Gunther Holtorf was born on 4 July 1937 in Göttingen. He grew up during the Second World War and took his "Abitur" (matriculation examination) in 1957 in Frankfurt. After a brief detour via the German Army officer training academy in the autumn of 1958, he successfully completed an apprenticeship at Lufthansa.
His obliging manner impressed the aviators. In 1962 was given responsibility for organising and accompanying the Bamberg symphony orchestra on a tour of Central and South America. At the age of 25, he spent six weeks travelling all over the American continent with the orchestra in two Lufthansa Super Constellation aircraft.
This trip obviously gave him a taste for travel. In the summer of 1962, he moved to Buenos Aires in Argentina with his first wife and his newborn daughter Sabine. Since the successful concert tour, he had been regarded in Frankfurt as an expert on South America, despite the fact that he could only speak a few words of Spanish. In 1964, the family moved to Santiago de Chile, where Holtorf was once again the airline's representative. There he had less success in breaking down what he describes as the Mafia-like structures in the country and in 1965 he was deported at the instigation of his opponents.
After a brief spell as station manager for Lufthansa in Gran Canaria, Gunther and his young family moved to Hong Kong in 1966. In 1970, he and his wife divorced. She returned to Germany and he married again. There followed postings to Indonesia (1973) and Uruguay (1979).
In 1985, he left Lufthansa and moved to Hapag-Lloyd Flug in Hanover as managing director of the charter airline of the Hapag-Lloyd shipping group, which is now known as TUIfly. There he got to know his third wife. When the chairman of the group rejected Holtorf's plan to compete with Lufthansa on the domestic market, he left the company in early 1988.
In September 1988, he bought the blue four by four that would later be known as Otto and would travel with him to every country in the world. The car was a demonstrator that he saw standing on the forecourt of a dealership in Oldenburg. On a test drive from Kenya to southern Africa he checked car and equipment. After his third divorce he got to know his fourth wife Christine, who came from Dresden, via an advertisement in the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit". That happened during the chaotic period following the collapse of communism in East Germany. After a few months, they set off on their journey and were on the road together until shortly before her death in 2010.
Gunther Holtorf with Otto in Kenya in 1989: the East African country marked the starting point for "Otto's journey". Even Gunther Holtorf himself had no idea at this moment that 25 years later he would have travelled through virtually all the countries of the world.