I read with interest the letter from Mr. Stevens concerning Minerva cars, with special reference to the Baker sports Minerva. With due respect, however, I think it should be emphasised that this Baker car was in no way representative of the make: quite the contrary, because the Minerva was pre-eminently a luxury car, and during the period 1920-1930 it steadily built up a thoroughly well-earned reputation as the “Belgian Rolls-Royce” and ranked as one of the world’s finest cars. The great majority were intended to be chauffeur driven; smaller models were offered, but—like the contemporary small Daimlers—these were not in any way outstanding and one hardly ever saw them, whereas the huge chauffeur-driven examples were very much in evidence.
I enclose a photo of my father’s Minerva; he got this in 1936 when it was six years old. It had a superbly appointed limousine body by Vanden Plas; this was the famous 32-34 h.p. AK Model, undoubtedly Minerva’s greatest car; this is confirmed by the fact that it was in continuous production from 1928 to 1937, during which it was little changed, and retained the big 700 x 21 size tyres throughout. This photo brings out very well the impressive lines of these cars (the dog, unlike the car, had an underslung chassis). With a wheelbase of 12 ft. 51/2 in., a laden weight approaching three tons, great width and an enormously high radiator, these cars were only exceeded in sheer size by the giant Daimler models 35, 45 and 12-cylinder 50, which still rank as the largest private cars ever commercially marketed. I recall that the engine was beautifully finished, electrical equipment by Scintilla, but cold starting was sometimes difficult, although helped by the Ki-gas injector, which had to be handled with care. Once the sleeves had become a bit worn, oil consumption was very heavy, but for such a huge vehicle petrol consumption was good up-to 15 m.p.g. on long runs. My father didn’t keep a chauffeur so I was “appointed” driver, at the age of 19, but lacked both the skill and experience to handle a car of this size and type, and therefore made heavy weather of it. In the hands of an experienced driver, however, these cars performed superbly and long journeys were covered in the utmost comfort.
A 28 h.p. 8-cylinder model was also marketed with success, from 1931-1938; this was a fine-looking car, but to me it seemed somewhat overshadowed by the great AK model, and one saw far more of this type on the roads than any other models in the Minerva range.
A. H. Procter.