This is a rare, original 1988 Mercedes-Benz T1 Auto Trail Apache Camper, and by the standards of the heavily Instagrammed “Vanlife” world, it’s the four-wheeled equivalent of an antique mansion.
As a full-sized van, the Mercedes-Benz T1 made an ideal platform for camper development. The size constraints of the VW Type 2 or early Ford Transits gave way to ample room and more space for luxuries than many camper enthusiasts were used to.
Fast Facts – The Mercedes-Benz T1 Auto Trail Camper
- Auto Trail is an English company based in Lincolnshire that has been building campers, caravans, and motorhomes since 1982. They’re still in business today, and they’re now the UK’s largest retailer of motorhomes.
- The Mercedes-Benz T1 is a full-sized van that was first released in 1977 with eye-catching styling by Stefan Heiliger. Both petrol and diesel engine options were built, with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) from 2.55 tonnes to 4.6 tonnes.
- A wide range of versions of the T1 were offered including minibus, double cab, cargo van, a flat cargo bed, or a bare rear chassis for custom bodywork.
- The 1988 Auto Trail camper you see here is in original condition throughout, it’s like a 1980s timewarp in some respects, and it’s due to cross the auction block with H&H Classics with a price guide of £10,000 – £12,000, or $11,800 – $14,200 USD.
The Mercedes-Benz T1
The Mercedes-Benz T1 grew to become the best-selling van built by the German automaker up until that point in history. Originally known as the TN for “Transporter Neu” (Transporter New in English), the van had surprisingly handsome styling by German designer Stefan Heiliger.
Many early vans, including those made by Mercedes and fellow German automaker Volkswagen, had been relatively small by modern standards. The T1 design, which was a follow on from the earlier 309 model series, was notably larger and more capable.
Mercedes offered a range of engines including both petrol and diesel with power ranging from the 65 bhp 207 D with the OM616 diesel engine up to the more powerful 105 bhp 310 model with the M102 petrol engine.
A variety of body types were offered including minivans, cargo vans, double cabs, pickup truck-style cargo beds, and an empty chassis rear for custom bodywork which could include ambulances, police vans, and camper vans.
Ultimately the Mercedes-Benz T1 would remain in production from 1997 until 1995 when it was replaced with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. This wasn’t quite the end for the T1 however, as a rebadged version called the Togo Atlas remained in production in the Philippines for a number of years.
The T1 Auto Trail Apache Camper Shown Here
The van you see here is a great example of the campers that made British company Auto Trail as popular as it is today.
It’s based on the Mercedes-Benz T1 310 platform, which was the most powerful variant offering 105 bhp at 5,100 rpm and 134 lb ft of torque from its 2.3 liter petrol engine, mated to the highway-friendly 5-speed transmission.
Up front in the cab you’ll find some decidedly retro upholstery which is matched with similar carpet. The Mercedes dashboard remains unchanged, and it even comes with an original AM/FM cassette deck.
Above the cab there is space for two to sleep comfortably, further back there’s a toilet with a hot water shower and sink. The kitchenette includes two sinks with a tap, a fridge, a microwave, an oven, and twin gas burners.
In the rear of the camper there is a U-shaped sofa settee that can also be converted into additional bedding for kids or guests.
If you’d like to read more about this unusual camper or register to bid you can visit the listing on H&H Classics here. It’s due to roll across the auction block on the 27th of July with an estimate of £10,000 – £12,000, or $11,800 – $14,200 USD.
Images courtesy of H&H Classics
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.