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Mercedes-Benz Motorhome Steals the Show at German Car Day

Jay Ramey June 20, 2013 Car Shows, Cars You Should Know 8 Comments

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This past weekend Kamil and I made the arduous, 20-minute long trek to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA, for their annual German car day. Every year the museum hosts more than two dozen lawn events on its scenic grounds, and every year it seems like there is less and less of a chance to find a parking spot. German Car Day is one of the museum’s top three best attended events, and this year the field filled up so quickly that the field ran out of room. And the cars that turned out were definitely worth the wait, with an impressive selection of early and late model German cars. In addition to all the marques that you’d expect to see at a show like this, there were rarities like a Glas Goggomobil, an Opel Manta Coupe, and more.

Even though German car day is all about passenger cars, this 1961 Mercedes-Benz O 321 H above just about stole the show. This 1961 6-cylinder diesel bus originally shuttled around the Swiss national hockey team, before being converted to a motorhome complete with two beds, two long couches, at least six standard bus seats, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a nice big parcel shelf just over the engine. (The “H” at end of the model name stands for hockey, in case you were wondering). Buses of this type were common pretty much everywhere in Europe well into the 1990s, so it was nice to see one of these here across the pond. Kamil and I briefly considered making an offer on the thing with the intention of turning it into the Hooniverse Mobile Headquarters, but that plan fell apart as soon as it was discovered that we only had 16 bucks and change (some of it Canadian) between the two of us that day, not counting a Fiat 500C Abarth press car.

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This bus appeared on Bring a Trailer in 2012 out of Switzerland where it sold for the equivalent of $32K, and was subsequently shipped over to Massachusetts where it was offered for a cool $115K. Not a whole lot appears to have been done to it on the outside since its importation, aside from (presumably) a thorough cleaning and the removal of dozens of stickers from the back window, though I did see some “shadows” and sticker residue on the back of the bus.

The braking system on this bus was said to be pretty tricky, requiring pumping. Even so, the bus made a 15 mile trip here from neighboring Maynard, Massachusetts where it is kept. The engine compartment houses and pretty standard Mercedes-Benz diesel engine, in addition to a spare tire. The interior of the bus seems to have been redone sometime in the 1980s, judging by some of the materials, but it was unclear just when the bus had been converted to a motorhome. There are a few smaller Mercedes-Benz O 319 buses in the country, but this is probably one of the bigger classic ones that can be found. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the only example of this model, motorhome interior or otherwise. 

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Contrary to what you’d expect, the shipping costs for something like this tend to be pretty modest, as you will recall that people tour the US in their camper vans that that bring over from the continent all the time.

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This country is certainly no stranger to motorhomes doing 50mph in the left lane with a towed MINI Cooper thrashing from side to side, like alligator’s tail, but over in Europe caravans tend to be in a slightly smaller weight class. This conversion was certainly not in the same price category as that rotting Shasta camper trailer that neighbors your lake house upstate that may or may not contain the remains of a raccoon, so I can only imagine the running costs of something like this back when it was new. Or even the expenses of keeping something like this garaged. Europe’s Florida is called España, but I certainly didn’t see this many caravans in this weight class noodling around when I was there last.

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Here’s a nice 1974 BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobile, owned by Neal and Ariella Heffron. This car appeared at Greenwich Concours just a couple weeks ago.


A solid Mercedes-Benz 450SL from 1973, this one was brought to German Car Day by Dr. John Christoforo. This car is actually his daily driver, in the summertime at least. A nicely kept Mercedes in a rare color, I’m sure we’d all agree.


German Car Day wouldn’t be complete without a 300SL, and this original 1955 example is owned by Arthur Gutierrez. This car previously appeared at German Car Day.


One of my favorite BMWs this year was this wonderful 3.0 CS Alpina from 1974, owned by Duane Sword. This car looked even better in person than it does in the photos here, though Kamil was skeptical of the overall value of Alpina’s tuning efforts.

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Another sharp BMW 3.0 this one is 1973 and is owned by Stan Chamallas. The 3.0 CS, interestingly enough, features a 3.5 liter inline-six. So even when numbers that are seemingly displacement figures appear on the trunk, you can never be sure.


