Of angular character: the long-nosed L 6500 from 1935

Classic vehicle

In Ernest.

Emil Bölling is one of the most enigmatic collector of old trucks. His passion started with the Mercedes-Benz L 6500. Today, "Ernst" – or Ernest to give it its English name – is the centrepiece of the collection at the Alga museum for commercial vehicles in Sittensen, Germany.

The mobile phone rings. "Bölling speaking... Yes, take that exit and then turn right twice. I thought I'd already emailed it to you. Yes, bye!" A taste of Emil Bölling in action. No sign of a quiet day or even a break. "Home-time? I don't know what that is", he says. The other thing the 82-year-old doesn't have is inhibitions when using modern means of communication. After decades of dedicated effort, the tireless former civil engineer has put together one of the most interesting commercial vehicle collections around.

Flashback: Summer 1936. Emil wasn't even five at the time. His parents' haulage firm in Castrop, Westphalia bought three new trucks. The biggest was an L 6500. Its cab soon became Emil's living room – when Ernst, its driver, wasn't on the road, young Emil would spend every spare minute in there. Bölling's L 6500 delivered sand and fire extinguishing agent to the collieries for fighting fires in the mines. With a reliable, economical diesel engine and a payload of 6.5 tonnes, the truck went on to become one of the cornerstones of the company, paving the way for the later establishment of the Bölling road-building and civil engineering company.

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