The new S-Class is based on a four-space concept: driving area, lounge/dining area, functions area and sleeping accommodation. All models share a common cab with seats swivelling to become an integral part of the lounge, for which there are six optional layouts. A common functions module provides kitchen, washroom and wardrobe facilities. Beds in the S-650 have to be provided by conversions of dinette/couch seating and/or a swing-down cab bed. S-740 and S-820 also have, respectively, a fixed single and a fixed double bed over a rear ‘garage’ which can house outdoor gear, bikes etc. Among a cornucopia of innovations and new ideas in Hymer’s latest flagship range are double floors and a three-way heating system. The former adds just 20cm to height on the Mercedes chassis, accommodates tanks, pipe and cable runs plus the spare wheel and provides much useful storage space accessed via external hatches. The ‘Hymer Combi’ heating comprises under floor warm-water heating, a blown-air system for fast warm-up and a separate blown-air heater for the cab area when driving.
The S-models leave space in their kitchens not only for an oven or microwave but also for a compact dishwasher and, of course, they boast the Electrolux 135-litre fridge/freezer with automatic energy selection. The washroom, with separate shower, has a designer basin in Corian-and-glass, whilst ‘column’ Iights is a designer feature of the motorhome’s sophisticated lighting arrangements. Such details move these Hymers into new territory, challenging the built-to-order models from specialist constructors. And Hymer customers, too, can enjoy onsiderable choice in their new S-Class. The six lounge options offer combinations of conventional double dinettes, couches and single swivel seats; round or oval tables on versatile mountings and with extension pieces and even a sideboard/desk with hideaway freestanding chair. Three models, six lounge layouts and six choices of upholstery add up to a large measure of individuality in this Hymer trio which, both technically and stylistically, are way ahead of any previous model with a Hymer badge.
Prioritising ‘Project Mozart’ did not mean neglecting other sections of the Hymer range. Both Hymercamps and B-Class entered 2001 with double floors, although with no change in external appearance, gain in height or weight, or loss of ground clearance. The miracle is achieved by the use of a low-line Al-Ko chassis, specially developed for Hymer, together with the new plastic, double-skinned and insulated ‘Duofloor’, which also provides excellent underside protection. Meanwhile the B-Star-Line, previously based on the old B-Classic style body and an older design of cabinetwork, gained the rounded body of the full B-Class and also its latest furniture. That lifted the now four-strong series on the Sprinter into a new slot, price-wise, between the B-Class and the new S-Class.
For 2001 the Bad Waldsee factory lists thirty basic models but with all the various floor plan options that stretches to sixty-nine. Cernay builds four Eriba-Cars, two Tramp Swings and a couple of integrated models based on the Renault Master. The choice grows with chassis options, different engines and alternative upholsteries… there’s something to satisfy ninety-nine in every hundred would-be buyers.
Since entering the leisure vehicle business, the combined caravan and motorhome production of Hymer’s German and French factories is in excess of 200,000, of which around 75,000 have been motorised outfits. What’s the reason for that success, for climbing to No.MOTORHOME1 in Europe? It has much to do with Erwin Hymer’s business philosophy. Working for success today as the sure foundation for tomorrow. Bringing the right product to the market at the right time and the right price. Treating his enterprise and its employees like family. And a key factor in creating that ‘right product’ to win the customers is surely that Herr Hymer is not just a maker of motorhomes but also a keen user.
Hymer in Britain
Madisons of Preston were pioneers in the importation of German motorhomes, but before Hymer came Tabbert. Dave Allen, a then director of Madisons, took the initiative by bringing in a Tabbert A-class on a Peugeot chassis as a personal import. The vehicle readily found a buyer and induced Madisons to sign up as official importers of the German marque. The Continental newcomers quickly found a following but then, as a consequence of major changes at Tabbert, the German company decided to cease motorhome production and to concentrate on their principal, and long established, touring caravan business.
Tabbert actually suggested that Hymer might step into their wheel tracks in the UK market and recommended their rivals to Madisons. John Lunt, the principal of the Preston dealership, carried out a thorough assessment of the competition at the 1983 Essen Caravan Salon and concluded that Hymer were far and away the front-runners.
A Mercedes based 590 A-class was brought across a few weeks later for the Earls Court Caravan Show and sold by Dave Allen at that London event. From there the marque has gone from strength to strength in Britain. Well over 2000 Hymers have been sold and Hymer motorhomes have scored numerous successes in the ‘Motor Caravan of the Year’ competition held every June at the Motor Caravan Fair, Stratford-upon-Avon.
In 2000 Madisons Hymermobil Centre was bought by the Brownhills Group and now trades as ‘The Hymer Centre’ of Hymer UK Ltd. It continues to be the sole authorised importer of Hymer motorhomes and centred on the original Preston premises.
How to See Hymer History
Herr Hymer has set up a caravan museum at the factory at Bad Waldsee. This will include not only Hymer products but also much other material from Herr Hymer’s existing collection. The project is being led by Bernhard Jehne, a long time associate and friend of Erwin Hymer who first joined his company in 1957, has held many leading positions in both development and marketing and is now the company archivist. The museum opened in 2003.