In 1984 the Venetian explorer Marco Polo gave his name to one of the most renowned collaborations between Westfalia and Mercedes-Benz. The Marco Polo is a conversion of the “Bremer Transporter” and was regarded as THE camper van of its era. The Marco Polo’s high roof is almost three meters high and makes every journey an experience in comfort thanks to the folding bed below. The kitchen with a sink, refrigerator and twin-element cooker makes camping dreams come true.
The Marco Polo is powered by an OM 617 pre-chamber diesel. Five cylinders, 3 liter engine capacity and 88 hp create plenty of sound at 80 km/h. However, the suspension system is easily up the challenge of a journey into the mountains. The Marco Polo remains recognizable thanks to its distinctive beige-brown color and its short nose.
1982 – 1988
OM 617 diesel engine, 3.0 l, 5 cylinders, 65 kW (88 hp)
2,800 kg (208 D)
125 km/h (with OM 617, 65 kW/88 hp Diesel)
What is left of the Marco Polo from the 1980s? In particular, the combination of comfort and compactness distinguished the Mercedes camper van. Every centimeter of the interior was perfectly utilized. Although the features might not sound all that impressive by today’s standards, they were the pinnacle of luxury for demanding camper van vacationers in their day. Mercedes-Benz retains these ideals today. Looking at the modern Marco Polo based on the V-Class, there is little resemblance to the towering “Bremer”. Yet examining both models in the context of their time reveals the same idea: maximum comfort in a practical format.
Photos: Kai Knörzer