüDo” series, including the L 406 D, L 508 D or L 613 D.

“The large L 613 D are popular with campers, especially those with the wide body and the six-cylinder engine,” says Lippert. Even the Ford Transit, which has recently been sold frequently in Germany, has a niche existence and is usually cheap.

Transporter as an authority vehicle

Exciting vehicles can also be found on used car portals or at vehicle auctions by authorities such as the police, fire brigade or technical aid organization (THW). Fire brigades repeatedly auction portable fire pumps (TSF) from VW Bus, VW LT or Ford Transit.

Authority vehicles usually have little mileage and have been well cared for. Depending on the model and condition, they cost between 5,000 and 8,000 euros. For the larger fire fighting group vehicles 8 (LF8), enthusiasts pay over 10,000 euros.

“With the exception of the fire engine, vans are usually spared and less well cared for. Rust can therefore occur anywhere and is a real problem, ”says Aleksandra Lippert.

What to look out for when buying a classic van

Hans Gerd Brauneiser from the Rheinlandgarage in Cologne sees it similarly. However, it depends heavily on the previous use and the subsequent maintenance effort.

“Most of the historic vans were hit hard and therefore show a lot of traces. There is rust in every corner, ”says Brauneiser.

In addition, problems often occur with the drum brakes, differently depending on the make and model. If they are worn out, the original sets are not so easy to get – some spare parts are simply no longer available.

The other “Bulli”: The Transit from Ford is an alternative for classic cars with a lot of space

Source: dpa-tmn / Ford Werke AG

Even with body parts and glass for front, side and rear windows, exotic goods, i.e. all models except the VW Bulli, are often in short supply. Good contact with a bodybuilder or good manual skills are therefore an advantage for repairs.

In the case of well-maintained vehicles by the authorities, the technology is usually in order, but there is often damage to the floor. “Before buying, interested parties should therefore check all bearings and rubbers, such as hardy discs, steering shafts, stabilizers, but also tires and seals. They can simply crumble away over time, ”says Hans Gerd Brauneiser.

Petrol or diesel?

If you fluctuate between a gasoline engine and a diesel engine, you should rather take a gasoline engine. “The engines consume a little more, but they run better than the lame naturally aspirated diesel and are also cheaper to repair. Overhauling a historic injection pump can be very expensive, ”says Hans Gerd Brauneiser.

As a specialist in historic Ford vehicles, he recommends a Transit III built from 1978 onwards, which instead of the weak V4 engine has a modern inline four-cylinder with an upper camshaft. The engine can be repaired easily and cheaply and also give it a few more horsepower. Panel vans are usually cheaper than station wagons with side windows.

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Incidentally, Daimler-Benz began winding up Hanomag in 1974, and the brand disappeared. Until August 1977, old Hanomag developments such as the L 206 D / L 307 with the star were still being built – then this car was history.

From 1978 onwards, Daimler-Benz incorporated all of the Hanomag-Henschel production facilities as branch plants. Around 304,000 vehicles were built by Hanomag and Mercedes, 165,000 of them with the three-pointed star.

Made in Italy: Friends of Bella Italia and Dolce Vita can also be happy with classic vans – for example with the 238 Panorama from Fiat

Those: dpa-tmn / FIAT

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