You have most probably come across this iconic image: a black and white photo of a 1950’s Mercedes van with “Einer der Besten” (Only the Best) across the top; and might have wondered the story behind it.
This is the story of the Liebherr caravan L319, showcasing our refrigerators and freezers across West Germany. They called it the “Liebherr van”, our own “shop window on wheels”, driving from Hamburg to Munich and from Frankfurt to Berlin. Let’s find out the whole story behind our iconic van.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to trace the history of Liebherr Household Appliances with the Liebherr iconic van playing a big part in spreading the brand across Germany…
When Mr. Hans Liebherr, founder of Liebherr companies, added appliances to his company’s growing portfolio in 1955, a converted Mercedes Benz L319 became a very special advertising platform for the still burgeoning company. Introducing, the Liebherr van! Originally painted in Liebherr Crane division’s yellow colour, the vans were repainted blue to represent the Household Appliances division. The Liebherr van together with the Fort Taunus Transit vans was sent on a mission: to introduce Liebherr refrigerators across Germany. By 1963, only 52% of West German households owned a refrigerator. There was a lot of marketing and sales work to do!
From Ochsenhausen to different parts of Germany
The Liebherr van travelled from our production facility in Ochsenhausen (Southern Germany), from West to East, from North to south; across the country and all the way up to Flensburg, close to the border with Denmark, and back. Fulfilling the mission of introducing the Liebherr brand to the people across the country.
A visit from the Liebherr van: available upon request
Wholesalers were able to rent the promotional vehicles from the Ochsenhausen office as an effective way to present the latest refrigerator models to their customers. Those were the days before showrooms and the internet existed. Reaching out to our customers and building close contact has always been the Liebherr way.
Converting the L319 into a ‘shop window on wheels’
In order to show off our models in the best possible way, the vans were extensively customised. The truck bed was fitted with special pedestals, giving the appliances on display optimum visibility. Large glass windows ensured customers always had a clear view of the latest Liebherr refrigerators. The tagline EINER DER BESTEN!, “Only the Best!”, was placed on top along with the company logo which has changed little since 1955.
The back of the van was also modified in such a way that the rear window offered the best overall view of our products. The iconic van, L319 was a veritable shop window on wheels! Liebherr vans toured across West Germany until 1968. Putting hundreds of thousands miles on the clock. They also were popular representatives of Liebherr. Older Germans still reminisce about the vans introducing them to Liebherr.
L319: on the road until 1968
After many years on the road and thousands of miles driven, by the late 1960s it was time to say goodbye. The Liebherr van was no longer in keeping with the times. New distribution and marketing channels had opened up. The vans were seen merely as utility vehicles and nobody was interested in keeping them for later generations. To our knowledge, all models were scrapped.
The Liebherr iconic: a collector’s item in 1:50 scale
Though the actual utility vans were scrapped, there were mementos made as it still lives on old advertising materials for Liebherr Household Appliances. And in 2006, a special collector’s edition was commissioned: a 1:50 scale model of the L319 available at the Liebherr shop. It was so successful that all 10,000 models were completely sold out!
We even recreated the iconic van which became the highlight of the Social Media launch in Malaysia last May 2015. The L319 was transformed into a sweet treat of iced sponge cake with Marzipan. Guests were able to take a bite out of our iconic shop window on wheels!
Check out more pictures of our Liebherr iconic van L319 in our gallery:
Mercedes Benz L319 Facts & Figures
- Manufacturer: Daimler Benz
- Production Years: 1955 – 1963
- Engine: Mercedes M121 single overhead camshaft inline four-cylinder, 75 hp
- Engine Displacement: 1.9 l / 1897 cm³ / 116 CID
- Maximum Speed: 59 mph / 95 km/h (until 1960 model year), 62 mph / 100 km/h (from 1961 model year)
- Transmission: Manual 4 Speed + Reverse
- Gross Vehicle Weight: 4 tons / 3600 kg
- Total number sold: around 140.000
Maybe you or a family member visited or were stationed in Germany in the 1950s and 1960s and caught a glimpse of our Liebherr iconic vans? If you have any photographs or film material you would be happy to share, please contact us: [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!