First time I saw it was 19 years ago in Riccione (italy). A friend of mine held it and we meet in a camping by the sea to spend some holidays. I was curios looking at its shape, so round and funny but when I took a look at the interiors, I was surprised to see a complete furniture so well done in such a small room with four comfortable beds. A propane tank for the engine was on the roof.. funny. It also had a trailer hitch. The old owner wanted to sell it so we found a deal, I bought it around 1999 I believe. It did work pretty good, no big jobs needed so I started to drive it.
I found an old italian motorbikes trailer, it looks great but you don't have to be in a hurry, especially if you pull three motocross bikes at the same time.. I spent several years in Imola and Monza for F1 Gp's, me and some really good friends, what a great time we had. Everybody there in the gp track camping knew us, you find friends quickly with such a funny van. At that time of my life, Estafette was the perfect choice between expense, size and comfort for a few days vacation. More than gp's I used to drive it around mx tracks all around italy for training and races, was confortable for two guys with all mx equipment..
If you add the possibility to step in from rear and side door, it is just so efficent, like a bigger van - you can live in four people without disturbing each other. Inside you can build two beds between the benches and the table, other two beds come off over driver and passenger's heads. Refrigerator 12, 220V and gas operated, great for beer. There's a little kitchen inlcuding two fires and a sink. There's a little shower inside a cabinet with a liftable plate, another sink and a mirror. I also bought a portable wc for quickies.. If you find a 220 plug there's a 220-12DC transformer to run all lights inside and charge two different accumulators for backup.
Last big trip I did before rebuild it was with my wife, or better, my girlfriend at that time. We decided to reach Zeltweg (Austria) for F1 gp in 2002, the we headed to Wien but engine started to go bad. Some cylinders didn't work, it started to coff more and more... Wien got farer and farer then I started to drop some motor oil in the gasoline to make the engine last longer. After a few wonderful days in Wien we started our way back home with our engine very weak, I didn't believe to make it. We often stop on the highway to let it cool and drop some more oil in the gas tank, then I told him (to my estafette..) that if he had brought us home, I would have done him new again just as a newborn, as a swear. After many hours driving, we reached my backyard, it had a really powerful back-fire that blew out the air filter, engine didn't start anymore, it knew it got home, my friend completed his hard job. Then, after a few days, I drop the engine on the ground, pull it out and started to take off al fornitures from the inside. I didn't believe it would have been such a huge and expensive job but now that it is finished, it is priceless to drive it and see people on the road looking at you as if you were on a rare Ferrari... I guess you know what I mean.
To rebuild, I had to bring the engine in Varese where I found an old guy that used to work a lot on r2137 engine. In fact, in his town Gallarate, you can find San Carlo which is a famous chips manufacturer, they used to have several estafette in 70's for deliverys. In the meantime, Most of the glasses, electrical system, water and gasoline tanks, furnitures were taken off. What a series of rusted holes I found under the wooden floor! Wasn't easy to find somebody to help me out with this issue. I am just sorry I didn't look harder for his original paint, it got too bright to me, it should have been more light-browny. Then I started to put back on in order: lights and electrical system, doors, engine and radiators, last all furnitures inside. Such an hard job, I don't count working time by hours but by days... I take it easy. Each job, you do you have to clean, take apart, check, find parts, put back toghether as best as you can. I don't even want to make it quickly, I really like to spend my spare time on this van.
First of all, me and my family went for short holidays so that I could sord out little problems happening after such a invasive mainteinance job (see pics under my van when I lost exaust..), without taking risks to remain broken down too far. Then we hit Corse in 2012 and sardinia in 2013, so fun. Now I drive it every time I can, especially to travel with my kids for bmx racing (my little kid is #6 italian championship) and for sunday trips. We also live in a beautiful place that I suggest you to hit one day, garda lake. Hope to meet you but with my job it will be really hard. I work as technician for an amusement park and other industrial issues concerning automation so not much time left for travelling..