Some car brands have a mythical connotations. A car brand certainly belongs is Minerva. The Minerva was in his time the cream of the crop. Heads of state, kings and movie stars moves with style in this class act that could compete with a brand like Rolls Royce. Minerva vintage cars today are highly sought after worldwide. An original of the goddess Minerva emblem adorned the radiator block, serious amounts of money to be spent. In Belgium, there are nearly 150 Minerva ?? s, who love pampering by their owners.
Everything started with the founder Sylvain de Jong, who moved from Amsterdam to Antwerp and with his two brothers and some local merchants began to build bicycles. In 1897 he started his own company and created the brand Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and the arts. In 1900 he also began to manufacture motorcycles. Initially, there was simply a motor mounted to the front frame tube. Yet knew this motorcycle a global success. In 1904 the first car was built, but not until 1908 the production was well underway.
Minerva quickly became renowned for its solidity, luxury finish and speed. The nobility, various royal families, movie stars and business bosses around or had reason to drive around in the car ?? s impressive. Even Henry Ford of the Ford factories in the United States was a proud owner. Despite the fact that the Minerva factories were looted by the Germans in the First World War, the years ??, 20 of the 20th century, the golden age of the car brand. Before World War I, in 1911, Minerva was the largest factory of Belgium with 1600 employees and early 1920 worked even 6500 employees.
The success did not last long. A combination of factors led to the downfall. The founder Sylvain de Jong would still expand in 1927 but died a year later from cancer. The following year, in 1929, crashed the New York Stock Exchange. The demand for luxury cars promptly fell silent. All this meant that in 1934 the company because of the economic recession merged with Imperia, another Belgian car brand.
The production halls remained and were during WWII the Germans used to manufacture aircraft parts and stocking. They were given the Germans the name ?? ?? Erla. A bombardment by the Allied bombers to turn the factories missed goal: the bombs came one kilometer further up on the Antwerp municipality Mortsel, where more than 900 civilian casualties. After WWII there was a company called New Society ?? Minerva ?? founded but that only produced SUVs licensing Landrover for the Belgian armed forces and limited export. The glorious past of the royal car was very far away.
Today, there are nearly 150 Minerva ?? s in Belgium. The oldtimer worldwide very sought after, not only by the prestigious brand in itself, but also by the individual history of each of these cars. The name Minerva way, still lives on in Radio Minerva, a regional station in Antwerp mainly popular music is from the Roaring Twenties and whose target audience, the elderly, the car is more than just a distant memory.