The workshop of the Hagenlocher car dealership near Stuttgart, Germany is pleasantly bright and spacious. Dozens of small screws and large cylinder pistons are meticulously lined up on different tables. A new B Class drives past jacked-up classics for a tire change. Klaus Hagenlocher takes us to each vehicle and explains their history. He repeatedly reaches for an oily engine part or bends over an open hood, to illustrate his story. Just as he has washed his hands, the electric door to the workshop opens and a 70’s Mercedes-Benz SL polished to a high gloss comes to a standstill. Klaus Hagenlocher continues his explanations. Soon our heads are spinning with the flood of images and information. And so a planned short visit turns into a whole morning, which lets us immerse ourselves in the world of Mercedes-Benz classic vehicles. We are actually here because of a legendary L 319 …
Klaus Hagenlocher made the decision together with his father, Kurt, to rebuild an old L 319 true to the original style as the transporter for his classic cars. As the historic example for the rebuild he had the legendary Silver Arrow Transporter in mind, which achieved worldwide fame as the “Blue Wonder”. In its time, the legendary transporter for the Mercedes-Benz racing department achieved speeds of 170 km/h on the road. It shot past most cars like a spaceship and filled its competitors with awe. Klaus Hagenlocher was looking for an impressive figurehead for his business, but one which would not steal the show from his restored classics. An L 319 seemed perfect. The archetype of vans bearing the star definitely deserves a place in Klaus Hagenlocher’s “Hall of Legends”. Thanks to its almost childlike appearance, this likeable classic also has a large fan base. Ingeniously and perfectly shaped, the two “Blue Wonders” should become brothers in spirit.
Klaus Hagenlocher sits in his office and shows us his documentation folder. Dozens of pictures of wiring, rusty spots and meticulously lined up screws. We gaze at the dazzling blue transporter in the Hall of Legends incredulously. As with the original “Blue Wonder”, the revival of the L 319 began in the scrap yard. Body and frame were provided by a grey platform truck, which was previously used as a construction site vehicle. Underneath the headlights, the fenders were completely rusted away, and the cab roof was pushed in by several centimeters. The diesel engine with 43 hp turned out to be very underpowered. A replacement had to be found. The Hagenlochers found a gasoline engine in a written-off turquoise panel van, which should increase the power to around 68 hp. Unfortunately, this vehicle was also completely unusable. A huge mountain of work lay before Kurt Hagenlocher and his son.
Kurt and Klaus Hagenlocher took a few liberties with the rebuilding of the L 319. The number plate nevertheless bears the characteristic “H” for registered classic vehicles. This raises the question: What are the requirements for an H number plate?
Three years full of creative energy and effort have been channeled into the project. First all rusty areas were removed; entire corners were cut out of the body. Best example: the doorways. These were remodeled and attached to the “healthy” framework. The result both outside and inside is almost perfect. An untrained eye can barely see the modifications. New parts were also welded onto the fender, polished and then dressed with a coat of PU paint (liquid plastic). After many more painting and grinding processes the body shell has become a real pleasure to touch. The frame of the L 319 has been extended and lowered at the back. The family’s old Mercedes-Benz Ponton Cabrio was used as the reference length.
Every single detail has been taken into account in the restoration. From the company logos from the time of the economic miracle on the vehicle side, as well as the large Mercedes star on the radiator grille, to the slight curvature of the platform, which elegantly matches the rounding of the driver’s cab. Klaus Hagenlocher was able to draw on his experience in body design for the extensive rebuild and design measures. Perfectionism is something he was born with. His father Kurt Hagenlocher assumed management of the long-term project.
Thanks to his well thought-out concept, the L 319 is fully usable. Any cables and straps are stowed beneath a flap behind the driver’s cab, and metal rails behind the rear bumper can be pulled forward under the platform to enable the vehicles to roll easily onto it. There is even a tarpaulin frame for the platform. A cable winch pulls the vehicles to be transported effortlessly and safely onto the loading area. Everything on the L 319 should be as authentic as possible. The perfection of the result astonishes its admirers at every outing. It is therefore not surprising that the exceptional transporter has quickly become the star of the show, and has already been reverently presented in a number of classic car magazines.