Converting mainstream automobiles into campers isn't a new trend. Companies have been turning vans, trucks, and SUVs into weekend getaway machines for years. Mercedes camper conversions began 35 years ago with the Marco Polo, based initially on the Mercedes 209 D that was then referred to as the Bremer Transporter. Mercedes is celebrating the anniversary with a special model called the ArtVenture.
Mercedes has made various Marco Polo models over the years, and it's still going strong. The automaker released an updated version of this model for 2019, emphasizing its small size and its big focus on quality. It comes with all the staples like seating, a bed, sink, and stove. However, there isn't a toilet or shower. Then again, fitting a shower into the small footprint of a van never made much sense.
For the time, the original Marco Polo packed a lot of the amenities you'll find in today's model. It featured a double bed, rear bench seat, swiveling driver and front-passenger seats, sink, stove, and a fridge. Power came from an 88-horsepower (65-kilowatt) five-cylinder diesel engine making 127 pound-feet (172 Newton-meters) of torque with a top speed of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour). It's a time capsule.
The ArtVenture, though, takes the iconic model and modernizes it for today's consumer. It has all the features you'd expect – many of which are the same as they were 35 years – and adds the latest technologies and features you'll need. It has one fewer cylinder, but more power from its 2.0-liter diesel that makes 236 hp (176 kW) and 369 pound-feet (500 Nm) of torque. The top speed is 134 mph (215 kph).
Camper vans are fun, popular getaway vehicles for those not looking for a luxurious home away from home. Instead, it's perfect for an overnight stay, providing just enough amenities for a short stay away from civilization. You can order one now in Germany for €44,590 ($49,347).