Lowly the Lorry. . .

Let the story begin!

We just pulled the trigger on a MB 1120 4x4 Incident Response Vehicle at an auction in Wales, UK with the intent to turn it into a motorhome for an adventuring family.

We dub the truck "Lowly the Lorry".



I hope to adequately record the upcoming madness for the benefit of those who are curious at just how many screw-ups a crazy scheme like this can produce. I'll be the first to admit that this project may not ultimately succeed, but I figure it is worth a try to create some memories, give me more gray hair and serve as another money pit.

I'm currently jumping thru the hoops of transferring money, obtaining insurance, locating a parking/storage facility & relocating the vehicle from the auction house property to storage via email and an 8 hour time difference. Let the insanity begin! If anyone out there has experience doing this sort of thing who would shower me with hints/advice/suggestions, I'm waiting with soap-in-hand.

Cry for help #1: is there anyone in the EXPO universe located near the Cardiff or Bristol area of the UK who has a place to park a lorry like this for a short/medium term while I get my head wrapped around exactly how and where we are going to convert this beast.

Stay tuned, this could be better than daytime television!

- Sheik

nick disjunkt

Unique truck you've bought yourself, looks like a great starting point. The extended cab doesn't look to be a factory job, the long second door and high roof are both unusual. I wonder if the cab still tilts?

I can't help with storage in Bristol unfortunately, but look forward to seeing your prgoress

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nick disjunkt,

The 4 doors and extended height roof were what caught my eye and were a large part in selecting this vehicle for purchase. I'm hoping there is enough headroom in the cab to stow drop-down bunks so the cab area can serve as suitable accommodations for the kids and leave more living space in the camper.

- Sheik


Well done with the purchase. We bought a Merc 1124 4x4 AF about 2 years ago from the same place. Had seen this one advertised, look like a good starting point. The configuration looks slightly better as a starting point than the standard fire engine depending on how much you want to keep versus just remove and replace the back. The painful bits with ours have been no paperwork, Mercedes don't appear to have the spec as Saxon ordered direct as a bespoke order and Saxon as the company that converted our went out of business a while back. Other than that its all good.


Another crazy dude doing crazy stuff. Great. Welcome to the club.

Just one simple advice -if I am allowed to: expect the unexpected, don't forget your family and your friends, be prepared to spend three times the original budget, double (at least) your estimated time for completing the project and never, ever, give up.

Have fun and let us see how it turns out.




New member
Certainly look forward to seeing following this build. What auction site/company are you referring to?
Update with more details. . .

Just got verbal confirmation from the auction house that the truck is fully paid and will be transported tomorrow to its short-term resting place in a nearby countryside caravan park. It was a sizable undertaking to accomplish this from 8 time zones away and hopefully I'm not "counting my chickens before they hatch".

Took 3 wire transfers, numerous emails, boosting my phone plan to make international calls, and lots of early rising to finally get this sorted.

Auction house is Merthyr Motor Auctions. The online bidding/winning process was easy, getting the right amount of money transferred proved more frustrating than difficult as banks on both sides of the pond want their "pound of flesh" and the exchange rate from USD to GBP is like hitting a moving target. I ended up sending more $ as a buffer with the hope that MMA will refund the difference. If you want more info on this process, ask and I'll share.

Finding storage was interesting as the truck is either too large, the facility was too full, they required the vehicle to be insured or a combination of those 3. I finally found a campground/caravan park that stores caravans in the off-season who was willing to take Lowly without insurance, without me onsite at delivery and for a reasonable monthly rate. It is a little farther from the port where I hope to transport via RORO ship, but at this point I'm thankful to have a place for the truck to remain while I wrap my head around the whole exporting process.

I scoured the EXPO forums for UK insurance advice for the non-resident; it is there and a good place for leads, but I finally threw in the towel after making calls and not finding any for my situation. The truck is registered as a fire truck which forced me down the rabbit trail of specialty/historic vehicle insurance houses. Once they learned I was not a UK resident it was "Sorry, but we can't help". I tried some of the EXPO community's recommended insurance houses for traveling in the UK but again the residency issue was a non-starter. From what I've learned thus far, insuring a fire truck in the UK is somewhat difficult; insuring a UK registered vehicle in the UK as a non-UK resident is impossible. I hope one of you will chime in and prove me wrong and introduce me to the right place so I can get this beast insured and driven down to the loading dock!

As I now wade into the fire-swamp of getting this truck out of the UK and into Canada, any advise from those who have done it before would be greatly appreciated.

Oh yeah, the truck is a 1995, therefore no importation into the US for another 2.25 years! I'm in the US so why would I buy an older truck and make this easier than it could be. I have called Canada and received verbal confirmation that a non-citizen from Canada can permanently import. Stay tuned.

- Sheik
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nick disjunkt

Insurance in the UK is typically for a year, you will find find it difficult to get reasonable priced insurance just to drive it to the docks. I would try to find a company who can put trade plates on it and drive it with their own business insurance. Trade plates allow motor business professionals to drive vehicles without tax or MOT legally as part of their business.

Send me a message if you need some help, I'm 100 miles east down the M4

Lowly now sits peacefully at the vehicle storage facility after another wire transfer (cha-ching!) and a ride on a low-boy trailer (cha-ching!). Now I have a little breathing room/time to wrap my head around getting it out of the UK and headed someplace closer to home. Thanks for all of the feedback, well-wishes, offers of help and tips so far!

- Sheik

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IMG_1409 - Copy.JPG
While I wade thru the morass of exporting/importing the truck from the UK into Canada, I can't help but think about starting the conversion process.

I'm hoping to convert the rear axel from dualies to single tires on each side. If possible I prefer to swap the entire axel to a proper single rather than use the dually axel and jury rig the wheels/brake shrouds.

Has anyone on these forums done an axel swap on this type of truck before? Does anyone know of a good source/supplier for this type of endeavor? Any reason why I should stay away from this modification?

- Sheik

nick disjunkt

The Mercedes truck axles do not come in single/dual tyre configuration. Applications which require single tyres just use a wheel offset to suit. I would talk to someone like Helgeth or Vraking to arrange suitable wheels.

I presume that it will not be an issue for a truck of your age, but newer Mercedes trucks with disk breaks sometime cannot easily convert to smaller diameter wheels due to the size of the rotors. I expect that your truck will have drums.

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Kodiak Wrangler
I just bought a 1017AF (I cheated and took the easy way as it was only 35 miles from my house and already had been converted to super singles), so I'll be watching your progress.
It is nice yours is a newer model with much more power. And it is GREAT that it has the winch!
I have a Fuso FG that is ahead of it in line for a camper conversion, as I already have a set of Total Composite (out of Vancouver BC) panels for its conversion.
Is your truck's final destination in Oregon? (I'm in Southern Oregon).



I just read this thread, this truck is a very nice base to buid a camper, we also keep in mind , my wife and me but it was impossible to found one here in Spain, we found some renault magirus, similar but not whit the same quality, my opinion, congrats for the truck and good luck in yor project, I allready build my cabine by myself , in case do you need some info let me know