A true passion project: the 306 D dropside lorry
More than 40 years ago, Frank Steele purchased a 306 D. The British enthusiast has invested a lot of time and money in restoring it. The investment has paid off: today the orange dropside lorry drives up and down the coast of England.
The 306 D creates a sense of nostalgia
Frank Steele rests his right arm on the window sill. The window of his van is wound down, letting in the gentle sea breeze. Frank cruises along the coastal road in Wirral near Liverpool. His adult daughter sits next to him. She is reminiscing about old memories. The evening sun bathes the English coastline in a warm light, creating the perfect atmosphere. Father and daughter talk about old times, reminisce about driving to school together on rainy days, when Frank’s daughter was a young child. The Mercedes-Benz 306 D dropside lorry that Frank purchased in 1974 has always been their loyal companion. He used it for 19 years until the wear and tear became too much. Restoration initially seemed impossible because the 306 D and the necessary spare parts were simply too rare.
Restoring my 306 D is a bit like marrying your ‘one true love’ that you want to stay with for the rest of your life.
The dream of restoration
Yet the restoration ultimately paid off: the Mercedes-Benz 306 D dropside lorry is a true rarity. Frank finally succeeded with the support of friends and an official Mercedes-Benz club: During the 1990s and 2000s, he restored the vehicle in his own garden until it was finally roadworthy again in March 2017. The results are something to be proud of: equipped with a new 60 hp engine, 4.7 m long and with the orange tone of the original paint finish, a deck made of dark mahogany along with Parana pine siding, the 306 D is an impressive sight. And best of all: his Mercedes-Benz van never has problems, says Frank. Would he ever do another restoration project like this? – “No, definitely not. Restoring my 306 D is a bit like marrying your ‘one true love’ that you want to stay with for the rest of your life.”
The restored dropside lorry is an eye-catcher
When Frank and his daughter drive through the streets of Wirral, he receives his reward for the years of work. People stop and gaze after the vehicle. When Frank stops to refuel, small crowds gather around the vehicle and people come over to talk with him. Frank Steele is proud of this. When he looks back on his project, then he is happy to have made the investment: “I would never want another vehicle. There are far too many and that would be boring!”
Photos: Frank Steele