Exploring the Wilderness in Style: The owners of this Mercedes Benz 1222 loved the hospitality of the Middle East

Discover the incredible adventures of a German couple who converted a Mercedes Benz 1222 fire truck into an overland expedition vehicle. Follow their travels through Turkey and Iran, where they experienced warm hospitality from locals, but also encountered some unexpected challenges. Don't miss out on their amazing story and the opportunity to own this unique vehicle available for sale on Expeditionmeister.

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16. Mar 2023
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Exploring the Wilderness in Style: The owners of this Mercedes Benz 1222 loved the hospitality of the Middle East

Overland adventure trucks are made from all sorts of base vehicles, which includes fire trucks. One such Mercedes Benz 1222 is a firetruck that was converted into an expedition truck by a travel-hungry German couple. 

Using this truck, they were able to navigate through Turkey and Iran. Not only did they love adventuring here, but they were also treated like family by the locals. They also got doxxed in Iran and got into trouble with the military there. 

Find out everything about their travels and their Mercedes 1222 truck below:

Note: The truck in question is available for sale on Expeditionmeister

 

The background

We talked to Julian Lenk who is an overland enthusiast alongside his partner. Julian is a retired development project manager at the German Development Bank (KFW). He described his work experience and mentioned how he met his significant other because of it.

“I’ve worked on infrastructure development in developing countries for many years, which include Afghanistan, India, China, Nigeria, you name it. In 2015 I was seconded to Nairobi for 4 years where I met my girlfriend at the German Embassy.”

They decided to “buy an old (1986 make) fire brigade truck and [he] quit [his] job to do the conversion.”

building an expedition truck

“It took me 1.5 years full-time to create our expedition truck with my girlfriend helping out during the weekends. We rented a workshop where I basically lived for 1.5 years, including weekends.” Julian said. 

Julian and his partner are travel vloggers and they document their adventures on their Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/JaM_Mobil 

 

He talked about some of their intercontinental travels:

before building the overland camper

 

“We own the old lady since 2018 and took a year off to travel from Berlin to Cape Town. Our trip from Berlin to Cape Town was an unforgettable experience. Especially the hospitality we received in many places left a permanent impression on us.”

Julian described an instance of this hospitality to us:

“I remember one day we wild camped in Turkey close to a tiny village. The next morning we wanted to continue to our next planned stop. Before leaving an old car with an even older guy inside approached us.” 

“Weaving with his hands the old man signaled us to follow him. We were unsure what this all meant. Had we camped illegally in a forbidden spot without knowing? Unsure of what to do we decided to have faith and just follow the car. “

The old man took them to an “old clay hut where he lived with his wife.” Despite the language barrier, he invited them for lunch and told them all about their life and their grownup children. They were able to communicate through a language app on their phone. 

Julian then described how they left their home with gifts. He added that he wished the Turks who immigrated to Germany were treated as hospitably as he was in Turkey.

overlanding meeting people worldwide

“In the late afternoon, we left their place with a huge basket full of their garden fruits and vegetables and were greeted with a smile and good wishes.”

“That experience made us feel very bad for all the Turkish workers who came to Germany after the second world war to help rebuild the country. We know that they never received the same hospitality in Germany.”

 

After this, Julian and his partner continued their adventure by traveling into Turkey’s neighboring country, Iran. 

While Iran is currently experiencing diplomatic scrutiny, there is no doubt that the country is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich in the world. Julian explained how he had trouble getting a sim card for his phone but was helped by Iranian youngsters. 

“After crossing the border from Turkey to Iran we were in our usual search for a sim card and supplies. We spend some time at a mobile phone store only to learn that sim cards can’t be registered under foreign passports… due to a recent policy change.“

“We were quite disappointed and left the shop. On the street outside we asked some young Iranians if they knew of any alternatives. This question sent us on a two-day journey with these new Iranian friends.”

The young locals didn’t just help the couple get new sims, but they also took them home to eat and introduced them to their family. Julian said that he was awed by how quickly they accepted them and how real they were. 

“They would not give up helping us until we had two new sim cards, had eaten at their place, met their grandparents, and felt at home.”

overland expedition in iran

 

“What struck me most is that they integrated us into their life so easily that it did not feel stressed or fake. We felt welcome and greeted with a lot of curiosity and openness.”

 

However, the couple’s trip to the Persian country didn’t come without some scary moments. He remembered how they were once woken up aggressively in the middle of the night. When he answered the door, they were confronted by the Iranian military. 

“One day in Iran we had no choice but to camp for the night close to a main highway. Around 4 am, we woke up from aggressive banging of some sort against the cabin of our truck.”

“When I opened the window to see what was going on outside I found myself blinded by bright lights from torches. I could only see some guys in camouflage (military-style clothing) and AK47 machine guns.”

The soldiers demanded their documents and thought that they were illegally staying in the country. 

“That scared the hell out of me and I gathered all my mental strength to ask them what they were looking for. The group demanded our passports and we handed them over to them.”

