Saturday, 8 October 2011

What’s in a name – When is an Eriba an Eriba?

This is where, for a short while, we get into semantics I’m afraid and where I risk upsetting a few people by trying to answer the question ‘What is an ERIBA?’.
Initially there was only one type of Eriba, they were caravans. Later on as Hymer built their motorhome market presence it was decided to produce an Eriba motorhome and so evolved the Eriba Car and Eriba Jet etc. At first these were definitely Eriba, just one look would tell you. They were, not to be impolite, Eriba caravans tacked on the back of a chassis cab from various van makers, especially Renault. The back half looked Eriba, the inside reeked Eriba and, of course, there was the signature pop-top roof.    
An early Eriba Car campervan on a Renault chassis, with pop-top
However more recently it seems to me that Eriba motorhomes have lost their Eribaness. They have quite simply become Hymer clones. They are Hymer motorhomes with different badges and logos and alternative furnishings, but they are most definitely a Hymer. The Eriba pop-top type roof has gone as have a lot of the little design references. Regrettably they’ve been homogenised, although I’m sure that for their owners they’re much more comfortable and luxurious as a result.
A recent Eriba Jet motorhome, its Hymer heritage evident in its every line with token Eriba badging and coloured panels.

So having upset Eriba motorhomers I’ll now do the same to some caravanners.
Around the middle of the 21st century’s first decade Hymer decided to launch the Eriba Feeling caravan range. This range can be best described as a compromise (and I don’t mean this in an insult in any way) between the traditional Eriba caravan and what has become the accepted normal European straight sided white box caravan. For all the world it looks like a standard Euro type van, but with a lower roofline and an Eriba pop-top. Inside the opportunity has been taken to liven up the décor and modernise the furnishings and layout. 
An Eriba/Hymer Feeling with pop-top
They are excellent vans and if the original type Eriba was dead they’d be worthy successors. However recently I’ve noticed that there’s no reference to ‘Eriba’ in the Feeling’s livery and its brand badges read ‘Hymer’ so for this blog’s purposes I’m sorry but the ‘Feeling’ isn’t an Eriba. I’m sure there’s a pun in there somewhere but I’m not even going to try and find it.
Now before the relatively few Feeling owners (well few in the UK anyway) go apoplectic I’ll hasten to say that a lot of what’s contained in this blog is equally applicable to the Feeling range and a lot of other caravans as well, it’s all good stuff. 
The recently launched Hymer Feeling 325. The layout of an Eriba Puck L inside a gorgeous looking, neatly proportioned Feeling body.
 For our purposes we’re focussing on the Eriba caravan as originally designed and their direct descendants, which have been known for quite a while as the Eriba Touring range. Oh and don’t get confused about the ‘GT’ title used when describing some Eriba Tourings, it seems that they’re virtually all called ‘GT’, well ever since around the year 2000 when the external gas locker poking out the front disappeared and a new more streamlined shape appeared with the gas locker built inside the front of the van. Strictly speaking vans from before then weren’t ‘GTs’ and the updated versions from 2010 seem to have lost the magic two letters as well. Probably a good thing too, as in my mind I can’t help linking the term ‘GT’ with old Mark 2 Ford Cortinas and Ford Corsairs, Mark 1 Ford Escorts etc from the ‘70’s, although of course there’s always the sublime Ford GT40 Le Mans winning cars that redresses the balance.
The iconic shape of the Ford GT40 I just had to include it, what a stunner.
In the next blog we look in more detail at the Touring range

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