Robert J’s Mercedes Van Project

Robert J's Hanomag Before

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For a while now, we have been tossing around the idea of featuring some of your projects as they progress from the barn back to the road. We figure that by following some of our more ambitious readers, we might all get that extra motivation we need to get out in that garage. Robert J had the same idea, so he sent us some before and after photos of his barn find, a 1971 Hanomag-Mercedes L306D project. After two years of work, he has it back in service and it looks like a lot of fun. Keep reading for some history behind his unique van and a photo of what this one looks like today!

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

Robert’s van may have the star emblems on the front and back, but these transporters had actually built by a handful of companies before Mercedes ever sold any. The first in this long line of vans was the 1949 Tempo-Matador. It evolved and eventually became the Hanomag Matador which could be ordered with an Austin or Daimler-Benz diesel engine. So it must have only seemed natural for Mercedes to slap some new badges on it and sell it as one of their own after they acquired Hanomag in 1970. Production lasted through 1977 under Daimler-Benz watchful care.

Image Credit: CarType

And you thought Volkswagen was the only manufacturer to build a van with skylights! This brochure was for a 1958 Tempo Matador Station Wagon. It featured a 50hp Austin engine that could get 25 mpg while hauling around 14 people! Perhaps one of these could be an affordable alternative to a Samba? It may have never gained the admiration that VW’s van did, but it is refreshing to see one of these Mercedes transporters still on our roads.

Robert J's Hanomag after

Now that Robert’s L306D Diesel bus is back on the road, it gets 25+ mileage and can cruise at 65 mph all day long. It isn’t the quickest thing on the road, but considering it has a bed, table, sink, and even solar panels we are sure the utility makes up for that fact. Like any restoration, Robert’s is always a work in progress, but it’s great to see how far along his has come. If you have or are in the process of reviving a barn find, we would love to receive some occasional updates on your progress! Be sure to send us an email here, with your photos attached. Our thanks to Robert for sharing his bus with us!

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  1. rancho bella

    Robert………a stunner it is. So……I’m daydreaming of this pulling a lightweight trailer loaded with an Elan. Camping at the base of some mountains with good twisties then coming back for a nice camp……….and having strudel and over easy eggs for breakfast.

    What a great looking camper. Did I miss what part of the world this is located?

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    • Robert J

      Kind thanks. I am located in Oakland, CA.

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      • rancho bella

        ohhh, just up the road. I’m in Encinitas.

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    • paul

      Sound great RB, you left out the most important part of any camping breakfast,….BACON…..oh & some nice browned off home fries.

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      • paul

        Robert J…..Very nicely done…

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  2. DolphinMember

    What a stunner is right, and “MAN-SIZED”, too! That is a really cool bus, and the olive paint makes it look classy-cool. And it’s a diesel—love that. I can just see it pulling some small Euro sportscar on a small trailer to somewhere interesting—a track day or even a real race meet. Rancho’s Elan would do the trick.

    Where I live on the West coast of No America I have seen some really neat and unusual diesel vans that I haven’t seen anywhere else, mostly Dacia vans sourced from Eastern Europe I’m guessing, but I have never seen one of these. At 16 seats they are definitely larger than most minivans, which would be a welcome thing if you go touring with a camper interior in place of most of the seats. And the diesel power will make sure it will not cost too much.

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  3. Charles

    Wow, a VW bus on steroids.

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    • jim s

      yes it does look like a bigger vw bus

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  4. Horse Radish

    Stories of inspiration is what I need too.
    I have so many projects and don’t know where to begin.
    This would be nice, as I have a couple of Mercedes Buses.
    These 206/306D were somewhat of a Mercedes Stepchild, as they had these Mercedes diesel motors but everything else was sort of corny from a Mercedes point of view.
    IIRC this even had front wheel drive, and the panels would rust very easily.
    This example turn out alright, because of it’s location.
    Well done.

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    • Robert J

      Hi HR:

      The front wheel drive, along with the other Hanomag engineered components still function flawlessly after all these years. It was engineered rather like an airplane. 40+ years on and running fine…

      I am down to only five cars now with three of them able to go for a nice long drive at this moment. My sincere advice to any Barn Finder is this;
      Do One Thing A Day.
      Do one thing a day, no matter how small. Turn a wrench, locate a part, cut some fabric and wood for your door panels. Do one thing a day and you will move forward like the tortoise to the finish line of success.
      When days pass and your dusty barn find sits there without attention, it doesn’t just sit still, it moves farther away from your goal because it is no longer in your focus. So, one thing a day, no matter how small is the path to completion.

      Like 1
      • Chris

        Do One Thing A Day. What a great philosophy! I love it.

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      • paul

        Yes and reduce the # of projects, I find if I have too much on the fire my head starts spinning & then nothing get’s done.

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      • Jesse Mortensen JesseStaff

        Great advice Robert! It obviously works because what you were able to do with this van is amazing. I’m going to make “one thing a day” my new motto. It seems that if you let a few days go by and your old car just sits, the next thing you know a few years have passed.

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      • Jesse Ybarra

        Hi Robert,
        I need all of the glass for a L206D, but mainly the windshield. I am on hold because it is not found as of now, also please tell me, do you know where I can find the rear window?
        Jesse Ybarra
        602 321-3675
        Please call or text is best

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    • Paul

      I am trying to kick off a renovation of a nice ’72 MB 309-D, twenty passenger van. I really need some of the old sheet metal panels for the rear. I would like to replace the two lower out swinging rear doors, and find parts for the surround of the rear window tilt out glass, as this is where the tin snail has been residing. Any ideas would be appreciated. I have been seeking parts worldwide, but have not yet come upon a source.
      Southern New England

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      • Robert J

        Hi Paul; There was a guy in San Rafael, CA with a big stash of 309D parts available. He may have sold them off though. Perhaps you can get my e-mail address through BarnFinds? I may be able to locate someone.

