10k: 1967 Mercedes-Benz O309 Bus RV
Its not often that you find a car that is cool, cheap, vintage and zombie proof, not to mention highly useful! But this 1967 Mercedes Bus O309 fits the bill and is for sale in Los Angeles, CA for $8500 via craigslist. The O309 (O stands for Omnibus!) was the Bus version of the Mercedes Düsseldorfer L406D van and this one was converted to an RV by a thoughtful previous owner.
The O309 looks very much like a city bus with its huge front greenhouse and form follows function layout. You won’t find anything that isn’t strictly necessary for getting people or products from one place to another – except maybe the dinner plate sized Mercedes emblem on the front. The O309s were sold all over the world and have super simple mechanical components that can be fixed with simple tools – many still run to this day in remote villages in South America and Africa without needing to visit a Mercedes Stealer.
This thing should be powered by a 55 horsepower 2.0 liter diesel engine taken from the 200D sedan (the OM615) but the seller states a 5 cylinder, so it could have been upgraded to a later 3.0 liter OM617 inline 5 diesel putting out 80 horsepower. Either way, this thing should be able to live up to its Bus-heritage (Vancestry?) and clog up the roads with black smoke and slowness like nothing short of a tractor. Mercifully it has a manual transmission – an auto in this thing would be downright masochistic on hills. Please upshift…upshift…no no too slow…downshift downshift…too noisy…upshift…rinse and repeat.
The inside has been converted into a simple RV setup – which should allow your passengers to walk around and risk dismemberment in a crash. As always with RVs – be sure to give everything inside a good dousing with toxic chemicals before sitting/sleeping/etc. Don’t check it with a black-light unless you want nightmares and never ever ‘rent’ an RV.
Even with the colossally slow MBZ diesel engine we think this thing could pull a track car around…albeit slowly – but you don’t need to go fast until you get to the track. Expect fantastic fuel economy compared to a modern 400 horsepower diesel pickup and this thing has more style than any RV this side of a Airstream. We think this would be a good deal if the paint is high quality and the price could be negotiated down a bit.
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I'd love to clog-up Highway to the Sun with this beautiful beast! It's like a a gigantic, super-slow, Scion XB! Please, still my beating heart…
~ no mention or photos of plumbing or appliances. can't really call it a motorhome although it could become a cool one. install a stripper-pole and hire it out as a party coach. bring a cooler.
If you were so inclined, this would make an outstanding starting point for a very cool resto-mod update.
i happen to be so inclined and have purchased this vehicle and various updates are underway. the current focus is on replacing window and door seal all the way around. doing the front three glass panels last as there's a fair amount of rust/rot at the windshield base (pinch weld). brake line, wheel cylinder replacement, and leaf spring bushings/maintenance are around the corner. with any luck the roof raise (12+inches) will be completed by fall 2017
Matthew — You are my hero! Send me some pics — firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post a follow up story.
Readers Rides, Readers Rides!
I owned a 1978 O 309 with an automatic in it. If you drove it like a manual it would move on out, as an auto it would take all day to get anywhere as it would be in 4th gear before you were across the intersection. Got 16 mpg empty or loaded, with the 4 cylinder 60 hp diesel. Topped out at 65-70 just took time to get there.
I loved it, it was a hoot to drive but parts were a problem. MB would say "You got a what??" I was in the process of fixing it up like the one above, but I let my wife talk me into selling it (should have gotten rid of the wife, the bus was less of a problem).
i have 2 309 buses one is a motorhome i also have some engine parts and windoww glas i like to sell. 9097959456 hans email@example.com
in july 2015 i traded my beautifully restored 1972 mercedes 220d for this 1967 mercedes L406D. a fellow in the indianapolis area had purchased it and had it shipped to the midwest from southern california. as of december 2015 the interior has been gutted, replaced expanded polystyrene insulation (r-3) with extruded (r-5) and reflectix, roof and other water leaks repaired, coolant system descaled and refilled with the correct antifreeze (zerex g5/mb equivalent) ignition and door keys fitted (came with no keys), the 'mickey mouse' white trim around the windows has been deleted, the bumpers are now textured/flat black, zerostart block heater is fitted. over the winter i will be creating a new floorplan to include a thetford c400 commode, four burner convection oven, dometic freezer/refrigerator, roof a/c, complete replumb/rewire. in the spring the roof will be raised a minimum of 14" for headroom and to accommodate the increased floor/ceiling insulation. questions or comments contact matthew fitzgibbons in beautiful toledo, ohio (ihype[at]hotmail.com)
please please please send many photos and even more detailed description to vince at firstname.lastname@example.org – this will be a fantastic "reader ride" – can't wait to see the black bumpers and progress photos of all the renovations – sounds totally amazing – i might even do a logo for it 😉
[more] i forgot to mention the unbelievable overkill the unknown european company used when the motorhome conversion was done in about 1967-68. while dismantling the interior of the bus we discovered welded heavy gauge angle iron was used to frame all the interior walls and partitions. incredibly, the angle iron was drilled and the brass screws used to hold plywood were countersunk in the metal. smaller brass screws were used to hold the high quality wood paneling and trim to the plywood. we encountered a few pieces of small decorative ceramic tile that once covered the floor. other odds and ends that turned up in the walls/beneath cabinets included a couple early 70's german coins, one swedish coin, a german pencil and screwdriver. there were two heavy gauge steel holding tanks welded to the subframe/undercarriage each with a capacity of 3-4 gallons and gate valve discharge chute. oddly they both had approximately 3" X 4" overflow holes cut into the top to create the "never full" holding tanks.
this bus is amazing old vehicles is always very useful..thanks for sharing this details with us Used Mercedes S320 Cars For Sale