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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA

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Old 2 Apr 2023
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Merc Kurzhauber 710

Does anyone please have any views on Merc LA 710 KR as a rtw/camper vehicle in terms of driveability, reliability, repairability, etc? I would love to hear your thoughts and views.
Many thanks
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Old 20 Apr 2023
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I did not travel in one , but once drove a 911 converted BGS troop carrier, with servo steering and "long" axles (so quite the sporty version of yours) around some b-roads in the Odenwald. This was still a very demanding ride. Compared to my leaf sprung 1969 Land Rover, it seemed just more water proof inside, but little to no comfort, very noisy, takes up much of the road (incl opp lane).

Consider that in most parts of the develping world the working trucks are going around 90-100km/h on the high way, where constant 80km/h is a loud experience in such classic truck, which barely does 90km/h maxed out. Unless you fit a myriad of tail lights, slowlyness (or not flowing with the local traffic) can cause dangerous situations. You´ll crawl uphill at barely 60km/h in your pitoresque holiday home, while standing in the way of working people pushing uphill at 85km/h, but cannot pass. I feel embarassed once in a while and use the break down lane to overthink tarvelling in a car, half a century old.

The high load capacity makes it a very stiff ride, not only for your kidneys, unless you load it up to its full capacity, which will slow it down uphills even more. Its a dilemma, all leaf sprung mechanically injected Diesel suffer.

All the above made the truck one of the most reliable, because un-stressed, vehicle of it´s time, which could be abused daily for half a century in heavy duty. This half century of abuse is already two decades of negelctance ago now. Though the parts are all designed to last veeeery long, if serviced frequently, it´s tight service schedule will be a noticeable part of your weekly routine during your trip. While a bit more modern vehicle is fine with just oil and water checks, you´ll greese dozens of nipples, too.

Such a 60-70yr old car is a change of life style, if you are coming from a modern vehicle. If you do not know the truck inside out and you are not a total "Schrauber" who sees fun in oily vehicle maintanance, you´ll be lost anyways. Metric bearings may be sourced around the world, broken pump or diff cases might be welded in every village, but these old Merc parts become pretty rare and were never cheap. You should live in such a car at least for a few months to iron out all flaws, and will recognize, this kind of travel has it´s charme, if you need a conversation piece to get in touch with strangers, but many downfalls too.

They were the first affordable expedition truck for the little man, when they got put out of use as work horses in the 1980s, because Merc and others had better designs later on. So they carry alot of myth and aura, like an old T1/2 VW Bus would have, from the old hippy trail stories of the boomer gen. This truck´s fame made me beg the owner to let me have a short ride, which cured my desire to own one for travel purposes totally.

Edith wants to add: re- consier the entire vehicle category of 7.5t for extended travelling including off road, if you are not carrying tons of hobby gear equipment you cannot live without or are a strong and frequent breeder. The size of such truck will deny you access to many nice spots off the beaten path and its weigh can be a true fun killer, as it will not only sink in badly, but also is prone to flip to the side, where it makes road banks collaps under itself. Most rural roads where you´d need your expedition vehicle are designed and serviced by and for long wheel base pick up trucks in the 3.5-5t class and deal best with a nimble Suzuki Vitara.

For better soft surface capabilzies and a little less revs at cruising speeds, you are obliged to mount these comically huge balloon tyres, which cost a fortune and are not easy to replace. Just a tyre change involves hard work for a yound and strong man and all service is done with much bigger tools, than your girl would touch. Most parts can not be handled without a 2nd or 3rd person and big lifting equipment. You will not just pull out a broken leaf spring, hitch hike to the next village´s black smith and return. Recovery, road toll, ferries, looking for parking in urban areas or a suitable sized workshop, all of this is a multitude more cash and time consuming, than you´d imagine, if coming from a smaller and younger vehicle category.

Don´t get me wrong. I adore these trucks. As a kid in the 1980s one guy still used them to drop coal for heating our school. The entire thing breathes eternal lasting, quality made engineering with a timeless design. I love the full metal dash board and the bakelite switches, then huge yet thin wheel, the stubby nose is an icon for Germany´s economic wonder years and the ruggedness of African rural logistics until today at the same time. Nearly every part is milled or casted in this beast, if not, stamped parts are at least 3mm of proper tank grade steel.

Unfortunately there are only three conditions of these on the market: 1. the home of several generations of drop outs and their dogs, dudes who had to cut corners at service and just used the car up until it´s parked under a tree; these trucks need a deep restauration to get them back to life. 2. the deeply improved/modified and seasoned travel vehicle with 1million KMs on the clock, which has seen the best service possible but also the best part of it´s life. Always ask yourself, why its obviously attached owner wants to sell for what reason, as these vehicels are even unused a better investment than most stocks 3. the collector´s 100% original fire/THW/military/BGS- service truck no-one would touch to break up for a tiny house mod

Ready to go you´ll end up north of 50k€, which would be imho more wisely spent on a Merc 518D 4x4 Vario.

If you are not a total classic vehicle nerd with deep pockets and a strong back, nor some influencer who wants to monetize on the iconic and instagrammable look of this beauty, you are unlikely willing to suffer all the lack of modernity with this for an extended trip.

Last edited by TodoTerreno; 21 Apr 2023 at 09:57.
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