The Otten caravan is one of the oldest caravans to come out of the Netherlands.
Brothers Jan Cornelius and Barend Otten built a small caravan in the late 1930’s, but due to the breakout of WWII, it was not until 1956 that they began production of Otten caravans in their bodywork factory in Muntendam, a town located in Groningen, the north easternmost province in the Netherlands.
The Otten caravans had quite an unusual design, having a floor area shorter than the roofline, an irregular shape and small size. Due to their low height, the air resistance was minimal, as was the fuel consumption. And because there was a low centre of gravity, the Otten offered great handling on the road. It was, as factory staff noticed, quite a ride!
Caravans at the time were built for 'sporty people', so extra luxury was considered unnecessary. All Otten vans were built using the same construction method, namely a wooden frame made of ash or elm wood with plywood inner plating. Insulation was made from polystyrene and cotton blankets with an outer covering of Masonite, the Swedish hardboard material. Being extremely strong, flexible and oil impregnated, it was perfect for caravan builders. Most caravan manufacturers used Masonite until the mid-60’s and then switched to aluminium or polyester, but Otten always remained loyal to Masonite. Another Otten trademark, all of their caravans were equipped with lifting roofs.
This same architectural style was implemented up until 1982, when a more traditional design followed. Many different models were produced by Otten, with names such as “Wanderer”, “Scavenger”, “Trecker”, “Cruiser” and “Explorer”. (Original Dutch names - Zwerver, Speurder, Trekker, Kruiser and Explorer). The brothers obviously had an adventurous spirit!
The vans came equipped with various versions of the following - wooden interior, kitchen unit with a sink and 2 burner stove, a wardrobe with mirror, a bench (1 person bed) with storage below, a table with 2 seats (2 person bed) with extra storage.
In the early years, the bodywork was built in Muntendam, after which they were transported to Foxhol (another town in Groningen). Here the furniture was built in and the caravan was then returned to be completed in Muntendam.
The Otten brand continued producing caravans until 1994, however, to this day, there are still large groups of fans of the Otten, having become a real enthusiast's caravan. There are still around 1000 vans of this brand in the Netherlands and many of their owners are members of the Netherlands-based Oldtimer Caravan Club, where they discuss their passion for the Otten.
As one of the most distinctive caravans ever produced, we can definitely see what all the fuss is about!