Dethleffs-Logo Back to

The invention of caravanning

90 years of Dethleffs

To find out how it all began 90 years ago, and what the invention of caravanning and a genuine love story have in common, simply scroll down.

A legendary wedding gift


As a junior manager in his father’s whip and bridle factory, Arist Dethleffs was often away on business trips for weeks on end. Inspired by the ideas of his fiancée, Fridel Edelmann, the couple tinkered with ideas to avoid these long periods of separation. “Something like a gypsy caravan in which we can travel together, that would probably be ideal for us,” noted Fridel in her diary. In 1931, as a wedding gift, Arist put their plan into action and built – the camper car. Its maiden voyage took place on Easter Tuesday in 1932 – the early test drives were followed by thousands of kilometres spent travelling together. With their “camper car” the couple had invented an entirely new kind of travel: caravanning! A new form of holiday and leisure that has since attracted millions of devoted enthusiasts.

Well designed from the outset

No stone left unturned

A family man through and through, Dethleffs adapted this new home on wheels to the wishes and needs of his loved ones. After the birth of their daughter Ursula in November 1933, the camper car became a family caravan. The inventor even integrated a bathtub in the vehicle floor so that they could bathe their little daughter and wash clothes.

“It’s wonderful to travel like this – we have everything we need, we have a comfortable house with an exchangeable garden and a constantly changing view out of the window”

Fridel Dethleffs

The young startup started to grow

Demand began to increase

With their unusual vehicle combination, the young Dethleffs family met with so much interest that the first caravans were soon being made to order.
However, their manual manufacturing operation – based in a shed on Arist’s father’s business premises – was soon working to capacity. By 1936 the company Dethleffs Wohn-autobau already had six permanent employees.

The pioneering inventor of recreational vehicles kept tinkering

Unlimited enthusiasm

The Dethleffs family set out to expand the caravanning concept by adding ever more new features. Whether travelling long distances or camping in the winter – they always took their four walls on wheels with them. And of course every short – or occasionally 9,000 km-long – journey also served as a valuable test drive. This allowed them to personally put the quality and functionality of their products to the acid test, and thus develop each new feature on the basis of practical experience.

Enjoy unforgettable moments

The Dethleffs feeling

Those who spend time in our family-friendly caravans soon think of them as a second home. A place of togetherness, harmony and well-being. And a great way to experience nature, while creating unforgettable memories. Each Dethleffs grows on its owners and truly becomes a “Friend of the Family”.

Always keeping pace with the times

Always on the move

To this day, friendship and family have remained at the core of the Dethleffs brand and are embodied in every aspect of the company. And the pioneering spirit of those early days still lives on in all of us. In every moment and in every new vehicle. Bon voyage!

“Arist Dethleffs transformed an idea into a movement. His trailblazing frame of mind lives on in Dethleffs, inspiring millions in the decades that followed.”