In the ’50s, the market for campervans was rather meagre. There were hardly any vehicles that met the demands of travel enthusiasts available at an affordable price. With one exception, the Mercedes-Benz L 319 – modified by Mikafa. Originating from the abbreviation for Mindener Karosserie and Fahrzeugbau GmbH, the name Mikafa already stood for innovative and high-quality caravans and campervans. With great attention to detail and skilled workmanship, Mikafa vehicles achieved their iconic status, something that continues to this day.
“The price was fairly steep, but I knew that I would never have a chance like this again.”
As a confirmed classic van enthusiast, Bastian had been searching for an L 319 for almost six years. Then he found the classified ad for his future travel companion “Tassilo.” “At first I could hardly believe it.” An L 319 Mikafa in good condition from the first owner with an MOT seemed like an offer he could not refuse. The same day and 600 kilometers later, he stood facing the blue and white camper for the first time. Without any hesitation, he made the decision and six weeks later became the proud owner of the vintage vehicle.
Mindener Karosserie und Fahrzeugbau GmbH
319 (L 406)
2-liter-diesel, 40 kW
This van was a stroke of luck not only due to its rarity. With its previous owner, who wanted to give it up for reasons of age, the van had experienced numerous adventures. As a photographer, he wanted to go out into the big, wide world after his studies. Produced between 1955 and 1968, the L 319 came from a time when travelling was not as affordable and easy as it is today. But with the rebuilt L 319 by Mikafa, nothing stood in the way of the world trip. As a couple, the two were to explore the most distant corners of the world in the next half-century and document where they ended up. The photographer landed in Malaysia via Israel and India and finally even toured Japan, all in his blue and white Mercedes-Benz L 319.
Bastian did not inherit the Mikafa completely without signs of wear, which was no wonder given the completed world tour. But with a new set of seat covers and minor repairs in the driver’s cab, the cult vehicle shone in all its old glory. Even the paintwork on the aluminium body was still in its original condition. “Tassilo” accommodates up to four passengers who don’t have to complain about lack of space. “I wanted to make long trips to the north more comfortably while accommodating the whole family without having to make big compromises,” says Bastian. With a glass roof and a beautiful cockpit, the Mercedes-Benz L 319 from Mikafa is a real feast for the eyes – both inside and out.
“People smile at you everywhere and point. And that’s because the L 319’s appealing look invites you to do so.”
Some would never use such a collector’s item outside their hallowed halls. However, this L 319 is still used for what it was created for: Family travels. With his family and Tassilo, Bastian continues to hit the road, and the original engine does not let them down. Inspired by his L 319, he describes travelling in his van as a true event. “It is a different way to travel. The journey is often the reward,” he explains. Then, as now, vans with the star were built with great attention to detail. Whether it is the sunroof that slides to the side of the L 319 or the step at the front of the Sprinter – Mercedes-Benz vans always have an ace up their sleeves.
The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.
Photos: Bastian Wriedt