This 1972 Mercedes-Benz O309D is a blank slate for a camper conversion

I’m a fan of the common Mercedes-Benz, which is why I own a W114. Benz built almost two million of them. Still, it’s the oddball Benz machines that really capture my attention. Such as this 1972 Mercedes-Benz O309D that’s popped up for sale through a Missouri Craigslist post.
The seller says the engine runs strong, and it should considering it’s an old Mercedes diesel. I have no clue which engine is in there, but it likely makes between 60 and 85 horsepower, based on some quick research (*cough* Wikipedia).
The proper name for such an old Benz bus is the T2. Mercedes built them from 1967 on through 1996. Eventually the T2 yielded to the Sprinter, but this one lives on albeit in a bit of a rough state.

What is rough to some, however, could be perfect to others. This is a blank canvas for a fantastic camper build. You could keep it standard, classic and clean inside. Or you could blow the minds of the Overlanding set, if you’ve got a bit more cash to burn. Either way, the finished product would potentially be exceptional.
With an asking price of just $4,000, you have to admit that this one is at least a little enticing.
[Source: Craigslist

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19 responses to “This 1972 Mercedes-Benz O309D is a blank slate for a camper conversion”

  1. Maymar Avatar

    A year or two back, I had found a rough L319 (the O309’s predecessor) for a similar price on our Craigslist equivalent. Since it looks like an inflated VW T2, I had my wife hypothetically sold on it (if not for that pesky lack of parking), but the #vanlife treatment on this would work nearly as well. I think I’ve found how I’m killing a few hours tonight.

    1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      I imagine that must share some handling characteristics with the VW bus, particularly in situations featuring strong side winds.
      Neat looking rig, and something you won’t lose in a parking lot anywhere.

  2. nanoop Avatar

    Didn’t know you had these in North America. They are basically gone in Europe due to their utilitarian utilisation. The last one I saw ten years ago in Germany, I bought a guitar from the owner because he was living in the car, was expecting a baby, and hence, needed space and money.
    The van is gone, the family thriving, and I still have the instrument.

    1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

      There are a handful in the US, some originally brought over in the 70s and the rest grey imported over the years, There was a class C motorhome hanging around my area in the early 2000s and I saw an eBay add for an ex THW double cab. I think the smaller Bremen vans are bit more common.
      The bodywork on this one looks very rough so I would balk at $4000

  3. Alff Avatar

    Currently paying for two apartments in Columbia for my college-aged kids. I wonder if either would care for RV living.

  4. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    Great start for a camper if you don’t plan to go any faster than about 60 mph.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      6.2L swap?

    2. nanoop Avatar

      The legal limit for that weight class in Germany was 50mph. You can reduce the legal max.weight to get into a lighter class, but then you still have the engine/aero pairing..

  5. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    This post makes me lament not buying this one when it was for sale a few nine (?!!) years ago for $1k.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker


  6. mdharrell Avatar

    The only T2 I see around here regularly is this tow truck. I’ve spoken with the owner a couple of times and, as one might expect, he enjoys it but doesn’t find it particularly practical. I do appreciate that the personalized plate reads NVHLOL.

    1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      I know Vanagons have a terrible reputation for reliability, but I guess it can’t hurt to live or work right next to a guy who owns a tow truck, if the VW is your main ride.
      Neat pair!

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        It’s even more convenient than that: The VW is his, too.
        He also has a Lectric Leopard.

        1. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          What was that rhyme?
          Birds of a feather flock together?

      2. Toaster Avatar

        What do you have top do to a VW T3 to make it unreliable? Bunch of buddies own a few of these and apart from rust they are pretty much bulletproof.

        1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
          dead_elvis, inc.

          Unreliability was baked in at the factory, from what I’ve seen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on Vanagons (towards the end of my a/c VW phase, I considered “upgrading” from a ’71 Bus to a Vanagon Weekender), but they seem to require far more regular maintenance than most of their contemporaries. Any still on the road obviously have benefited from obsessive ownership.

    2. David Avatar

      I love the tow truck! Is he selling?

  7. njhoon Avatar

    I did a quick Google on these to see what people are doing to them etc. It seems this one is making the rounds

    1972 Mercedes-Benz 309D Camper

  8. neight428 Avatar

    The interior needs to be used in a movie where a good guy is abducted by some bad guys in a country that doesn’t have a Starbucks.