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Hymer, a successful history of motorhomes

The history of Hymer as a motorhome manufacturer dates back almost fifty years

Retro Glamper. Mikafa de luxe. 50's. Erwin-Hymer-Museum
Retro Glamper. Mikafa de luxe. 50's. Erwin-Hymer-Museum (Museo Erwin Hymer
Although the company as such, if we refer to the construction of caravans, has its origin much earlier, in the last century, around 1925. Herr Alfons Hymer (1897-1973) obtained his diploma of "Meister" (Master) in the art of building buses in 1921 in Ravensburg, Germany. He started working independently in his parents' business, initially specializing in farm cars, but then in 1924 he built a workshop and a house in Bad Waldsee, Germany.

Hymer and the Dornier Delta Bubble Car

After marrying in 1925, Alfons expanded his activities in car repairs. His son, Erwin Hymer, who was born in July 1930, studied mechanical engineering and later joined the Dornier aircraft company in Spain, where he was responsible for the very successful take-off and short landing aircraft Dornier Do-27. Later, still with Dornier, he moved to Munich, where it developed the Dornier Delta Bubble Car. The beginning of a crop of microcars.
Created in the 1950s to bring a cheap automobile to the masses. Its unusual four-seater design (two front occupants and two rear) built by motorcycle manufacturers Zundapp (a famous German manufacturer).

The driving force of the Hymer brand began building caravans and culminated the greatest revolution in the world of motorhomes
In 1956, Erwin Hymer, who died on 11 November 2013 (one of the main builders of the Hymer motorhome empire), made a timely move to join his father's firm in Bad Waldsee, Germany. Alfons Hymer had just bought land from his neighbour Erich Bachem to expand his works. Bachem was not only another man with a history of the aircraft industry, but in 1944/45 he had run the interceptor aircraft project with the help of the "Natter" rocket, but together with Wolf Hirth he had built a small caravan in 1938. Now he had new ideas for a caravan for his own use and had asked Alfons Hymer to build it for him. However, Alfons put his son Erwin in charge of the project, the result brought together the thoughts of Erich and Erwin on the design of caravans, which was greatly influenced by the experience of their aviation industry.

The caravan industry began to take off in Germany in the mid-1930s. After the war, there were more pressing priorities and the construction of caravans was slow, but by the mid-1950's the recovery was under way. The Hymer / Bachem team was quick to appreciate the possibilities derived from their first caravan design and prototype exercise that were ready in 1957.
En 1959 la producción increased to 455 units and it was not long before the magical figure of 1000 a year was achieved. Sadly, however, Erich Bachem did not live to enjoy the meteoric rise of his association with Hymer. He died in 1960 after a serious illness. His friend Armand F. Protzen took over the management of Eriba's marketing organization  (the famous Eriba caravan). From itinerant caravans the next logical step for Hymer was a modern motorhome.

The Borgward B611, among other campervans, was the beginning of  modern motorhomes
Erwin Hymer chose a vehicle with a slightly higher conversion potential than the VW, with its "design limitation" rear engine. His option was the Borgward B611, with front engine, with about 5.20 m long by almost 2 m wide. The lack of space could be supplemented by the use of an elevating roof (as shown in the photo below).

Borgward_B_611_campervan, 1961
 Borgward_B_611_campervan, 1961 (foto: Wikimedia Commons)

In March 1968, a massive fire swept the now much larger works leaving only the manufacturing cabinet and the office building standing. Surprisingly, some production started again after only two weeks, in June it was again in the new buildings that provided 2000 square meters of additional production space.

Hymer France SA was founded in 1970 in Thann in Alsace and transferred two years later to a factory of recent construction in nearby Cernay, where it remains today. With a large part of the caravan manufacture transferred across the border, it was time to expand once more into the motorhome business.