With more than half a century under its belt, the instantly recognisable Eriba caravan brand has been declared an ‘icon’. Like the equally iconic Airstream from America, the design of this German stalwart has changed very little since its launch in the late 1950s.

The US brand may have 30 years on the Eriba, but the ethos of Airstream’s inventor, Wally Byam, can be applied to its European counterpart: “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements.”

The Eriba Troll is Hymer’s original caravan and is the result of a collaboration in 1957 between Erwin Hymer and aircraft engineer Erich Bachem, who gave his name to the brand.

There are now five models under the Eriba brand, with the Touring Troll being the largest. The basic structure of a tubular steel skeleton, good insulation and an aluminium body remains pretty much unchanged since those original vans. The furniture is bolted to the frame so there is no movement and, therefore, very little stress leading to cracks and leakage.

We tested a Continental-spec Eriba Touring Troll 542 in Germany and in some fairly wintry conditions, encountering high winds, rain and snow when towing and low temperatures on the pitch.

When it comes to design, the Troll’s curved, aerodynamic shape has remained more or less unchanged since its inception 55 years ago. The box-section frame supports two-sectioned aluminium panels for its front, rear and sidewalls; the top, which houses the pop-up roof, is in GRP. The awning rail wraps around the entire van – great for canopy-style awnings to shield you from the sun – and the long, steel single grab-bar at the rear, covering the full width, makes perfect sense. It may be fanciful but in some ways the caravan’s V-shaped nose resembles that of an aircraft. Or is it that the bay windows look like a pair of early airman’s goggles? Whichever it is, the shape allows interesting storage detailing inside.

The finish is excellent, with medium-tone wood and neutral oatmeal furnishings on UK vans. (Our German test van featured a bold blue finish.) But it’s the attention to detail that is so impressive: the gas locker, for example, is wood-lined, and its lid lifts on struts with a parallelogram hinge. And why don’t all caravans have an entrance step that can be pulled out? The answer, of course, is weight. The Eriba Touring Troll 542’s MiRO is only 940kg and it’s not weighed down by the kitchen kit and caboodle that the majority of British tourers carry around.

The caravan has its entrance door and services on the wrong side for the UK – which is fine if you do most of your touring on the Continent – and it’s light enough to swing around on a pitch. Its knobbly white body surface won’t appeal to everyone, but you can always opt for the Eriba Touring GT Troll package, which gives it a smooth, two-toned silver body and extra kudos from fans of this look – you can’t help but admire it.

So, what is it like to tow this Eriba Touring Troll 542? You might think that the Troll’s compact size and low weight – when empty – would make towing it tricky, because smaller caravans can feel unstable in a crosswind. However, the Eriba has an aerodynamic shape and rides an Al-Ko chassis with an extra-long towbar; that, along with the Al-Ko AKS hitch stabiliser, automatic brake adjuster and low centre of gravity, make it an easy tow.

The Troll feels stable and secure, even in high winds on the autobahn; when being passed by lorries, it towed straight and smooth. As well as the slippery shape, the lower roofline with the pop-top stowed is definitely a help. And to see other Eriba caravans for sale, click here.