Sunday, 9 October 2011

Foundation of a dynasty – The ERIBA Touring range - Part 2

It’s not documented whether either major player involved in the original Eriba concept had a penchant for mythology but as demonstrated by the list of original models they mainly used names linked to mythical beings. This trend has continued to the present day. Model names that have been and gone over the 50 years have included the Titan, the Pontos, the Pan and the Odin as well as the Faun.
The relatively rare 660GT Pontos is the only Eriba Touring model without a rear window. Inside there's a fixed double bed with storage underneath

The Titan has not been in production for many years and is the largest model produced by Eriba. One is currently undergoing restoration in the UK near Blackpool.
The present Touring range can be thought of as consisting of:
Puck               2 berth            3.2m or 3.55m long   No washroom
Familia           2/3 berth         3.66m long                 With or without washroom
Triton              2/4 berth         4.21m long                 With or without washroom
Troll                 2/4 berth         4.71m long                 All with washroom
These represent the basic outline details of the Eriba Touring range, but things get a lot more complicated if you decide to delve further. Within each model range there are a number of different layouts for the internals, which affect such things as window and door placement in the outside frame and body. In addition some layouts had further options for things such as fixed double beds in place of pull-out singles and even factory fitted bunk beds.
The availability of this enormous range came to it’s zenith in about 2005 to 2007 with 32 different models and layouts available. After that Eriba started scaling back, deleting layouts and generally trying to reduce what must have been an expensive to maintain parts inventory.
Over the years there have been special editions to celebrate anniversaries and the like or sometimes just because. Around 2006 the Chili special edition was made available with a red Chili logo on the side and red alloy trim on the body plus all the usual silver plastic bits like hitch cover, sidelight fairings, number plate assembly and wheel arches were painted a glorious chilli red with appropriate upholstery fabric inside the van.
A Troll 552GT Chili Special Edition from 2006 with bright red trimmings.
Towards the end of 2008 Hymer launched another special edition range which turned out to have more far reaching consequences than previous offerings. They commissioned Professor Johann Tomforde to carry out a far reaching makeover of the Touring range to take it forward whilst losing as little as possible of its historic design DNA. The result was the somewhat tritely named (as far as the UK was concerned anyway) ‘Forever Young’. It was limited to only a few models but came as quite a shock to conservative Eriba enthusiasts.
A 2009 Troll 530GT 'Forever Young with the shallower roofline which allowed a taller doorway
Visually the FY models went back to an early Eriba paint palette with an all over  pale grey exterior below the roofline. The Troll body was widened by 4”, giving a bigger washroom, plus more legroom for sleeping across the van. The awning rail was raised 4” and the roof given lower profiles. So overall the van was no taller but the head bashing door could be heightened by 4” as was the lower roof inside. Interior furniture was remodelled with lots of sweeping curves and overall there was a feeling of greater space.
The FY’s ran for 2009 Model Year, but when the Touring range was revealed for 2010MY it was plain that FY had totally influenced the latest designs. In were the interior curves and fittings and the extra height and width, whilst FY’s exterior paint scheme was enlivened with a white top half to the body.
In 2011 the formal Touring range consisted of just four models for sale: one layout of Familia, one Triton and a pair of Troll layouts, but all continuing with the ‘FYised’ styling. In 2012 the range has been increased slightly with two Familia, two Triton and three Troll layouts available.
2010MY Troll 530GT with FYised roofline and the white painted top half of the body
Notice there’s no Puck. The tiny van that can arguably be said to be the very touchstone of the Eriba brand is missing from the list. Over recent years there have always been two Puck versions, the tiny 120 and the larger  Puck L or Super Puck which was a bit longer and managed to cram good length single beds into its small frame. However the costs of producing these diminutive vans were very high as they shared very little in the way of parts with their larger brethren. They were quietly dropped from the Eriba range by Hymer France for the 2009 model year without anyone really realising at the time. 
A late model Puck 120GT, the smallest Eriba, which quietly slipped out of production in 2009
Possibly this was because even more startling news emerged soon after when Hymer announced the closure of the Hymer France factory in Cernay, following substantial losses over a number of years. Much to the disappointment of the French workforce, after a period of four decades production was transferred back to Bad Waldsee.
For the following year Hymer announced their much smaller catalogue of models as they set up a new Eriba production line and got to grips with the nuts and bolts of building the vans again. Whether the Pucks and the other lost layouts ever emerge in the future we can only wait and see.
In the next blog we encounter Morpheus and the ins and outs of sleeping in Eribas.

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