Minerva AK Town Car by Hibbard & Darrin

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AK Town Car by Hibbard & Darrin





After participating in the war effort, which involved transferring some of its equipment to Holland, Minerva began producing automobiles again after the war, and in the 1920s offered a range of six-cylinder cars. In 1926, they launched the AF model, equipped with a 5.3-litre six-cylinder Knight engine, with the AFS version offering 5.9-litres. At this time, Minerva motorcars were often compared to Hispano-Suizas and Rolls-Royces. However, the death of Sylvain de Jong in 1928, followed by the stock market crash the following year, caused unforeseen problems. Despite financial difficulties, Minerva continued to produce highly prestigious models, including the marque's swan song, the AL 6.6-litres. In 1935, the company merged with Imperia, another Belgian constructor who had already taken over Nagant, Métallurgique and Excelsior, to form the group Imperia-Minerva. The very last cars to carry the Minerva marque left the factory in 1938.

Minerva Type AK, manufactured from 1927 to 1937, which was powered by a Knight-type six-cylinder engine of 6.0 litres producing 150hp. Long- and short-chassis versions were made, the latter being capable of 90mph, while Dewandre vacuum servo brakes made sure that this heavy car stopped as well as it went.

Large cars continued to be a specialty of Minerva's, and in 1930 the then almost-compulsory-for-the-time straight eight was introduced in two sizes; the 6.6-litre AL and the 4-litre AP.

The 153.5-inch wheelbase AL featured the most developed version of the Belgian automaker’s sleeve-valve engine. This innovative design replaced conventional poppet valves with mechanically actuated steel sleeves, which moved up and down within the bore and within which the piston reciprocated. When the ports in the two sleeves aligned with the exhaust port, the exhaust cycle was underway. Intake worked according to the same principle. The action of the sleeves moving up and down was caused by a fairly conventional crankshaft, which acted on roller bearings that were affixed to arms that were attached at the bottom of each sleeve.

The design was complicated but peerlessly silky smooth, and the AL, which displaced 6,625 cubic centimeters over eight cylinders, was also powerful; this was everything that one wanted in a luxury car. It was also immensely expensive, accounting for production of only 50 chassis, of which fewer than a dozen survivors have been traced.

The body for the car, which was built by New York City’s Rollston Company, was in many ways a traditional convertible sedan that had elegant but dignified interior appointments and a fully insulated soft-top, which made the car a formal sedan when it was raised and transformed it into an airy convertible when it was lowered. What distinguished this car were its doors, which were angled backwards at a dashing rake and mounted on hinges carefully engineered to suit. This “slant door” design had been tried before by Hibbard & Darrin, of Paris, and Brewster, of Long Island, both on Rolls-Royce chassis. It was, in all likelihood, the Brewster “Windblown” Coupe shown in New York in 1930 that inspired the Bagley Minerva’s design.

Rollston’s genius, however, was in improving upon the lines by matching the windshield, pillars, and even the shapes of the windows to the rake of the door lines. As with all great design, colors were used to guide the eye home, with a flow of darker paint along the beltline to accentuate how the design seems to be pushed rearward by the force of its own drama. It is a cliché to say that a design makes a car “look fast when it is standing still,” but in this case, the idea was not to make the car look fast; the idea was to accentuate the power suggested by its vast presence. Perfection is in the details, and even the Minerva mascot atop the radiator, a head that is mounted far back on an elegant neck, recalls the angles that define this car.

Sold for: 252000 USD
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