"Yes, our van really is quite an eye catcher", says Joris, summing up the appearance of the blue and white vehicle. The camper van is a rather rare combination of an Hanomag-Henschel F55 body and a Mercedes-Benz 508 base. They have outfitted the wagon to match their own personal taste: in addition to the colorful exterior, the home-made pillows and curtains in the interior create a comfortable atmosphere. The built-in toilet, an outdoor shower and a solar module on the roof enable the couple to camp outdoors for up to three weeks without needing a camping ground.
The van has recently been fitted with an OM 364 engine. "However, we are still searching for a suitable transmission to decrease the speed when we drive up the mountain roads on the Pyrenees so that Lotje and I can talk without having to shout", explains Joris and winks.
With its combination of Mercedes-Benz van and Hanomag chassis, Lotje's and Joris' van truly reflects the history of the Hanoverian engineering company. Hanomag (later Hanomag-Henschel) was founded in 1871 and specialized in manufacturing trucks, passenger vehicles, construction machinery, locomotives and agricultural vehicles. The Series F compact vans were produced between 1967 and 1973. Three years after Hanomag-Henschel was taken over by Mercedes-Benz, the Series F was replaced by the Mercedes-Benz T2, which was produced until 1986.
Since Lotje and Joris bought the van from friends four years ago, they have driven it throughout Europe: from their hometown of Leiden in the Netherlands to Belgium, western France and Spain. "In Barcelona we found a parking right next to Sagrada Família – a rare event with a six meter long van", laughs Joris.
One thing which we really appreciate about this van is the ability to be completely unconnected. Somewhere by the sea, down by the waves, for example – that is an amazing feeling of freedom!
This ability to escape from their constantly connected, now rather stressful day-to-day life as a TV producer and a photographer offers the young couple exactly the type of relaxation which they need to restore their energy and pursue their hobby, surfing. "However, you really have to take the time for it. Three weeks really are the minimum", explains Joris.
Hanomag-Henschel F55 chassis on a Mercedes-Benz T2 508 base
Engine and performance
new engine (OM 364): 116 hp; old engine (OM 314): 90 hp
Displacement, new engine
320,000 km (new engine); 190,000 km (old engine)
Lotje van der Bie, 29, works as a photographer and director, her husband Joris Putman, 31, is a TV producer. They met when they were working as actors: "We played a couple and loved and discovered that it suited us", explains Joris. The couple has been married for two years and lives in Holland.
Photos: Annelien Nijland & Lotje van der Bie