        Like 0
      • Horse Radish

        we’re in the same boat.
        I got a 1972 MB 309 as well and am getting it ready for the road.
        Care to share resources ?

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  5. jim s

    great job getting this fixed up and back on the road. thanks for sharing

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  6. Robert J

    I found a few more pictures online just now of our bus if you are interested:

    and here it is the one on the right…before paint. The one on the left is one I found in Searchlight NV. Ex CIA owner. My friend bought it for $1,700 and restored it. There are YouTube videos I won’t go on about.

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  7. Harit Trivedi

    Tempo Matador also had a collaboration with Bajaj in Undia and initially built the three wheeler followed by the 4 wheeler van with a two stoke petrol engine (requires a bit of oil to be poured into the fuel tank when refuelling. They also upgraded the models as Matador did. Then they stopped, and had a new collaboration with Mercedes, with whom Tempo Matador also ended up.
    During the hippy wave to India into the 1970’s (stopped when Iran-Afghan border shut, the maximum vehicles driven to India were VW busses, but a few of these Hanomag also came in.
    Cheers Harit

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  8. Han Kamp

    The Tempo vans and pick-ups were also built under license in the UK by Jensen Motors Ltd. of West Bromwich, famous for the Jensen Interceptor and FF.
    Very few people know that Jensen used to build 6 ton trucks and buses under the JNSN brand. Also they did a very interesting compact tractor/trailer unit called Jen-Tug.
    I intend to post a barn find of a Jen-Tug I located in Australia….
    The Netherlands

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    • Robert J

      Han; You win the car guy trivia prize as you found the little known link between my Mercedes 306D and my Jensen Healey. :)

      Like 0
      • Han Kamp

        And that prize is ??
        All kidding aside, these Hanomag/Mercedes vans were a common sight in Europe, most have fallen victim to the rust gremlin or were simply worn out after many years of use. Occasionally the camper conversion can be seen, as these usually did less mileage and were kept by private owners (garaged even).

        Like 0
      • Robert J

        You win one free can of Lucas electrical smoke

        Check out Bill and Penny’s blog called Odd Way Round. They are good friends of ours who travelled around the world in thier 206d. They are English. Great stories…

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      • Horse Radish

        “One can of Lucas electrical smoke ” ?
        I am in. I thought Lucas is known for not doing anything,
        So, smoke off that would be as rare as hen’s teeth.

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  9. Han Kamp

    Thanks for the can but I do not need any more Lucas smoke having owned 5 Jensens :-))
    a 1951 and 1954 Jensen Interceptor 4 litre, 1957 Jensen 541, 1974 Jensen Healey and a 1976 Jensen GT……
    Found the blog, great !

    Like 0
  10. gavin

    my dad had one of these in a panel van version when I was a kid it had a certificate when he bought it from Mercedes celebrating that it had done 1 million miles also confirmed by the service history he used it for several years for his business and sold it and it was used for several years by the next owner and was sold again still running wonder if its still around ??sadly I have no pictures of it

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  11. Jim-Bob

    I love it! It’s like a cool vintage camper van meets survivalist vehicle, all in one fuel efficient package. The olive green can be made to blend into the surroundings, the solar panels mean you never need an outlet, and the diesel engine can be run off the blood of zombies (zombies make the best biodiesel). What’s not to love?

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  12. Bryan Cohn

    Anything advertised as, “The MAN sized Van” had me at Man Sized. Want, just to be different.

    I have this vision of a vehicle like this only with medium duty AWD or 4WD, my daughter off to college (she’s 8) and my wife and I exploring North America, Baja Cali and shipping it and us to Europe to tour the Continent and the UK. Can’t forget the Isle of Mann for the TT and maybe a trip to Cyprus for added flavor.

    In ten years: For Sale, Everything! All Must Go! :)

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  13. Brian

    I’d love to see the look on the guy’s face behind the counter at the “Pull-A-Part” when asked about a rear brake drum for one of these….

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  14. Rachel

    I could use a sweet ride like that for hauling my music and painting gear! Very cool :)

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  15. Erik Hormann

    Hey Robert,
    If you have line on some 206D parts I would love to know. We have one down in King City (1 hour south of Monterey. Check out our facebook

    Like 0
  16. Ashutosh

    Can you post the photos of the interior?? please please! I m dying to see it from the inside

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  17. AJ Joseph

    Hello Robert,

    I have US version 1972 L306D, currently I have been able to find all the parts needed to get her re-outfitted from a fellow in GB, However, I am desperate for a windscreen. He tried to send me three of them in three different efforts: the first the courier company lost, ????, the second was broken upon removal from the donating bus, the third was broken upon arrival here at our NW UPS dist. center!!! I am out 400.00 bucks and he is out three windscreens and some cash as well and, for good reason, will not try it again! If I could at least get the NAG number of the windscreen, US glass folks cannot get anywhere with the numbers out of, yes, W. Germany! At least , not the glass folks I have spoken with have not been able to. Any ideas? All suggestions and leads would be most appreciated!

    AJ Joseph

    Like 0
    • Robert J

      Hi AJ. I just happened to check back on this page today and see your request for a windshield. Where in the US are you located? I have a cracked windshield that I am keeping as a spare, but it sounds like you need it more than I do. My e-mail is inphiknit at gmail dot com. Cheers.

      Like 0
  18. Robert J

    Here is one shot of the interior. There are nine ladies riding to the beach in the bus as this is being taken, so it looks smaller inside than it actually is in this shot.

    Like 0

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