The History of Hymer Motorhomes - page 3

Manufacture of the over cab models was transferred to Bad Waldsee in ’82, when they were allowed to take ‘Hymer’ into their name, and for 1983 there was a trio of new ‘Hymercamps’, I, II and III based respectively on the Transit, Mitsubishi’s L 300 and the Mercedes ‘Bremen’. The next year Hymercamp IV appeared on the Fiat/Peugeot/Citroen base chassis, by now commonly called the ‘Eurotransporter’. The III and the IV versions featured a layout with double dinette and couch forward, rear kitchen and corner washroom – since established as the most popular floor plan in European motorhomes.

More variation came with the change from Bedford to Ford for the van conversions. Out with the ‘Tramp’ name, later to be recycled for semi-integrated models, in with ‘Hymercar’.

For the Ford there was a full-length front-lifting elevating roof and deep ‘picture’ side windows, as favoured in what the Americans call ‘Day Vans’.

However, Hymer’s 1980s affair with the Ford was to be short-lived as the Eurotransporter took over across the company’s range for all but the top S-Class, built only on the chassis with the prestige of the three-pointed star.

With PUAL construction adopted for all coach-built models during the ’80s and the technology well proven as regards reliability, Hymer offered a 6-year guarantee against water penetration for the 1984/85 model year. In the meantime,MOTORHOME1983 had seen the addition of a new flagship to the S-Class and the new 750 marked another first for the basis was a Mercedes chassis with twin rear axles (still rear wheel drive). And new from the French factory for ’82/’83 had been the Eribacar and Eribajet on Renault Trafic chassis; the former was a semi-integrated model with standing height completed by an elevating roof after the style of Eriba caravans and the latter a fully integrated creation.

Hymer’s sensation for the 1986 Caravan Salon was another super-luxurious giant model, the 880. Styling changes from the S-Class saw the word ‘Hymer’ now as a cut-out and air intake in the front panel, a new GRP rear panel and rounded GRP skirt sections. External embellishment was more than matched by interior luxury and the model attracted unlimited admiration but no buyers, it had been just too expensive to produce. Erwin Hymer used the 880 as his personal motorhome for a time. The name cut-out was adopted in the external restyling in 1987MOTORHOME– and remains an enduring feature even now – when Hymers shed their cream-and-brown livery and took on the ‘Playa Metallic’ white/grey/silver. The 880 was a model ahead of its day but now the time has come for some of its ideas, which can be distinguished in certain features of the current S-Class.

A gap in Hymer’s range was filled in 1987 with the first true semi-integrated ‘Tramp’ models on the Fiat Ducato. The ‘Hymer Quartet’ is complete, proclaimed the company’s advertising – van conversions, cabovers, semi-integrated and A-Class. In the same year a new flagship model was launched, the S-Class 700MOTORHOME7.2-metre on the Mercedes 410 D and with a fixed, transverse rear bed. Customers, tired of the routine of bedtime cushion shuffling, were demanding dedicated sleeping quarters. Hymer went further giving them also an en-suite bathroom – the new layout of the B-654 and the S-670 providing a lengthwise double bed with shower, WC and washbasin alongside became an enduring favourite on the Continent and more recently has found its way into British designs.

The eighties had been a very successful period for Hymer with sales of over 25,000 motorhomes and around 85,000 caravans and in the 1989/90 accounting period motorhome production had for the first time topped 5000. The Bad Waldsee manufacturer reinforced the bottom end of its range with the compact (4.62m) and very competitively priced Hymercamp 46 on the Fiat Talento, a miniaturised version of the Ducato, with 3 berth or two-plus-two ‘tinys’ accommodation and still all the essentials for all-year touring.

Better still was to come, the German motorhome market peaked in 1991 with 21,688 new registrations and that year Hymer built 5882 in Bad Waldsee and a further 500 motorhomes in their Cernay factory.

990 was a year of honours for the Hymer company and for Erwin Hymer personally, also the year in which the Company’s status was to be changed. Firstly, Germany’s leading motorhome magazine,MOTORHOME‘Promobil’, had instituted a system of ‘Motor Caravan of the year’ awards based on reader’s votes. Hymer’s B-Class models scored convincing wins in their categories – and have continued to do so up to the present.

At the Essen Caravan Salon Erwin Hymer, who had given over 12 years of service as President of the Verband Deutscher Wohnwagen Hersteller (Association of German Caravan Constructors), was named as the association’s first Honorary President as, at the age of 60, he announced that he was going to be less active in the day-to-day business of his companies.

Now Hymer GmbH was to become Hymer AG, floated as a joint stock company embracing the Hymer, Eriba and Hymer France marques.

Herr Hymer retained a majority shareholding in the company and kept his hands firmly on the reins as chairman of the board. Hans-Jürgen Burkert was appointed managing director. Already in Erwin Hymer’s own hands were caravan and motorhome companies Dethleffs and TEC and shortly he acquired LMC. Since 1990 Bürstner and Niesmann + Bischoff have been brought into the Hymer fold, whilst in 2001 the company took a controlling shareholding in Laika of Italy.

For 1991 Hymer replaced their traditional teak-finish cabinetwork in a couple of Hymermobils. The new ‘Time-Line’ furniture featured elegantly framed locker doors, more rounded lines and a light colour finish with rather a mother-of-pearl effect, it did not find favour with the marque’s conformist buyers but the following year the combination of Time-Line styling with its features such as roller-shutter doors and a new cherry finish was received with acclaim. Meanwhile in France the range of Eribacar models was increased by offering the ‘Eurotransporter’ chassis as an alternative to the Renault and soon to further extend motorhome production at Cernay was the over cab Hymercamp 49 on the Transit. This model enjoyed a successful run in both the French and Scandinavian markets and was rare at that time in offering a bathroom with separate shower cubicle.

After the euphoria of the 1991 motor caravan figures 1992 brought a sharp downturn. Hymer, however, pressed on with new Hymercars on the Ducato van. Bright and modern with red plastic edgings to their cabinetwork,MOTORHOME‘Fantasy’ catered for those wanting storage space and ‘Magic’ for buyers demanding a toilet cubicle. In 1993 Hymervan on the compact 13MOTORHOME1/2 ft long Fiat Talento created a just-for-two but complete package. Such ‘starter’ models were perhaps a wise move as new registrations and production continued their decline until 1995/96.MOTORHOME1993 was the year in which the ADAC conducted their famous crash tests with a small coachbuilt motorhome. Dummies protected only by lap belts, or not provided with adequate head-restraints, suffered severe ‘injuries’. Hymer, who earlier had offered an optional ‘safety pack’ including a 3-point belt for the outboard dinette seat position, responded at the Caravan Salon by showing a cutaway Hymermobil with two 3-point belts and four head-restraints as standard. And no crop of new models this year. Instead the company launched the ‘Hymercard’ to bring to their customers a range of services and privileges.

Quiet times in the motorhome market didn’t mean inactivity behind the scenes. Hymer’s designers and constructors were busy preparing for the arrival at the beginning of 1994 of a new ‘Eurotransporter’, which was going to necessitate the biggest ever model changes in the company’s history. Alterations in the dimensions of the new base vehicles meant that bodies and furniture must change. The opportunity was seized to provide more spacious seating, more storage and better equipped kitchens, on the over cabs larger Lutons. Exterior changes saw the new generation Hymers with smooth white exteriors and new graphics. For the B Class there was a new face, and without the Hymer cut-out in the grille, but for the first time three ‘wipers were fitted to sweep the expanse of the big windscreen.