Through the vastness of the USA with “Sparky”, the Firetruck.

A couple stands next to an old Mercedes-Benz fire engine

After the decision to discover the USA by van, Laurel and Shaun only needed the right companion. The decision was made in favor of a Mercedes-Benz T1 307 D.

The conversion into a rolling travel companion.

A picturesque landscape somewhere on the northern west coast of the United States. Laurel and Shaun from Santa Barbara, California, stand happily next to their specially converted van: a Mercedes-Benz T1 307 D named “Sparky”. On the horizon, green hills rise up, veiled in fog. But before they could get there, they had to overcome a few hurdles. As a carpenter and furniture designer, Shaun brought all sorts of technical knowledge with him. Thus, the wood interior was a project of his carpenter Gopherwood Design. However, the procurement of some parts for the van was difficult, since the T1 models were never offered on the American market as new vehicles. As a former Ziegler fire-fighting vehicle, the van also has some special fittings, such as the rear tool door instead of a tailgate. This could not be locked at first, so that a lock from a filing cabinet had to be improvised. After a successful conversion, the adventure could begin.

Overall, converting the van was a pleasant experience.
The red Mercedes-Benz Van stops on the side of the road

Short stopover: “Sparky” on the side of the road.

Retrospective and a view to the east.

After the first longer journey, the question arose what could have been done better with the conversion. The bed could have been five centimeters lower so that it could also serve as a seat for larger people. For longer journeys, a real refrigerator would have been more optimal instead of a chest freezer. And the built-in cupboards could have been based on the concept of boat cupboards. But these smaller details do not stop Laurel and Shaun from planning the next trip with “Sparky”. The goal for autumn is to travel the east coast of the USA, because the change in color of the leaves at this time of year is a highlight in itself.

Interior of the Mercedes-Benz van

“Sparky” from the inside: Double bed and fairy lights in the Mercedes-Benz T1 307 D.

The freedom to leave without arriving.

When Laurel and Shaun decided to exchange their daily routine for a daily adventure, the idea arose to travel large parts of the United States. Ultimately, only a rolling home on the move offers the freedom to simply drive off without having to arrive. A former fire engine of the volunteer fire brigade of the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Werl reached Laurel and Shaun in California via a friendly van enthusiast. The Mercedes-Benz T1 307 D turned out to be a stroke of luck. “We had admired Sparky (the van) since we first laid eyes on it,” Laurel and Shaun say enthusiastically. Virtually no rust, very few kilometers on the counter and the rear area was gutted. Therefore, the decision for “Sparky” was incredibly easy.

  • The van parked in front of a warehouse
  • The van is parked on a meadow
  • The Mercedes-Benz Van parked in front of a sunset
  • The Mercedes-Benz van drives along a road in front of a mountain range

“Sparky” and the exploration of the west coast of the United States.

The first part of Laurel and Shaun’s journey with their van “Sparky” covers the whole west coast of the USA. Their route ran from California via Oregon and Washington to the national parks in Montana. The highlights of the tour? Crater Lake in Oregon, the wooded Olympic Peninsula in Washington and the impressive National Parks in Montana. “We could go on forever,” they continue enthusiastically. The T1 307 D was a constant companion and – except for one problem with the radiator – an extremely reliable and comfortable home. The compromise of a rather compressed living space is rewarded by the multitude of fascinating impressions in almost untouched nature.

A typical day on the road.

A typical day with “Sparky” begins for Laurel and Shaun with breakfast and coffee in an idyllic place. After a short walk, the next stage is tackled. The two try not to drive longer than three hours a day so that there is still enough time to stop and explore interesting places in between. Finally, the aim is to find a nice and suitable place to sleep, where they can enjoy dinner in nature and end the rest of the evening in a picturesque setting.

The van is parked in front of the lake

“Sparky” on the shore of a lake.

The van parked in front of a pile of tree trunks

Wood is an essential raw material of “Sparkys” interior.

The logo of the van

“Sparky” as logo.

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: Shaun & Laurel Lynn

More Links to explore: Sparky the Firetruck @Instagram


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