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An Epic Land Rover Build, A Crappy Minivan And Some Classic German Food: A Day In The Life Of My Weird Wrenching Project

Even though I’ve spent the past 28 years of my life living and breathing cars, and even though I’m in Germany as part of a vehicle project, the reality is that there’s much more to life than cars. So here’s a look at a day in the life of Project Krassler, my quest to fix and temporarily live in a 500 Euro minivan. You’ll notice that the whole video isn’t entirely about automobiles. There’s some baking!

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Project Krassler, my plan to repair and then road-trip a 500 Euro diesel manual Chrysler Voyager through Europe for a month, is a harebrained scheme with a high probability of failure. I’m not entirely sure why I’m doing it other than that I love meeting readers, I love old cars (especially diesels with manuals), I love a difficult challenge and I love to travel. (Actually, when I put it that way, it seems moderately less foolish).

The reason why I enjoy travel so much is that it puts me in touch with folks from different backgrounds and introduces me to new ways of life. Though I grew up in Germany as a kid, I regularly find myself experiencing new joys of German culture. Among those joys was learning how to cook the beloved Bienenstich under the guidance of an absurdly-talented baker named Josie.

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Illustration for article titled An Epic Land Rover Build, A Crappy Minivan And Some Classic German Food: A Day In The Life Of My Weird Wrenching Project
Photo: David Tracy

As I say in the video above, a Bienenstich is a wonderful cake filled with cream and topped with a crunchy layer of honey-smothered almonds (or in our case, maple syrup-smothered). It’s truly magical.

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Photo: David Tracy

Kaiserschmarrn is also magical. It’s a fluffy, pancake-y delight that contains raisins, is topped with powdered sugar, and is often served with applesauce. It’s an Austrian and Bavarian delicacy and everyone should try it.

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The video also contains a look at the “Old Town” district of Nürnberg, complete with a bustling market and a beautiful old church. I love the “Fussgängerzone”—a pedestrian-only part of the city. As much as I love cars, I do wish the U.S. had more pedestrian-only town squares. They’re just classic.

In my “day in the life of” video at the top of this post, you’ll see that I interview Jacob and Lisa, two extremely badass wrenchers (one a doctor, the other a med student) working to turn a 1997 Land Rover Defender into a mint-condition overlander. That’s their channel, Nepomuks Reise, embedded above. Even if you don’t speak German, you should follow them, because both they and their Land Rover are absolute gems.

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Anyway, from here, I’ll let the video do the talking. The short of it is that I’ve been staying in various little apartments in Nürnberg since early August, walking to my friend Andreas’s house every day, driving his MR2 to the shop that I’m renting with him and his friends, wrenching on my van, chatting with Jacob and Lisa just a few garage bays down, learning fascinating things about food from the master-chef Josie, talking with Andreas’s friend Tim about the concept of Patriotism (an odd concept for some Germans to understand) and whipping around in Andreas’s friend Tobi’s cool JDM Subaru Legacy.

I also learned some German drinking games, I was made aware of the concept of a “Freundschaftsbuch” (a friendship book that Germans make when they’re young students) and I’ve learned far more than I ever want to know about German vehicle inspection.

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Speaking of which, get ready to see what happened when I took my 250,000-mile van through that absurdly strict ordeal. It wasn’t pretty.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad / Roughing It