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Lot 196: Minerva AC Tourer

Fine Motor cars incl. The Jaguar Legend, Coys (14 July 2012)

At the height of their success, this quality builder of touring cars were worthy rivals to the very finest manufacturers of the time thanks to the excellence of their engineering and the quality and accuracy with which their products were assembled.

As a manufacturer of quality touring cars, Minerva first rose to fame during the first decade of last century. They used motor sport, along with the majority of other manufacturers, to promote their product and had some noteworthy successes. These included an outright win in the 1906 Kaiserpreis Event with Lord Brabazon at the helm. In the last year of competition before the outbreak of the First World War, Minervas also showed strongly in the gruelling Tourist Trophy held on the Isle of Man to circumvent Britain's mainland ban of racing on public roads.

Minerva were an early exponent of the sleeve valve engine, licensing the technology from Knight Engines and their smooth and silent products became popular in Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean in America during the 1920s. By the mid 1920s they produced the four cylinder 15CV and the 6 cylinder 20CV and 30CV models all with sleeve valve engines. The latter, in standard chassis length became the company's most popular seller, clothed with all manner of impressive coachwork from coachbuilders around the world. The Minerva was a similar quality product to the Rolls-Royce but sold for a slightly lower price and became popular with industrialists, movie stars and politicians.

This particular Minerva AC was ordered with the largest 30CV engine and was owned when new by the celebrated Hutton family; the Hutton fortune was inherited from department store magnate F W Woolworth, whose most celebrated member was celebrated socialite Barbara Hutton, who, along with the rest of the family managed to make a massive dent in a fortune of several hundred million 1920s dollars, no mean achievement for the time. The name featured prominently in the order books of all the greatest car manufacturers of the era, amongst which was the great Minerva company, pride of Belgian engineering. The Huttons chose one of their most prestigious models, the AC with its massive six cylinder engine producing a formidable 120HP and a top speed of 130 km/h, a car certainly seen almost as a rival to its contemporary the Rolls-Royce Phantom I.

It was fitted with massive Stephen Grebel headlamps, and was then shipped in bare chassis form to the United States, where it was bodied by the celebrated Rollston company of New York, who combined design flair with superb craftsmanship and worked on all the greatest marques, Rolls-Royce, Packard, Duesenberg and so on. A truly graceful dual-cowl tourer body was chosen, very light and sporting in appearance, and this is the bodywork it still carries today. The car has clearly been the recipient of detailed and high quality restoration work, and is now finished in White, set off by chromed wheels, and has an elaborately finished interior in blue leather.

Minervas of this size and quality and with this interesting provenance are rarely seen on the market, and this example, in lovely condition is clearly in a condition to appeal to the most demanding collector, and is reportedly one of only 40 left worldwide of this chassis type. Indeed a very rare 'investment grade' motorcar.

Lot Details
Auction Fine Motor cars incl. The Jaguar Legend
Coys, Blenheim Palace,Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PX
TypeCar
Lot Number196
Estimate£85000-£110000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)£107640
Year1925
Condition rating1
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number53416
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors