Hymer is perhaps better known for A-class (integral) coachbuilts, but it has always had a strong offer of Luton and low-profile overcab coachbuilts, as well as at least one range of panel van conversions.
It’s a reliable make. Hymer, who recently started producing their own chassis, was voted the best manufacturer: pre-owned motorhomes at the Owner Satisfaction Awards 2022, which you can find out more about in our guide to the best motorhome brands.
Hymercamp and Hymercamp-Swing were available on an earlier incarnation of the Ducato and (briefly) on the ultra-short-wheelbase Fiat Talento.
The launch of the game-changing X/44 Ducato in 1995 gave Hymer the opportunity to redesign and update both ranges, which were squarely aimed at broadening the appeal of
the Hymer brand.
All slept at least four and had four travel seats with high backs, head restraints and three-point inertia-reel safety belts. This could be increased to six if requested at the time of ordering.
Hymercamp-Swing was the brand’s entry-level line-up, and Hymercamp the mid-range offering. Initially, just two Hymercamp-Swing models made it onto the new base – the compact 494 on 1.9TD Ducato and the longer 544 powered by a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated diesel engine. A 2.5TD unit was available as a cost option.
The five-speed manual gearbox was the first in class with a fascia-mounted gear lever, which together with the handbrake on the right-hand side, facilitated unobstructed walk-through from cab to caravan.
The Camp-Swing 494 arrived with a (UK) offside forward double Pullman dinette with the kitchen opposite, ahead of a nearside rear-corner washroom and an offside habitation entrance door.
The Camp-Swing 544 featured a similar offside forward double Pullman dinette, but with a long inward-facing settee across the aisle and the kitchen along the back wall.
By 1998, the range had increased to five Camp-Swings and two Camps. The originals were joined by the 5.54m (18’ 2.25”) Camp-Swing 554, with two Pullman dinettes, and the 644, offering a low-level permanent transverse double bed at the far rear.
The 644G raised the height of the bed to accommodate a full-width exterior-access garage. The 544 and 644/644G were also offered in the more upmarket Camp range.
The 1999 season saw the engines increase in capacity to 2.0-litre and 2.8-litre respectively, and a change to direct injection. Updates for the new millennium included an option to have a rear U-shaped lounge instead of the permanent bed in the 644, and a wider range of furnishing fabrics.
The following year, the 524 and 684 (two Pullman dinettes forward) were added, featuring transverse bunk beds at the far rear.
All models continued until the face-lifted base vehicle was launched. In late 2001, a special-edition range of Hymercamp GTs was launched. These had silver-grey coachwork and a raft of goodies and upgrades.
UK models were (usually) ordered in right-hand drive, but Hymer didn’t ‘hand’ the residential conversion, so the hab door remained on our offside.
All of this generation of coachbuilts were constructed using Hymer’s patented (and much admired) PUAL system. PU is short for polyurethane (foam), AL for the aluminium frame superstructure and inner/outer wall cladding. With thermal insulation equivalent to a 440mm/1’ 5.5” solid brick wall, travellers should remain toasty even in Alpine conditions.
Default base vehicle was the Fiat Ducato, with the Citroën Relay and Peugeot Boxer (rarer) doppelgängers as an alternative. The target market was young families, although in the UK, they were also very popular with empty-nesters and grandparents.
Want to find out a bit more about Hymer models from the past? Then take a look at our first entry into the Practical Motorhome Hall of Fame, the Hymer Caravano on Borgward B611.
What to look out for in a Hymer Hymercamp & Hymercamp-Swing
Generally reliable, although reverse gear can be a bit percussive and fifth gear failures have been reported. However, the repair is straightforward and reasonable, because the gearbox doesn’t have to be removed to do the work. Check for a full service history and ascertain the age of the tyres – the latter are likely to be past their use-by date rather than worn out. Replace the hydraulic fluid and coolant.
As always, check for evidence of water ingress and insist on a full habitation service. Even the youngest will be around 20 years old, so keep at least £1000 in reserve for the inevitable repairs and upgrades of equipment.
Budget for a new smoke alarm and LPG/CO monitor. Note the payload on the Camp 644 is only adequate on the 3500kg chassis, although an upgrade offering better payload was available at time of ordering and remains so today, via a third-party provider.
However, a group C1 driving licence entitlement is required for anything over 3500kg MTPLM.
The 644G if you want to take bicycles, a mobility scooter or outdoor activity equipment. Author’s favourite is the 544 with the larger TD engine.
We would buy on condition and not worry about age, or whether it was a Camp or a Camp-Swing.
What to pay
Fixer-uppers from less than £10,000. Warranted looked-after examples are available from just shy of £16,000. AMC Motorcaravans has a 2003 (so one of the last) HymerCamp C544 for £26,995; just 39,469 miles recorded. Equivalent today: Carado A361, £59,000.
Or you could try…
Hymertramp and Hymertramp-Swing are also Ducato-based, but have a low-profile overcab with lockers instead of an additional double bed. Hymercamp-StarLine share similar motorhome layouts and specification to the Hymercamps, but are underpinned by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
- Hymer Hymercamp and Hymercamp-Swing on Fiat Ducato chassis-cab
- Built 1995-2002 in Bad Waldsee, Germany
- Luton overcab coachbuilt
- Overall length Hymercamp-Swing 494: 4.99m (16’ 4.5”) to Hymercamp 644: 6.80m (22’ 3.75”)
What we like about the Hymer Hymercamp & Hymercamp-Swing
- Hymer cachet
- PUAL construction
- Family-friendly layouts
- Approachable prices
What we don’t like about the Hymer Hymercamp & Hymercamp-Swing
- Conversion not handed for UK
- No automatic transmission option on right-hand-drive models
Still on the lookout for the ‘van for you? Then be sure to take a look at our guide to the best used motorhomes.
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