Nowadays, especially wealthy people buy an island. Here they have to live with the same sea view every morning until they eventually start talking with a volleyball. We are certain that there are far better ways to invest your money. Such as a van vacation along the west coast of the Algarve. Admittedly, the Mercedes-Benz 207 D, which we are covering, offers slightly less space than an island. On the other hand, it provides the greatest possible freedom and every imaginable view within reach of one tank of gas. A vacation on wheels is the perfect idea for everyone searching for a radical contrast to the day-to-day life. That is why our editor, together with his wife and son, packed his luggage and set out on a journey in the camper van. He tells us about the untouched regions in Portugal and a truly special summer vacation.
Naturally, you cannot expect that much comfort and have to take things a little more slowly. But the van is great fun to drive and the scenery is incredible!
”We visited friends in Porto but after the bustle of the city we wanted to relax for a few days by the sea”, he reports. Unfortunately, the available vacation homes were nowhere near as impressive as the range of beaches. At Airbnb, Tim then discovered a yellow camper van called Aurora. In truth, the young family had always dreamt of a camper van vacation. Yet they had never had the right opportunity. This unexpected stroke of luck set in motion the fulfillment of their long-held dream. They were by no means disappointed: “You experience true freedom. The view of the ocean through the rear doors of the van every morning is priceless.” The route took the family of three from Odeceixe to Sagres through the “Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina”. The national park with the tongue twister name is home to some of the Algarve’s most beautiful coastlines. Among tourists, the national park is far less popular than the southern coastal region near Lagos and Faro. It is the ideal location for a relaxing road trip through the Mediterranean flora.
Morning coffee was the only daily ritual retained during the vacation. However, the ocean view gave the coffee a truly unique feeling. In comparison to a classic camper van, the 207 D provides a completely different sense of space. The van is always perfectly ventilated thanks to the two vents in the roof. The windscreen and the open rear doors flood the interior with light. When the table at the rear is lowered, it forms a bed surface spanning the entire width of the vehicle in combination with the seating at the sides. From here you can essentially leap out of the vehicle and onto the sand. In the van, you always feel closely connected to the environment.
Our editor has a few useful tips for anyone who wants to know how to perform their personal morning routine in an old camping bus. “Most of the beaches along the wavy Atlantic coast are surfing spots. That is why there are small bars and shower facilities almost everywhere. Here you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast and freshen up. However, there is generally only cold water and on one rainy day we diverted to a camping ground for an hour.” We hit the road again in the afternoon. Driving the T1 requires strength and dexterity. You notice this the moment you start the engine, which has to be pre-ignited with a separate starter lever. Some winding roads are a tough trial for your arm muscles because the 207 D does not have power steering. 20 km/h in first gear quickly creates long queues of traffic. Nevertheless, the classic van often receives compliments and friendly gestures from passing cars.
The enthusiasm for the T1 is truly understandable. The revolutionary rear-wheel drive and its iconic design have made it a van legend. In addition, the panel van has been used all over the world. Few other vans have been converted into a camper as often as the T1. Today, the Indian manufacturer, Force Motors, still manufactures camper vans with the short-nose design. Mercedes-Benz offered the Westfalia James Cook. The lemon-yellow 207 D is a rather rare model from the Karosseriewerke Weinsberg. With its wanderlust, the T1 is right at home on the Algarve Coast. Because between the 15th and 18th century, numerous Portuguese discoverers set sail from here to settle new continents. When you drive the 207 D along the picturesque West Coast, it is hard to understand why the sailors ever wanted to leave here.
Weinsberg based on the 207 D, straight 4-cylinder engine
65 hp/48 kW
Permittet gross vehicle weight
3,050 mm wheelbase
The 207 D creates a relaxed pace. “80 km/h is fast enough for the van and you need to avoid overusing the battery, otherwise it goes flat quickly. We experienced that ourselves”, reminisces our vacationer. Despite this, he recommends the van trip for everyone who loves adventure and the beach. On Airbnb, Celine and Hugo rent two lovingly converted Mercedes-Benz vans. In addition to the T1, they also offer the predecessor to the V-Class, a Mercedes-Benz 100 D.
Photos: Tim Sproten