 

However, they soon realized that the German couple had all the paperwork in order and apologized. Turns out that they had been called by some suspicious neighbors who were alarmed by their truck. 

“When they saw our German passports and legal visa they relaxed completely and apologized for the disturbance. You could feel their relief as well as ours.”

overlanding in the middle of nowhere

 

It turned out they were called by some citizens which were very suspicious of our vehicle and were thinking of us as military invaders or spies. When we gave them our tourist visa they were very happy to learn that we are just ordinary travelers wanting to get to know their country.”

We then asked Julian about what he and his partner liked best about their truck. He said that the aura of safety and comfort that it provides is its best aspect. 

“What we really enjoyed most about our truck is the safe haven we experience inside. When the world around us and the impressions were too much we could always retreat into our safe space, which is comfortable and cozy.”

 

Julian added how reliable and tough the truck is: “Part of the safe feeling is the reliability of our truck.”

He recalled how many of their fellow travelers and overlanders often experienced breakdowns, but their good ol’ Mercedes truck soldiered on.

“The trucks Mercedes built in 1986 are extremely durable and we knew we could count on our brave travel vehicle. We have spent so much time planning out all the details which would be important for our trip and that planning really paid off.”

“We met many other travelers on the road who reported issues they had. We were very glad we did not have those problems. Of course, there were some things to fix here and there, however, overall we had little issues.”

stuck in the mud overland camper

getting out of the mud with an expedition truck

 

With such a traveling experience, we just had to ask Julian what advice he’d give new overlanders. 

He said that preparation is the key to a successful trip while laying emphasis on having the right documents when you’re overlanding abroad. He said that these make encounters with the police much easier.

“My advice would be: be prepared for the places you will be going. In terms of paper documentation and equipment, you might need. Also, when you go to remote areas, in so-called developing countries, make sure to have small items to give away.”

“Could be really small things (i.e. pens with the flag from your country on them or small postcards with your picture and a greeting, which you can cheaply print on the internet). In Africa always have some bottles of water and coke in your driving cabin.” 

 

Finally, we had to ask him why he was putting up his lovely truck for sale on our site. Julian said that he just won’t have the time anymore for long overlanding trips in the upcoming days. He says that the truck is too equipped and would be overkill for the small trips he’s about to have. 

“The reason we are selling our truck is that we will not have time to do another long-distance trip in the near future.”

“Driving a truck like ours makes sense in remote places where you are happy to carry your own water and have your own electricity on board.”

This is why he’s going to go smaller and invest in a campervan. 

“We still love the mobile way to travel and can hardly imagine staying in hotels anymore. Hence, for future trips in Europe, we will buy a smaller camper van.”

 

Check out the couple’s adventures on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/jam_prod/

 

About the vehicle

The truck used by Julian and his s/o is a 1986 Mercedes Benz 1222 overland adventure truck. It is a retired fire engine of the Municipality of Weihenzell in Bavaria that’s very well-maintained. It should come with a V6 engine that makes 216-20 hp and a 5-speed gearbox. 

The truck can accommodate 4 occupants and is full of features. It comes with dimmable LED interior lighting, furniture made of high-quality birch multiplex, and a sliding dining table made of oak wood. You get a stove and a Vitrifrigo refrigerator with freezing and cooling available. 

The truck comes with a shower and sink, and a dry separating toilet from Kildwick in a pull-out drawer with odor extraction. You get a 350-liter fresh water tank and a 95-liter grey water tank. There are two ceramic filters in front of the tank and activated carbon filters from Famous Water.

 

There’s a high-performance Marco UP 10 suction pump for taking water from rivers and lakes and a Jabsco Par Max 2.9 service water pump. There’s an additional 2-liter pressure compensation tank as well. An Elgena boiler will provide you with hot water. 

You get many USB-A sockets and laptop charging capability via USB-C. There’s a passively heated rear garage and two 2-kW Autotherm Air 2D diesel parking heaters with the latest control panels and altitude kit. 

All the electronic components are from Votronic and Victron. There’s an intelligent battery management system that automatically shuts down components when the battery charge level is critical, prevents incorrect charging of the batteries, and more.

There’s a 1200W inverter, 450Ah LiFePo4 batteries, and 1.3kW solar panels (with 2 separate MPPT controllers). You get a shore power connection and a wifi router as well. 

 

On the outside, there’s an extendable platform in front of the living room door with stable and easy-to-use scissor stairs and a fold-out step – both for easy access. There are large storage boxes with an outdoor kitchen (gas hob and sink with water connection and shower function). 

If you’re willing to pay extra, the owner is willing to provide the following equipment:

  • 30t rescue ropes
  • Storage boxes for the rear garage
  • Sun sails
  • Radios for driving in convoys
  • Car jacks
  • Sand sheets
  • Grease guns

 

Buy this overland adventure truck here: https://expeditionmeister.com/expedition-trucks/mercedes-truck/jam-expeditionsmobil-mb1222-reisebereit-i448

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