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S 26HP Open Drive Landaulette 1910
In 1902 De Jong added cars to his production as well with a 6 hp four-cylinder model. In 1903 he founded Société Anonyme Minerva Motors in Berchem (Antwerp). Volume car production began in 1904 with a range of two-, three- and four-cylinder models with chain drive and metal clad wooden chassis and the Minervette cyclecar. The 8-litre Kaiserpreis won the Belgian Circuit des Ardennes race in 1907.
Charles S Rolls (of future Rolls-Royce fame) was a Minerva dealer in England selling the 2.9-litre 14 hp (10 kW). The most important market for the manufacturer remained England, where at £105 the small 636 cc single-cylinder Minervette was the cheapest car on the market, followed by the Netherlands and France.
In 1908, Minerva obtained a worldwide Knight Engine license. The Knight motor, developed by Charles Yale Knight in the United States, used double sleeve valves and ran almost silently. All future Minervas would use these engines. Sporting successes continued with the new engines including the Austrian Alpine Trials and Swedish Winter Trials. Customers for the Minerva would include kings of Belgium, Sweden and Norway, Henry Ford and the Impressionist Artist Anna Boch
From 1910 until the First World War, Minerva's line consisted of three primary models, the largest of which was the 38hp. For 1912, that 38hp was designated as a Model CC, and had an increased engine capacity of nearly 900cc more than the predecessor at 7.2 litres. With 4 speed transmission, this providing it with a good turn of speed and the ability to use the renowned smoothness of its silent Knight powerplant through the gears.
Once production of sleeve valve cars became the mainstay of Minerva production, from 1910 they would focus on a tri-model range of four cylinder 16, 26 and 38 horsepower cars, generally changing Model designations on an annual basis, and occasionally modifying capacity slightly. The 'S' was the middle of the range, with a 102x125mm twin-bloc engine of 4,084cc. The aesthetic of the large shouldered radiator and Goddess motif remained consistent throughout of course.
During World War I Sylvain de Jong and his engineers were based in Amsterdam where they maintained development of their automobiles. Minerva cars were used for hit and run attacks against the Germans initially with rifle fire and light machine guns from simply protected open topped vehicles. These vehicles became increasingly sophisticated until trench warfare robbed them of the mobility needed for their hit and run tactics.
In 1920, they returned to Belgium to restart the production of luxury cars with the 20CV 3.6-litre four-cylinder and 30CV 5.3-litre six-cylinder models. The manufacturer's star rose not only in Europe, but in the United States as well where American film stars, politicians and industrialists appreciated the cars. The Minerva had the same quality as the Rolls-Royce, but was slightly less expensive. In 1923, smaller models were introduced; the 2-litre four-cylinder 15CV and 3.4-litre six-cylinder 20CV with standard four-wheel brakes. In 1927, the 30CV was replaced with the 6-litre AK, and also a new 2-litre six, the 12-14, was introduced.
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