Ultimate enthusiasts of the L 319: the Mercedes fans from MB Automobilia.

Spaniard Fran is a collector of rare Mercedes-Benz relics. He and his friends lovingly restore vintage vans like the L 319 or the O 319.

The most ardent Mercedes fan in Cantabria.

Cantabria is known for its rugged coastlines, quiet bays and densely wooded mountains. This "green bit of Spain" is also home to engineer Fran. When the Mercedes-Benz enthusiast drives his W 124 250 TD Estate along the winding roads of his home town, passers-by greet him with a friendly wave: everyone knows him, his car and his passion for rare and collector's vehicles from the brand with the three-pointed star. Already when Fran was a young lad, he was extremely keen on cars and engines. When his father purchased a W 123 300 D in 1980, Fran was able to earn his first bit of driving experience in it as he discovered the local area. Back then, he proudly drove the car through his home town. Over the years, his enthusiasm has become an intense passion. Today, Fran is the proud owner of a huge and lovingly maintained collection of documents, posters, Mercedes stars and model cars which he shares on social media with the international Mercedes fan scene.

Looking for collector's items with a star.

There are even some real vehicles in Fran's large collection: besides his W 124 250 TD Service Estate which has already covered more than 2,000,000 kilometres, he also owns a W 107 500 SLC in great condition. He's restored the car in such a way that you could be forgiven for thinking that it's the last official 500 SLC rally car from Mercedes-Benz. The expert happily tells us that when he drives it, he feels like Björn Waldegaard driving his rally car during the 1980 Bandama race on the Ivory Coast. But his favourite vehicle is the Mercedes-Benz L 319 small van which the brand manufactured between 1955 and 1968, of which he has seven examples. Fran has hunter-gatherer-like instinct as he seeks out the rare L 319 models from all over Spain and avidly checks the classifieds for new ones. Together with two good friends, mechanic Ramses and painter Manuel, Fran wants to restore as many of these cult classics as possible. The three passionate Mercedes-Benz fans call themselves "MB Automobilia".

Passion from Cantabria.

When restoration of Mercedes-Benz vehicles becomes an affair of the heart: engineer Fran and his two friends, Manuel and Ramses, have joined forces for their "My Mercedes-Benz Automobilia" project in Cantabria, Spain. The group has specialised in the restoration of Mercedes Benz classics such as L 319 vans. In this video, Fran tells of his passion for classic vehicles, his love of detail and the daily challenges faced during restoration work.

Looking for collector's items with a star.

There are even some real vehicles in Fran's large collection: besides his W 124 250 TD Service Estate which has already covered more than 2,000,000 kilometres, he also owns a W 107 500 SLC in great condition. He's restored the car in such a way that you could be forgiven for thinking that it's the last official 500 SLC rally car from Mercedes-Benz. The expert happily tells us that when he drives it, he feels like Björn Waldegaard driving his rally car during the 1980 Bandama race on the Ivory Coast. But his favourite vehicle is the Mercedes-Benz L 319 small van which the brand manufactured between 1955 and 1968, of which he has seven examples. Fran has hunter-gatherer-like instinct as he seeks out the rare L 319 models from all over Spain and avidly checks the classifieds for new ones. Together with two good friends, mechanic Ramses and painter Manuel, Fran wants to restore as many of these cult classics as possible. The three passionate Mercedes-Benz fans call themselves "MB Automobilia".

From time to time, Fran takes a look through his historic collection of brochures.

"We're incredibly proud of every vehicle. They're our very own little piece of Mercedes-Benz history."

The next project is the O 319 "Samba-Bus".

Fran and Manuel have been friends since nursery and Ramses recently joined the pair. Together, they spend their spare time working on the collector's items. And it's not an easy task as the vehicles sometimes bear the deep wounds of time. All three taught themselves the necessary specialist knowledge as the restoration of a classic requires a completely different skillset to the repair of a modern vehicle. What's more, these hardcore Mercedes fans only use Genuine Parts. One of the seven L 319 vans has already been lovingly restored by the three friends, who gave it a light-blue paint finish. Despite the classic van not being roadworthy, it certainly cuts a fine figure as a collector's item. Their next project is an O 319 small van – the so-called "Samba-Bus". The friends want to rent this vehicle out for parties and weddings once it is finished. But at the end of the day, the trio doesn't aim to make money with the classics, it's more about giving star-studded wrecks a new lease of life and enjoying the unique feeling which this brings with it

Success is the result of teamwork.

The three friends from MB Automobilia restore Mercedes-Benz classics in their spare time.

Big fans of classic Mercedes vehicles.

Here, Manuel and Fran examine an O 319.

Replica parts are out of the question.

No journey is too far for Fran when it comes to obtaining replacement parts and classic vehicles.

Photos:

Kind Visuals

More links to discover:

MB Automobilia - mymbautomobilia.com, @Facebook

The conversions shown were made by independent third-party providers. The providers and the conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. The photos in no way serve as an evaluation by Mercedes-Benz of the provider and/or conversions in question.

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