When production of the L 319 van series came to a close at the end of the 1960s, the newly introduced T 2 model series had to follow in some huge footsteps. The L 319, a pioneer in the history of vans, occupied a market segment that had become increasingly important over the years. The successor model, with its enormous potential, also lived up to this role. Instead of staying in the shadow of the successful L 319, the T 2 series vans quickly achieved a cult status of their own with countless possible applications and areas of specialization. Like their predecessor, the L 319, which was produced at the Düsseldorf plant, they are today called “Düsseldorfer” or “DüDo” for short by enthusiasts from all over the world. By the way, this distinguishes them from the lighter T 1 van series, which was built at the Bremen plant until 1984 and is therefore also known as the “Bremen van.”
A big plus of the L 319 was the reliable technology and the robust construction. Like its successor, the T 2 was to continue the success story with the same attributes. But everyone also acknowledged the fact that they had to go a step further. The Stuttgart-based company designed the new fast vans to be specifically modern. Angular and functional, the new design was convincing and heralded the dawn of a new era for the Mercedes-Benz vans division. However, progress on the T 2 was not limited to the modern and functional body.
Panel van, flatbed, minibus
Petrol engines 2.0-2.3 liter, Diesel engines 2.0-5.6 liter (40-96 kW/55-130 hp)
Gross vehicle weight:
In 1967, the year of their market launch, the 406 D and 408 were the first variants of the T 2 to appear on the roads of the world. They were to outperform not only their predecessor, the L 319 but also the competition. Almost as maneuverable as a passenger car, with the cargo space and payload weight of a small truck, the T 2 made life easier for craftsmen and delivery services right from the start. The fire brigade and police also used the powerful and indestructible vans for a wide variety of purposes. As an emergency vehicle of the Berlin police, the T 2 also earned the nickname “Berlin tub.”
Over the years, the product range of the T 2 steadily expanded. With increasingly powerful engines and even more diverse applications such as panel vans, flatbeds or minibuses, discreet changes were also made to the body and interior of the successful van as part of a model upgrade in 1981. Numerous improvements to the dashboard, headlights and noise insulation transformed the T 2 into an even more driver-friendly vehicle. After some 450,000 units of the T 2 had been produced, the successor series T 2 N (N for “New”) saw the light of day in 1986. With the completely new generation, Mercedes-Benz took another significant step towards the future.
Types of construction:
Panel van, flatbed, minibus
Petrol engines 2.3 liter (70-77 kW/95-105 hp); Diesel engines 2.3-4.0 liter (53-100 kW/72-136 hp)
Gross vehicle weight:
Mainly equipped with diesel engines, the powerful Düsseldorfers were given even more power – not only to transport heavy loads but also to get from A to B faster. Introduced in 1986, it was not just the engine that was new in the T 2 N. Even the old design was more angular and functional than comparable vehicles. But with the T 2 N, this approach was pushed even further. The dimensions had also grown subtly, which benefited the loading space volume, but did not result in any loss of driving performance.
In 1996 the T 2 N appeared in revised form under the new name Vario. Thus the internal designations finally became obsolete and gave way to a clear and sonorous name. One thing, however, has not changed in the development of the T 2, T 2 N and Vario van generations. Thanks to the generous storage space and the extensive range of superstructures, numerous companies have used the Mercedes-Benz vans of these model series, then as now. Today, for example, many food truck owners have also accommodated their mobile kitchen and sales platform into the interior of the cargo area. The powerful and extremely reliable engine ensures that hungry customers can be served from near and far. Last but not least, the T 2 and its successors are a popular choice for restaurants on wheels because of their charming exterior. After all, eating is a visual pleasure.
Its reputation precedes the cult van in other industries as well. Even today, in the age of Vito, Sprinter and Citan, some companies still rely on the sheer power and endurance of their T 2s and its successors. For example, the company BUG drain cleaning has a mighty arsenal of heavy tools – no problem for their 816 D. As digital nomads, many vanlifers also like to live in their cult T 2 vans, such as the Dutch couple Michel and Brenda. Toffe Camper specializes in the development and rental of Düsseldorfers as well. After a trip with their 613 D, the Dutch couple Dave and Marjolijn decided, out of love for their “DüDos,” to make this kind of traveling happiness available to other families.
For many years, the T 2 and its successors were regarded as top dogs dominating their van segment. With the steady expansion of the Sprinter model range, the Vario, the last development stage of the T 2 N, was finally released into its well-earned retirement in 2013 – at least in terms of production. The last vehicles to be produced in 2013 will certainly also serve their users faithfully for decades to come. Today, the Sprinter continues the lifework of the cult van series and is now on course for the future with the eSprinter. After all, the T 2 and its successors have produced 630,000 units over 46 years. And those who know that their heritage is in good hands can then hand over the baton with a clear conscience.