Minerva T.T. Register

Three Messages from Mike HARDIMAN

Mike HARDIMAN, out of Bristol (UK) is a  member of the Board of Directors of Minerva TT Register

Here he brings THREE  contributions in english :

 

TTs OVERSEAS  N° 1

If you have delved this far into the Minerva TT Register web site then you are either an enthusiast or just curious. If you are reading it then you are also an Anglophone. Welcome.

The title of this section is something of a paradox, because if you consider for a moment 90 per cent of all Minerva Land Rovers ever built were built for the Belgian military. Some will have seen service in the then Belgian Congo, and others went to UN relief work in Africa, but not many. The rest stayed land bound.

We know that following their military service days some have ‘crossed the oceans’ for there are two or three at large in North America, and there are about twenty in the UK. Two came in June 2013, and another is due to arrive in October.

There are others which have moved beyond the Belgian borders but not overseas. A handful exist in the Netherlands, one or two at least in Germany.

France, too, has a handful and there is at least one in Italy.

The later 86 inch Minervas, built for the civilian market, also travelled outside Belgium. There are at least two in Spain, and there are rumours that some went to Brazil. A good few went to Luxembourg, but few of this model have survived to the present day.

We know, too, that the Minerva company had plans to export their later 4 x4 model, the C22 to the USA, but only a few prototypes were made before they ceased trading.

Outside Belgium therefore these Land Rover variants are not exactly commonplace. You may know of a Minerva Land Rover that we are not aware of, or you may think that we have underestimated the number in your country. Either way, or even if you are just interested, please make contact. The TT Register welcomes any information you may have, especially regarding chassis numbers, history and location.

Mike Hardiman

mlhardiman@btinternet.com

 

 TTs OVERSEAS N° 2

If you have delved this far into the Minerva TT Register web site then you are either an enthusiast or just curious. If you are reading it then you are also an Anglophone. Welcome.

In 1953, at the height of the company’s licence building of Land Rovers for the Belgian military, the Societe Nouvelle Minerva SA decided to try their hand in the general car market with a civilian version. No-one now knows how many were actually made, and there were some enthusiasts who argued that there never were any. Some reports suggest that up to 100 were produced before Minerva switched to their 86 inch production for the civilian market. It seems likely that this was the point at which the grille badge changed from the plain ‘Licence Rover’ type to the one including the Land Rover oval, as Minerva sought to exploit their links with the Solihull brand.

Known survivors are extremely rare, all within the chassis number range of 36635710 to 36635739, lending support to the view that maybe between 20 and 50 were made and probably closer to 20 than 50. The despatch records from Solihull are no help, simply recording each batch of CKDs sent out. Without the Mortsel production records, long since vanished, there is no way of knowing what vehicle was built on each chassis.

Until the end of June 2013 only two extant vehicles were known. Then at the Land Rover Series One Club 65thAnniversary gathering we learned of a further one. Strange to relate, all of them are outside Belgium. Two have travelled overseas to the UK and the other is in the far west of France.

The civilian 80 inch Minerva differed in a number of ways from its military counterpart and next time we will explore at these differences.

Mike Hardiman

mlhardiman@btinternet.com

 

TTs OVERSEAS N° 3

In the last TTs Overseas piece we covered the 80 inch Civilian Minerva, and said that until very recently only two extant vehicles were known.  Then at the Land Rover Series One Club 65th Anniversary gathering (May 2013) we learned of a further one.  We remarked that all three survivors are outside Belgium.  Two have travelled overseas to the UK and the other is in the far west of France.

Min80civMikeRivett3

Thus the 80 inch Civilian Minerva is a very rare beast indeed, so rare that until a few years ago many enthusiasts would have argued forcefully that no such vehicles ever came out of the factory in Mortsel.  But they did, and they were part of the Minerva company’s efforts to expand beyond the purely military vehicles they had been producing until then.

Min80civMikeRivett1

To distinguish them from their military siblings the civilian version came with a choice of two colours, Bordeaux and Green, with green faux leather upholstery.  The centre storage box of the military models disappeared, and there were instead three front seats.  The three-quarter high fixed tail panel was replaced by a full height drop-down tailgate, and the front doors gained exterior door handles, inset in dishes.  The slam latches differed from the military 80 inch ones – and incidentally from the ones used on the later 86 inch Civilian versions.  There were chromed surrounds for both head- and side-lights.  Underneath, the chassis cross members had apertures for a rear power take off to be fitted if required.  We have no clear pictures of the rear lights or their configuration, but it seems reasonable to suppose that the standard rear lights were carried forward to the civil versions.

Min80civMikeRivett2

Minerva offered this model in three body styles, open pick up to which a canvas tilt with twin side windows could be fitted, a truck cab hard top and a full hard top with side windows.  We believe that the latter two versions as shown in the brochure are sporting standard Land Rover items of the time and it is unlikely that the Mortsel factory ever produced these add-ons themselves.

Courtesy of Mike RIVETT for the  inserted pictures of the latest Civilian 80 inch to be found.