77-year-old adventurer, Gunther Holtorf finally finished a lengthy 26-year road trip, after driving 550,000 miles through 215 countries in his reliable Mercedes 300 GD.
Accompanied by his wife, Christine, Holtorf originally set out many years ago to visit and explore Africa. However, after successfully traversing the continent and conquering miles upon miles of gravel road, the couple decided to continue on their journey. Along the way, Holtorf made sure to document the sites he saw and the people he encountered using the two Leica cameras he carried with him.
In 2010, however, Christine unfortunately passed away from cancer. Following that day, Gunther vowed to continue on with his expedition. Since then, his Mercedes, Otto, has successfully driven through various countries – making its way into the pages of record books in the process.
To make the car more suitable for the adventure, the rear seats were removed and replaced with two custom-made mattresses. Extra storage space was also installed to hold necessary food, clothes and tools needed to travel.
In the process, Otto has seen 6 continents – from Africa, to South America and North America before a visit to Asia, Australia and finally Europe, where the journey ended at Brandenburg Gates in Berlin. He has also crossed 410 borders outside Europe, went in 41 ocean shipping containers, boarded over 100 deep-sea ferries and even endured temperatures of -27 degrees Celsius in Siberia and +50 Celsius near Alice Springs.
Remarkably, the Mercedes was able to endure all these adventures, despite being a completely standard vehicle. Apart from a reinforced suspension, it still has its original gearbox and axles. Under the hood also lies a modest 3-liter diesel engine.
In total, Otto would log over 550,000+ miles on the journey, 155,000 of which were off road. Astonishingly, this translates to the equivalent of 22 times around the Earth, or roughly the distance of Earth to the Moon and back (plus two circles of the world).
With such an impressive career, it then comes as no surprise that the car will now be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart-Unterturkheim. There, it boasts the title of “the car that has visited the most individual countries.”