Here was perhaps my favorite BMW of the entire show, a wonderful 1976 2800 CS owned by Tod Bryant.

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A nice BMW 3.0 CSi from 1973, owned by longtime Roundel contributor Robert Siegel, who has just published a book “Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic”. Bill Griffith at The Boston Globe called it “One of the best auto memoirs I’ve read in a long time”. Robert was on hand at the show to sign copies and Kamil and I briefly chatted with him.


A nice and sharp M535i from 1983, this example was brought to the show by Marc Myette. A nicely modified M535i I have to say, and certainly an E28 that we don’t see very often. 528es on the other hand, that’s a different story.


This was one of my favorites, a 1979 BMW 6333CSi owned by Robert Berman. This car spent most of its life in Pennsylvania, and just recently had an engine rebuild to the tune of $5K by Bavarian Engine Exchange in California. Rare to see a stock E24 in this condition, and wearing original high profile tires over relatively small (by today’s standards) wheels. A clean and understated example.

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German Car Day isn’t all about BMWs, and this year there was a strong Porsche turnout with more than 40 examples present. Amidst a sea of 356s this 1982 928 caught my eye. Claimed to be an all original example, this car had just 57K miles on the clock.


A nice E34 BMW M5 from 1991, this example is owned by Mac Holmes and has approximately 130K miles on it.


This Mercedes-Benz S350 Turbodiesel is a rare sight these days, as the diesel W140s were only available for a short period of time in North America. This 1994 example is owned by Mario Silva and features a 3.4 liter 6-cylinder diesel engine. Months pass between sightings of diesel W140s, and very few of them are in good condition anymore. This example was pretty tidy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it had well over 150K on the clock.


A nice 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera C2 Cabrio that caught my eye, and this car was for sale. The seller started off the placard with the following words “Please DO NOT buy this car if you are shy; you will feel uncomfortable getting thumbs-up from random people – young and old, male and female – and having them start conversations with you at traffic lights and in parking lots”. This appeared to be a nicely kept example with only 75K miles on the clock, and the seller claims to have followed the maintenance regimen religiously on this last of the air cooled Porsches. 

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My favorite Audi was this stunning 1983 Quattro owned by Michael Sylvester. This car is a regular visitor at Larz Anderson.

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This was a thoroughly awesome 1984 Audi 4000S in LE trim updated with Avus wheels. The Limited Edition trim means the car came with a quattro rear spoiler, sport style seats, a power sunroof, and was offered in just three colors. The current owner, Rob Petschke, has had this car since the year 2000, and it has appeared in the September 2008 and January 2009 issues of Audi Driver magazine.

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Another photogenic Audi was this 1982 Coupe, also belonging to Rob Petschke. As you’ve probably guessed by now, Rob is very much an Audi fan.

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It wouldn’t quite be German Car Day without an appearance by Neal Heffron’s 1980 BMW M1, which we took a closer look at just a few days ago. The M1 is a regular at the museum, and the owner is always happy to chat about the car. Needless to say, very few BMW gatherings in America even have an M1 in attendance, so it always gathers a crowd.

That’s it for German Car Day this year. This Sunday is the museum’s British Car Day, another one of its top three best attended events.

Browse the full gallery from this year’s German Car Day below:

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]




  • MVEilenstein

    I'd probably remove or cover some of the windows on that motorbushome, but otherwise it looks like a pretty comfy ride!

    • Alcology

      The windows are pretty amazing. Really make the inside look a lot bigger than it really is.

      • MVEilenstein

        That's a good point. My only worry is sun damage, but maybe that's not an issue in MA?Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

        • Alcology

          Ahhh, sun damage. Not so much an issue here. There are curtains that cover all the windows, so that would help alleviate it.

    • Jay_Ramey

      It's got shades, it's all good.

  • krazykarguy

    I love it when a completely un-hoonable car (like the W140 S350 above) is photographed in such a way that it appears to be drifting around an impossibly tight corner.

    • Jay_Ramey

      Hahah, yeah, I'll add some fake tire smoke next time, like in Ronin : )

  • E9 drool, E9 Alpina DROOL!