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Turn old into new: From fire engine to camper van.

The Mercedes-Benz 310 D parked at a campsite

In the course of her undergraduate work, Nele transformed a Mercedes-Benz 310 D into a camper van. She recorded the process on her instagram channel.

Van conversion as a final degree project.

A warehouse in North Rhine-Westphalia. Drilling noise is constantly heard coming from an old fire engine in the middle of the room. In it you can see the silhouette of a young woman who is eagerly working on the vehicle and seems to be completely in her element. It is Nele Geke. The student has set herself the task of transforming the tomato red Mercedes-Benz 310 D into a camper van. And this in the context of her undergraduate work. Two factors were decisive: A manageable budget and a limited time window.

The Mercedes-Benz 310 D in a workshop

With the conversion of the decommissioned fire engine, Nele has fulfilled a dream.

Two birds with one stone.

Until recently, Nele studied product design at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. Practical projects like this are not unusual here as a final thesis. However, how did she just come up with the idea of upgrading a camper van? “I love to travel, the idea of freedom and have a good basic technical understanding,” explains Nele. She therefore consciously chose this project, which combines the pleasant with the useful: Now she not only has her Bachelor’s degree in her pocket, but also a ready-built camper van for her travels.

  • Nele stands by the passenger door of the 310 D
  • The 310 D from the front
  • The Mercedes-Benz 310 D is parked in a parking lot with the rear open
  • The driver's cabin of the 310 D from the inside

Do-it-yourself know-how pays off.

Nele found the almost 30-year-old Mercedes-Benz 310 D at a dealership in Frankfurt. Originally, the van was used as a fire engine in Austria and seemed to be in good condition. There was still a lot left of its former application. Seats and holders for various tools were mounted inside the vehicle. Nele removed these first. Then she made the Van MOT ready and then began with the camper conversion.

Through her practical studies and her father, Nele has already gained some experience as a craftsman. She was therefore able to carry out a great deal of the work on the van herself. For the more complicated technical tasks, she sought help from various professionals from the automotive industry and her friends and family who actively supported her in the realization of the project.

With patience and improvisational talent to the finish.

Nele needed professional support especially when she unexpectedly encountered rust damage and large holes during the dismantling work. In addition, the age of the vehicle brought further difficulties: “Nothing was really straight, which is why parts of the interior had to be adapted again and again. But somehow I had to keep going, after all, it was my bachelor thesis!” Improvisation talent was in demand now and then: For example, the right sized salad bowl was used as a sink.

View of the kitchenette of the converted van

The finished kitchen unit includes a washbasin, dishwasher, stove and practical storage space.

Upcycling par excellence: Wood creates cosiness.

After three months of hard work, Nele was able to complete the project successfully. And the effort was worthwhile: The van now has a sleeping berth for two people and a small kitchenette. The rustic wood panelling makes the van look cosy and comfortable, but not kitschy, as in Nele’s eyes is the case with other motorhomes. For her first trip with the van she will go to the nearby Netherlands. Once the vehicle has passed its maiden voyage, Nele and her boyfriend want to go surfing in Spain and Portugal.





5.235 m/2.4 m/1.975 m

Year of construction



51,000 km

Gross vehicle weight


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View of the van from the back with the rear open

Lying in bed and enjoying the view - this is only possible in a camper van.

The bed in 310 D

The cosy interior is entirely to Nele's taste.

The 310 D is parked on a meadow with the awning folded out

Nele only stops where she wants.

The 310 D from the side, parked in an alleyway

The 310 D is suitable for both and long trips.

The conversions shown were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked byMercedes-Benz. The image does not constitute an assessment of the supplier and/or the conversions byMercedes-Benz.

Photos: Nele Geke

More Links to explore: @Instagram


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