Mercedes vario.

Darcar

Forum Member
The Mercedes Vario is probably the biggest van body available in this country.
yeah I know you can get library buses or special build vans, but I think the vario is the largest standard body. They are at the heaviest 7.5 ton gross. But can be any where from 5 ton. The engine is a 4.25lt turbo, 5 speed manual is usual, although you can get a automatic, later versions have a 6 speed gearbox. Adblue was also added in the newer trucks. Production stopped in 2013.



They are available in a lot of forms.
The van body is available in SWB, MWB & of course LWB. and in 4 wheel drive if you lucky enough to get one!
There are a few companies that build the vario chassis cab into a bus body, these are usually a lot wider and longer than the van. There always seems to be a lot of buses for sale!

If you’re looking for a vario ( or the older 609,709,711,814 etc ) then you will probably already know that they are built on a truck chassis, in all the T1&T2’s I’v seen I’v never seen one with a chassis problem. They are massively over engineered.
RUST however is a problem, it’s the killer for the steel body vans.... the worst I find is under the windscreen behind the slam plate, and down inside the front wings. Unfortunately they also rot around the bottom of the skirt and the seems, can cause trouble too! But the good news is that it’s only cosmetic, not structural, so repairs can be done fairly easily!

The drive chain is fantastic, the engine is capable of a million miles if serviced properly. The manual gearbox doesn’t give any problems either, the auto can be a bit temperamental! And you’ll have to watch that the diff has a high enough ratio, because some of the buses were built as city buses, and were hop on hop off. These never ment to do high motorway speeds.

Being a heavy lump with the aerodynamics of a brick, your never going to get more than 25 mpg, nearer to 20 mpg. Having said that they are very easy to drive. Forgiving through the gears, I love driving mine..

Good luck finding a good vario van, bus or special. Have fun with your build.
Darcar.
 

trevskoda

Forum Member
My iveco lump was also to low a diff as a ex library bus it was only able to do 45mph at the middle of the green rev band,so i changed that,it can now cruse at 55mph at same revs and return 30mpg.
Buses are usless as the single glass windows run water like a river,best to go for lib busses as you can cut out windows where you want and fit seitz units,the ivecos are all 12v where as the mercs im told are 24v where a voltage drop unit will be required for led lights etc,i have seen a few merc vans here and they are good strong units if coach built rather than the rust bucket vans.
van respray.jpg
hood painted a.jpg
 

wildebus

Forum Member
The Varios do appeal to me as a good solid (if selected carefully) base for a conversion, but most write-ups of people's conversions with them also makes the point of them being very slow and very thirsty, and that is quite off-putting.
 

Darcar

Forum Member
The Varios do appeal to me as a good solid (if selected carefully) base for a conversion, but most write-ups of people's conversions with them also makes the point of them being very slow and very thirsty, and that is quite off-putting.

Yeah I can’t argue with that. We get 22ish mpg. Unfortunately ours still has a speed limiter fitted so max speed is only 56 mph. That’s the same as lorry’s!
Although once the limiter is off I’d expect to have a top speed of 70 mph and cruising speed around 60/65. Which would be plenty for us.
 

Deleted member 4404

As this is such a very important post can admin please make it a 'Stickie' please.

Phil

We are trying to avoid stickies because they block new threads from the top of the page. In the near future we will have a feature that does a similar thing for certain topics.
 

wildebus

Forum Member
ref Vario variants, would it be possible to put up a little summary of the differences between them? I was browsing around and saw (IIRC) 813, 814, 815, 614, etc - and they don't seem to related to age so is this weight? or engine size? not very clear so be great to get this from someone who understands the range.
I also noticed around 2010 or so the front aspect changed - is this related to a signicant change in the Vario, or is it just a cosmetic front facelift?

Cheers
 

Millie Master

Forum Member
Would it be possible to put up a little summary of the differences between them?
Cheers

The Mercedes Vario is probably the biggest van body available in this country.
Darcar.
I have seen a few merc vans here and they are good strong units if coach built rather than the rust bucket vans.


Perhaps Darren and Trevor might be able to put together some kind of all covering, overview summary of these brilliant vans?

Phil
 

trevskoda

Forum Member
I think merc are now trying to do away with the bad rep they had for rust,down side is the price im told has went through the roof.
 

Darcar

Forum Member
ref Vario variants, would it be possible to put up a little summary of the differences between them? I was browsing around and saw (IIRC) 813, 814, 815, 614, etc - and they don't seem to related to age so is this weight? or engine size? not very clear so be great to get this from someone who understands the range.
I also noticed around 2010 or so the front aspect changed - is this related to a signicant change in the Vario, or is it just a cosmetic front facelift?

Cheers
I’m not an expert on the Mercedes t1, t2s or the newer vario.
But I know the numbers ie 709, 508, 814 and all the variants, the first number is rounded up to the tonnage maxim caring weight, while the last two numbers, again rounded up are the horse power, so our 814 would be a 7.5 ton within @136hp.

The early t1s were around in the 1970s then turned into the t2s which finished manufacturing by Mercedes in the mid 1990s, ( although they are still in production in Iran as Merc sold the tooling to them)
The 1st Vario was built in 1995/6 with a 4 litre engine, not much in the way of electrical management, no ecu, simple but reliable.
Then with new regulations they had to improve the emissions! So they introduced the 4.2 turbocharged engine with electrical management system.
Then later ( about 2008/9 ) they gave it an adblue system with a different ecu? Then a facelift, Although I don’t know anything about the latest last version.
I hope this helps.
Darcar
 

Rottmj

Forum Member
Hi everyone, thanks so much for this post, im a newbie that just purchased a Vario 711D Bus to convert, during lockdown, we converted a Vivarro, i know this is a much much bigger project and we appreciate all help we can get. If you have one please please share with us your knowledge.
After a eventful trip to bring her home.
She is here
 

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Darcar

Forum Member
Hi everyone, thanks so much for this post, im a newbie that just purchased a Vario 711D Bus to convert, during lockdown, we converted a Vivarro, i know this is a much much bigger project and we appreciate all help we can get. If you have one please please share with us your knowledge.
After a eventful trip to bring her home.
She is here
Hi, these older T1/2 are fantastic mechanically, the engines are what Mercedes built their million mile reputation on! The manual gearbox is also bulletproof. Luckily they are built on a super strong ladder chassis which lasts forever!

However the body work is shocking the tin work just rots in front of your eyes.
the worst bits ( long list ) are all along the bottom edge, all the seams, and as you have windows all around these too…having said that these areas are a fairly easy to repair if you can weld….. then even worse the under the windscreen and down inside the wings, theses spots are more difficult to repair.

my advice would be get the bodywork solid before you start on the conversion.
You’ve chosen a great vehicle & they will give you many years of reliable service once you sort out the body work.
good luck with your build I’ll be interested in your progress.
Darcar
 

SquirrellCook

Forum Member
As mentioned, strip all the interior panels out first. Deal with the rot before spending any money on it. Btw, it’s not a Vario. Oh, don’t forget to remove the windscreen. It will be rotten where the glass fibre joins the steel.
 

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