Vario project started

I hope you are not too confused after the photos of Varios in Iceland. I think it is important to realize that the Vario is not the perkiest of trucks only 140hp, not liking much head wind or hills. Hence a light and compact box has an advantage. Look forward to following your progress. mvh.
Last edited:


Adventurer Wannabe
I, and a number of others on this forum have had our Varios "chipped". For me it made noticeable difference. One hill which was a struggle to maintain 70kph is now taken at 90kph (max governed speed). Other have reported even better results.
Thank you for all the input regarding wheels. Will let it sink in until I get closer to a road worthy truck.

I have driven my Vario for about 1000km in Norway when transporting it home after buying it. I am Lucky enough to have factory output of a massive 152 hp/580Nm :) Acceptable but not very fast, so I will probably tune it.
I see there are both ECU remaps as well as plug and play tuning boxes out there.

I think the sensible way to achieve a lightweight (and strong) box are to do a fully self supportive GRP sandwich Construction. I have never understood way people are implementing metals and wood in composite constructions:confused:
Box compactness are good for the aerodynamics, but compromises inside living space, a trade off.

I did make a small sandwich test sample in my garage the other day. Plain woven e-glass/epoxy with an XPS core. I am considering to build the box from scratch myself, either buying sandwich panels and join With profiles in the corners as most companys and people are doing. Alternatively buying the foam, glass and epoxy separately to make my own sandwich structure. This option are more labour intensive, but totally eliminates the leaking points Ian are mentioning as a potential problem. It will also be stronger due to continous fiber reinforcement trough the corners.
Progress have been rather slow, but not much left before the cab can get a new color . Just have to find out where to get it painted
Not very hard to see that there has been a Palfinger behind the cab, dents everywhere. Pulling them out:

My new seats has arrived:

Nice seats for the vario. Were did you buy them? Is the base also new, or is this the original base?
Good luck with the ongoing build.
Bougth the seats at a local dealer, they are Sparco R100sky seats. The base is original Vario, had to buy one since my car had this base only on the driver side, and just some simple seat with Integrated "legs" bolted directly to the floor on the passanger side.
The suspension bases are from Grammer, ordered from a company in Holland.

did my sprinter conversion myself from a Sprinter van, and realized that is a lot of work and it will cost a lot more building from scratch than buying used.
For dash and door panels find an upholstery shop /guy can do the same color as your chairs and will look nice.
For tires my choice is Michelin in heavy duty on/off-road tires by far.
Not a very good ideea to built yourself your box. buy a wohnkabine or a already made box or caravane same dimensions that you need and modify to suit your needs. a lot less complicated, cheaper and a lot faster. So you don't risk getting sick from those chemicals/dust or hurt and you cans start travel sooner. look on a lot of options.
otherwise Vario and Iveco are great choices, MAN or Unimog too big and is worth it only if found a good used one from the army or fire dept. Even like this is difficult to fit a cab-over( due to additional height) sleeping area which is very nice to have.

hope this helps


Thank for Your recommedations, it is crystal clear that there are less complicated, cheaper and faster ways to get on the road.
For me, the most important purpose of undertaking such a build is not to save time or money, but simply a way of enjoing my time of. Looking around this forum, I sincerly hope that this is the case, also for many others:)
I guess the short summary is, buy something ready for the road if you do not enjoy the build process.
you have a very good point we have to enjoy building a vehicle. I enjoyed mine building it, finishing it and travel with it. My goal was to built in order to travel.
Some people , especially those building boats, actually never leave and make their built an never ending story. maybe they enjoy building more than traveling.

What i was trying to say is that is hard to start from scratch. Doing it alone sometimes is not very fun because is too much work. Unless you've done 10 other boxes before and have experience also could be stressful . Imagine not buying your Vario but trying to built it from parts. I'm not sure you could do a better job than Mercedes did. Is the same for the box. Looks easy gluing 6 panels together but it is not. unless you got a lot of help and all the skills involved . I saw on this forum people are building fiberglass boxes in closed areas. Sniffing cancerous dangerous materials is not what i call party time. I've wanted to start travelling in less than 1 year without getting sick in the process if possible thank you.

I said used but it could be done by a specialized company, and you could put the interior together.The way things are you pay materials 25-30 % more than the specialized builder. So probably it will cost you just a little more to get only the box done. What is expensive is the finishing touch due to long hours involved: windows, furniture, electrical, plumbing and so on. And this even it is long is not so complicated.
I'm not trying to be negative just to help but that is how i see it based on my experience. also i like kiss principle these days.
have fun
Last edited:
Ian is right half the enjoyment is looking at a great piece of work you have just completed. Mind you some times it's a good job you forget the hours spent looking at what you are trying to do. I still haven't finished our truck and I doubt I ever will, but we use it and it's a great feeling when you can tell people you made it yourself. Keep up the good work and enjoy the build?
Having spent more than four years build my truck, I can honestly say that it has been good, sometime frustrating, sometimes wondering if I will ever get it finished. When I look at what I started with, go back to my build threads and blog and see how far I've come, it gives me the motivation to carry on. When people come to visit and are genuinely impressed by what I have done, then I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that would not be there if I had just forked out money for other people to build it or just bought a finished one. It is my truck, exactly what I want it to be, with very few compromises. Whilst it has taken me longer than getting it done "professionally" finding true professionals in Australia is very difficult, and based on the disappointments I've had with getting work done on various other project, I did not want to hear the standard excuse for poor workmanship. "Well, that's best we can do", ever again.

I am currently rewiring the truck, circuit by circuit and it is as if I'm breathing life back into it. I did all the head/main/spot/roof light wiring yesterday, and switching on all the lights (there is a lot of them) and it was a great feeling that I had done it. Enjoy your build, it might take longer than you think, and if you get disheartened, take a break, look at what you started with, and then carry on.
Last edited:
Hy again,

2 more things i've forgot and were important to me:
Sprinters and Varios are rusting fast , so untill you put a box you may want to do some king of antirust treatment for the frame and inside the doors. Maybe you knew it.
second and was one reason i did my sprinter conversion was to keep the truck as commercial looking as i could . that allowed me to stay in the cities where i didn't find a camping without getting a ticket. truck was called incognito and i could park it everywhere since was like a commercial delivery van. it was a nice feature.
hope this helps
Last edited: