Home » Huge 30-Seat Mercedes Sprinter Is A Long Boy

Huge 30-Seat Mercedes Sprinter Is A Long Boy

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The Mercedes Sprinter is a popular commercial vehicle in the United States. It can be had as a cargo van, a crew van, or a passenger van that seats up to 15. Those are rookie numbers. You see, in Poland, you can get a crazy-long Mercedes van that seats up to 30.

The van in question is known as the Mercedes Sprinter 29+1, because you’re functionally seating 29 passengers in addition to the driver. It’s the creation of a company called Goluch Service Merc. Since 1989, the company has offered mechanical and coachbuilding services to the Polish market. These days, it makes a living by extending the Sprinter platform to the moon.

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As you might imagine, fitting in all those extra seats takes some serious modification. The modified Sprinter is naturally much longer, with a hilarious overhang behind the rear wheels. In that way, it’s not dissimilar from traditional school buses that you would see across America. One wonders if the Mercedes offers the same suspension characteristics. You know, where the rear seat passengers are somewhat launched into the air whenever the bus traverses a large bump.

30-passenger Mercedes Sprinter van/bus
byu/Drzhivago138 inWeirdWheels

 

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The regular Mercedes Sprinter passenger van, for context.

Inside, it’s set out in such a way that would be ideal for a sports team or any other group of 30 or so individuals. Seating is split, with a row of single seats down one side, and pairs down the other. That means that people with friends can all sit on one side, while the loners can be isolated on the other, with the cool kids snagging the row of four at the back. Harsh, for sure, but if my school experiences were anything to go by, there’s something about buses that inspire toxic group dynamics.

The inside appointments are tasteful… ish. Each passenger gets a “leather-like” bucket seat. They’re upholstered with a red-and-black sporty look, vaguely akin to the race seats that you see on the sidelines of Premiere League soccer games. To be honest, they’d look fine if it wasn’t for the goofy logo slapped on each one. Other than that, the bus features full-length panoramic windows so everybody gets a view outside, and a pair of skylights to boot.

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It’s giving Walmart gaming chair vibes, but it kinda works. via Goluch Merc
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via Goluch Merc

Externally, Goluch made some questionable decisions, at least on the demo model. The bus has a custom front bumper that looks like a reject from The Fast and the Furious. Beyond being a poor fit for a large passenger van, the paint doesn’t help either. Instead of having contrasting black vents, the bodywork was just blasted with maroon paint in its entirety. The grille and even the Mercedes badge got the same treatment. It tells anyone that this is an aftermarket conversion from a hundred feet away.

That’s not to say the van isn’t without appeal, though. It’s a nice clean design that would get 30 people around in relative comfort. With that said, it looks to be configured more for short journeys than longer ones. There’s not exactly a lot of room to get up and stretch, and there are no bathroom facilities either.

It’s probably best suited for journeys of 2 hours or less. If your Polish soccer team has ranked up and is regularly playing fixtures in Austria, you might want to upgrade to a full-sized bus.

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It appears that LuxBus, a Slovakian transit operator, actually runs some of these vehicles in the full 29+1 configuration. In at least one example, the company decided to trim the interior in tan and brown tones, with the coffee color palette complemented by the diamond stitching on the seats.

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Okay, that front end is kind of growing on me. via LuxBus
E Img 191
It’s a maroon diesel van with a plush tan interior. What’s not to like? via LuxBus
E Img 194
Not sure about the lighting effects in the rear, it’s a bit 1970s disco church for me. via LuxBus

Meanwhile, if you’re a European transit operator and you’re looking for your next purchase, you’ll be glad to know that Goluch Merc also offers 26+1 and 23+1 configurations if you’re not ready to stump up the cash for the full 30 just yet.

I’m not sure what’s so compelling about this extra-long Mercedes. From what I’ve seen, a number of people online have found it to be a curio of some note. Perhaps it’s that mix of the familiar (the Sprinter design)  and the unfamiliar (its size). The Internet did fall in love with Longcat, after all, so maybe that’s why this van is appealing, too. In any case, here’s to things that are a bit longer than we’re usually familiar with. They can excite and amuse us to no end.

[Update: As many of you pointed out it’s not a manual. Damn!]

Image credits: Mercedes, Goluch Service Merc, LuxBus.sk

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Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 month ago

That rear lighting makes it look like something Goth Uncle Adrian would use to chaperone all the baby bats to their Birthday Massacre and Epica concerts.

Maciej Winiarski
Maciej Winiarski
1 month ago

First of all, it’s insanely cool to see some cars from my home town and the county surrounding it on a foreign website. I actually see ones like these every day when I commute to work or school.
Secondly, this type of vehicle is pretty popular all around Poland. Much of that is owed to the demise of public transport since the fall of communism, especially bus companies. These are often the only transportation available in the countryside if one doesn’t have a car. Especially if there’s no train line nearby with a half-decent schedule. Not necessarily the 29 passenger version; most of these aren’t as fancy as the pictured ones but still.
Thirdly, even though they’re pretty popular and inexpensive I personally tend to avoid them as much as possible in terms of commuting around the neighboring counties. The comfort is usually pretty awful and the seat pitch makes Ryanair feel like first class. It’s too claustrophobic for a person who is 1/60 football stadium tall (or 6 feet). You do start to wonder what’s gonna happen to your knees and the rest of the skeleton in case of an accident. Especially when cruising 90-100 km/h on a national road. That and drivers which are usually, eh, cavalier, to put it mildly. I feel much better in a train, any train.

El Chubbacabra
El Chubbacabra
1 month ago

Feels really weird to see a topic that’s so, so close to home (this company is located around 20km from my hometown).
Anyway, some of the shorter versions (still longer than a regular Sprinter, so…shorter-stretched?) can be spotted in the area going city-to-city and almost every village in between.

Last edited 1 month ago by El Chubbacabra
Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

This would make a GREAT van down by the river

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
1 month ago

“That means that people with friends can all sit on one side, while the loners can be isolated on the other, with the cool kids snagging the row of four at the back.”

Wow. That brings up some visceral memories of school trips.

The interior would look nice if not for all the Mercedes logos on the headrests and the “Mercedes Benz” text on the luggage racks.

I think the practical use of this thing is as an airport shuttle or something like that. But then, I don’t know what this does better than an actual minibus, like a Toyota Coaster or a Fuso Rosa.

Steve Lee
Steve Lee
1 month ago

This reminds me that one of the accounts I really miss after quitting twitter is @itsvantime. In this case more like @itsvaaaaaaaaaantime.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
1 month ago

I really want to go to Polish disco church.

Radiant13
Radiant13
1 month ago

They’re on a mission from God.

Patrick Szczypinski
Patrick Szczypinski
1 month ago

We bring disco to everything. It’s great.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

Much as I love vans, CDL requirements make >15 people total a hard no.

Speaking of, it sucks how hard it is to get even a non-commercial class A license (at least in Pennsylvania, don’t know if it’s the same elsewhere).
If I wanted to take my friends on a vacation with me in a vehicle with seating for over 15, that’s a non-commercial purpose, but I’d still need a class A. But few places will prepare you for that/provide you a vehicle for the test, despite not needing the formal schooling for a CDL.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

In the two states where I have first-hand knowledge, one can operate a straight (non-articulated) bus with a Class B license. Compared to a Class A license, a Class B requires less instruction and fewer items to remember for the pre-trip inspection exam. The road test is different for each.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

Very true, but I’d like to dream big (maybe I get a toy hauler! Maybe [insert any number of possibilities here]) and I also think it’d just look cool to be class A.

Sam Gross
Sam Gross
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

AIUI, CDL requirements are actually why these vans exist. In some countries in Europe, these can be driven with an ‘ordinary’ CDL, while driving a bus (as opposed to a commercial van) requires a higher-tier license, with a correspondingly higher salary.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam Gross

Interesting! The way I understand it, as soon as you’re carrying more than 15 people at all, or you’re carrying more than 7 people for commercial purposes, you need a class B here. Which hilariously will let you drive a 15 passenger van (probably not that much worse than a typical E-series van, I imagine, even if slightly worse) or, say, a Greyhound bus.

Church
Church
1 month ago

This thing is so dumb. I want it.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
1 month ago
Reply to  Church

This thing is so dumb. I do not want it.

Church
Church
1 month ago

Fair! Probably smarter!

Vert1go749
Vert1go749
1 month ago

Awaiting David to plug these photos into a handy-dandy online angle finder to determine approach and departure angles

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
1 month ago
Reply to  Vert1go749

Pretty sure it has an approach angle if you can get it going fast enough.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 month ago

I feel like this is no longer a van, and has crossed into the bus category, but I honestly don’t think there is anything that delineates between the two.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

I don’t know if it’s official designation, but in my mind vans always have at least one sliding side door, and either doors or a hatch at the back, and whether unibody or BoF, is of a unitary design including the driver area even if there is a divider or wall.

Trucks, even if they look unitary, are typically built from a separate cab and cargo area, and typically have a roll up door, or a swing down or to the side gate.

Busses… are always for passengers, and are mostly categorized as not being one of the other two? They often, but not always have those special bus doors. And they certainly have to seat more than 6 people but I’m unsure of the absolute minimum.

Again, this is my personal feelings, we may need Torch to weigh in.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

I don’t know if there’s anything officially delineating the two either. But I’d say that, given it’s still very much practically and aesthetically based on the Sprinter, it qualifies as a “extra long passenger van”.
“Bus” comes when the inside and outside (even if the front is a Chevy Express, E-series, etc.) are made of flat panels bolted together with basically zero concern for aesthetics.

Clupea Hangoverus
Clupea Hangoverus
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

In principle, the paperwork says this is a bus, because in the EU you need a bus driver license if the vehicle has more than 9 seats. Though there could be some national exceptions. And of course people talk about minibuses, which could mean a van or a bus like this, smaller than a proper big bus…

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

There is no legal distinction between the abomination featured on this page and any other 15-, or in some jurisdictions 12-passenger vehicle.

In my experience, transportation companies refer to a 12- or 15-passenger vehicle as a van. “Cut-aways” are where the body of the van is removed and replaced with a fiberglass-walled box. Cut-aways seat up to 40 passengers. Large capacity vehicles designed for long drives are “coaches.” Large capacity buses with low floors for frequent stops and starts are “transits.”

I don’t know what a transportation company would call the 29+1. Probably the “Merc.” If it’s sufficiently gussied up inside maybe the “wedding bus.”

Last edited 1 month ago by OverlandingSprinter
Tbird
Tbird
1 month ago

I don’t hate it and after having experienced a full size tour bus in Europe I fully understand the size appeal. This actually would have met our needs and been a lot more maneuverable on the narrow roads of Italy.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
1 month ago

What is the engine in these? Here in the states it would be something absurd like a 12.7L I6 diesel but I’m curious what goes in something this big in Europe

Clupea Hangoverus
Clupea Hangoverus
1 month ago

Probably the 3.0 V6 turbodiesel. Standard Sprinter engines, that is the biggest one. It is more about the torque, nobody expects the buses to be quick. Buses are also usually speed limited, 100 km/h typically.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
1 month ago

Makes sense, I wouldn’t think it would need a whole lot more either.

Bucko
Bucko
1 month ago

I don’t think they sell the 3.0 anymore. Even the biggest model (519 in Europe and the 4500 in North America) has a 2.0L diesel.

Clupea Hangoverus
Clupea Hangoverus
1 month ago
Reply to  Bucko

Ok, have not been following closely. Still, I think the one in the pictures is an older generation model. Could have any engine from the lineup at the time. Just that typically ”luxury buses” had the largest engines, but not sure what this is. Genuine conversion from new or hacked together from two crashed sprinters… The interior is not very convincing.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago

I like it. As a former custom van builder, this has potential. Something like this could be really built out into a really versatile and cool van.
But would imagine that parallel parking would be a bit tough.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago

Rip out the seats, throw in a head with a shower, kitchen, and a bedroom at the rear. Put some big comfy sofas at the front and you’re all set.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago

Narrower than a traditional bus would make it much better in a narrow EU town centre. Seems a rather practical concept here.

Rather than the agrarian-derived American yellow school busses which I can only imagine would be land-locked in any busy area.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 month ago

The 29+1 is probably already the size of an actual bus anyway…

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 month ago

That last row of seats is gunna FEEL IT every time you hit some kind of bump. Speed bumps or humps might get you airborne. Exciting.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
1 month ago

This makes those Ram 3500 “church vans” look completely casual.

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
1 month ago

I’ve visited Ireland four times with small groups of friends, touring in 14 passenger Sprinters with similar seating configurations. On 3 of the 4 trips the van had a manual transmission. I remarked to a driver you’d never see a van like that with a manual in the U.S. He was surprised to hear that.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 month ago
Reply to  Marty Densch

Ireland has got to be the greatest country to drive around. What a joy

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
1 month ago

You know, where the rear seat passengers are somewhat launched into the air whenever the bus traverses a large bump.

I used to spend a lot of time in Hiace’s and man, you did not want to be sitting over or aft of those rear wheels.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago

That is some SEEEEEERIOUS rear overhang. If everyone crammed into the back, I wonder if you could make it wheelie?

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 month ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

I was wondering the same thing! If you had… girthy enough friends you probably could.

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
1 month ago

Was thinking the same thing, that shifter didn’t look like it was in neutral.

Steve's House of Cars
Steve's House of Cars
1 month ago
Reply to  rctothefuture

The title caught my attention because for sure here in the States none would be manual. When I’ve traveled in Germany they were all auto too, but it looks like a six speed is still available at least in some markets.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
1 month ago

In the US, manual buses are very rare indeed these days. In the US, if you take your CDL test in an automatic, you’re restricted to driving automatic commercial vehicles.

In the US, a transportation company would not want a manual transmission anything because most CDL B drivers are restricted to automatic transmissions.

Bobfish
Bobfish
1 month ago

Mercedes Marathon
Mercedes Beeeeeeeennnnnz
Mercedes Panorama Photo Error
“The Red Baron”

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