The Beast I Met in the Rockies: That’s One Ungetüm Mercedes

In mid-August of 2018, my son Nathanial, my good friend (and his godfather) Phil, and I went on a camping trip to the Rock Mountain National Park in Moraine Valley, outside of Estes Park, CO.  Hiking was done, campfires were had, my son finally reached his goal of getting to the top of Long’s Peak (14259 feet, 16 mile round-trip hike, nope- ol’ Catfish did NOT do it.  Not just because I’m out of shape. Because I’m afraid of heights.  Yeah, go figure.).  It was good vacation.

While tooling around that week in my buddy’s Ford Escape, we headed up Trail Ridge Road.  Beautiful drive, stunning views, a few finger-dents in the jesus handle from Catfish, but amazing stops along the way to the top.

At one of the stops, we watched this monster pass us.

Road Muscle Radio Mercedes 1113

What the hell is that? I was amused by its appearance, and amazed by its girth on this little road to the top o’ the world.  We and this moosemobile kept ending up at the same scenic overlooks…

Road Muscle Radio Mercedes 1113

So I got up closer and took some pics.

Road Muscle Radio Mercedes 1113

Road Muscle Radio Mercedes 1113

Oh look, touristy decals.

Road Muscle Radio Mercedes 1113

Wait- did one of those travel badges say friggin’ PERU?  SERIOUSLY??  Oh yeah, seriously.  Meet the owners, Irving and Marian.

They’re a super nice, friendly, and kinda’ adorable couple who hail from Austria originally.  They’ve driven across South America, central America, Mexico, the States, Canada, all the way to Alaska and back, and so far have logged over 175,000 miles on the beast since purchase only a few years ago.  They visit places, take pics, and enjoy the ride together.

So what is that hulk they’re wheeling across continents and nations?  Well, we chatted a bit about it, but their English was heavily (and deliciously) accented, and quite honestly- they were there to see the gorgeous Rocky Mountains, not to gab with Gorgeous George here about their ride. So I did some googling at home, and it’s definitely a Mercedes LAF 1113.  The year is some time in the mid-70’s to 1983, when they stopped making them in Germany.   The headlights are the giveaway.  The earlier 1960’s models had a more oval grill shape that encompassed the headlights.

Starting in 1963, the “1113” referred to its weight in tons (first two numbers), and the engine horsepower (last two numbers X10 ).  However- in later years this land-bound kraken kicked out 160+ horsepower from a 346ci (+/-)six cylinder in-line diesel, which is mostly like the power plant under the faded hood here.  If unmolested, it has a five-speed manual transmission.

Irving and Marian bought it in Munich, and had it shipped to Buenos Aires where they outfitted it for their personal travels.  Irving is a welder, and did the custom box on top, the supports, and the  myriad of other custom touches to El Casa de Biggun.

Road Muscle Radio Mercedes 1113

Road Muscle Radio Mercedes 1113

They’ve driven that behemoth on the tiny roads of Brazil and Peru, so here in the Rockies?  Pshaw, ain’t nothin’ but a thing.  Oh what sights they’ve seen…

Keep on truckin’, literally and figuratively, Irving and Marian! And thanks for sharing your time with me.
—Catfish

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