Mercedes 508D – a big vehicle for even bigger adventures.
Julien decided to live the vanlife, so he worked on his Mercedes 508D for a couple of months straight to transform it into a cozy campervan.
Quick facts about your vehicle Mercedes 508D :
Car Manufacturer: Mercedes Modell: 508D Year of construction: 1972 How many seats: 3 Complete weight of vehicle: 3500 kgs How many kilometers: 740k Cylinder carpacity: 3,8L Output of the motor: 82ch Consumption at 100km:15l Driving license classify: B Top speed: 80 km/h Motor fuel: Gazoline Price: 8000 Euros Costs of repair per year: less of 500 Euros Insurance: 50 Euros / month
Tell me a bit about you and tell me, what made you want to start vanlife?
I often travelled by car with my family when I was a little boy and that way of life made it into my head and my heart.
When I was twenty I discovered the psychedelic movement so I started to join a lot of goa festivals in Europe. Many people there had self build camper vans that reminded me on Mad Max. I was like a kid in a funpark, but I was sleeping in a tent all the time. My wish of getting an own camper van grew bigger and bigger.
Two years ago I decided to do just that.
I broke up with my girlfriend, sold my house and started to discover other places to live.
Why did you choose the Mercedes 508D and not a smaller or bigger one?
I chose this camper after trying out two smaller models like a Vanagon T3. With that one it was way easier to park in the city.
So first I travelled with the classic T3 model and then I decided to buy a 4wd to go to more adventurous places like the Arctic circle, Bardenas Reales and so on.
Now I really enjoy the height of my Mercedes 508 D because of the space that it offers.
After purchasing so many different campervans I learned that enough space to cook or stand up straight is very important to me.
So, if not your Mercedes 508D, what camper-modell would you choose too if you could and why?
I would stay with the Mercedes 508 D but the longer model, because I would love to have my bed always open. It’s a little bit annoying to prepare my bed before going to sleep each and every night.
Did you work anything on your Mercedes 508D yourself or did you get a carpenter?
The last owner already customized the van a bit but I needed to start from scratch because of the poor wood work he did.
So I started to transform it my way. I improved the electric installation, manufactured a shower, installed a stove and stopped the leakage.
How long did you work on your Mercedes 508D before you started your trip and what was the hardest part?
I worked on it every day for 2 months. My father has a lot of tools in his house, so I spend a lot of time there building and customizing my van. The hardest part was the mosaic shower and the installation of the stove.
Though I managed to do it properly because I did not want to live and travel without it.
Some people prefer campsites for the night, others love free camping somewhere in the middle of nowhere. What do you prefer and why?
I love both actually. In general campsites are well organized, so I love to take a break there.
I do love free camping in the middle of nowhere as well, because in my opinion it’s awesome to kind of test how limited freedom really is. I don’t pay taxes for a house or anything because I am a fulltime nomad. I do love to camp in nature, feel the freedom, just be.
What is the hardest part about living in a campervan?
The hardest part is when the mechanics do not work as they should. It concerns me when some parts of the van don´t work properly.
It’s not always easy to live like this. Everything can happen, good things and bad things. But that is also part of absolute freedom, right?
What is the best part?
Meeting all kinds of people.
I really enjoy having conversations with them about their way of living and I love discovering the way they arranged their mobile homes.
What I also find very cool is sharing products we find on the road. I love to taste different sorts of tea, coffee, foods. I often invite my camper neighbors to spend some time together.
How do you fund your travels? Do you also work online?
I am a destination wedding photographer. Though I mostly travel by train when it comes to my work. I park my van in a city and take the train or even the airplane when a gig is really far away.
The post production happens in my van again. I always try to find a beautiful and quiet spot to work. Thanks to my 4G connection it´s easy to upload my clients galleries from almost everywhere.
How much money do you spend in a month?
It depends on how often I travel around. But basically I spend less than 300 euros for basic stuff like insurance for the van or health care and also phone and internet bills. I sometimes visit festivals where I spend much more money than usual.
There are more and more people who want to experience vanlife. What is the most important thing you would wanna tell them before they start?
Well, I would say just go for it and have no regrets! If you would like to try out the nomadic way of living then do it. It could turn out to be your favorite way to live.
How long do you plan on living in a van? Do you have a long term plan?
I don’t know actually. I never think about it, but what I know is that I would like to continue living like this for now. Maybe I will try to find a ground of people to build a home for growing food and have a permaculture environment.