8 September 2014

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Lot 141

1914 1914 Type KK Tourer

  • Chassis no. 01460

Sold for £50,400

18 CV, 3,307 cc sleeve-valve inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with three-quarter elliptic leaf springs, and two-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 3,250 mm

  • “Finest car to come out of Belgium”
  • Innovative and silent sleeve-valve engine
  • Well-preserved older restoration

The Minerva, often called the “finest car to come out of Belgium”, was the longest lived of that country’s high-quality marques. Its founder was Sylvain de Jong, a Dutchman and former journalist who had been making cycles under the names Minerva and Romania. He started building motor tricycles in 1899 and exhibited a prototype voiturette and light van at the Antwerp Cycle Show that same year.

The first Minerva cars appeared in 1902 and featured a wide range, with two-, three-, and four-cylinder engines. However, the most important development was the light Minervette of 1904, with its single-cylinder, 636-cubic centimetre engine. Larger cars, which featured 3.6-litre, four-cylinder engines or 6.2-litre sixes, were introduced in 1906. That year, Minerva Motors SA, of Antwerp, Belguim, had a workforce of 1,200 and turned out 600 cars, plus 1,500 motorcycles.

In 1909, Minerva took a bold step that would define the marque for the rest of its 36-year lifetime. It became the second European manufacturer to adopt the Knight sleeve-valve engine, with Daimler having been the first in 1908. The engine was the brainchild of American engineer Charles Yale Knight, and it used concentric sleeves with slotted ports. These rotated, one inside the other, and were actuated by an eccentric shaft. The arrangement was silent and fairly trouble-free, but it was expensive to manufacture. Ironically, Americans were the last to adopt the genre, doing so in 1911, and Willys-Knight, its principal protagonist, did not take it up until 1914.

Minerva built 3,000 cars in 1913, the last full year of production before the Great War, which was the most of any Belgian manufacturer. Four models were offered in 14, 18, 26, and 38 horsepower, with the second of which being fitted to this Type KK Tourer.

This 1914 Minerva features an older restoration that has been well preserved. The grey paint exhibits a good shine and is nicely contrasted by a wide maroon coachline on the wings, with the line itself outlined in gold. The massive brass radiator and headlamps bear the patina of ages, but they should polish up well. Atop the radiator is the helmeted Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, who oversees the car’s advance into any adversity. A boa constrictor bulb horn graces the right front wing, and at the driver’s elbow is an outboard wicker umbrella holder. Its seats are of brown leather, and the car has a handsome varnished wood instrument panel. The bonnet is a tan canvas, and it shows no flaws. The engine compartment is generally clean, although not exactingly detailed. Its beige wire wheels give the entire car an air of lightness. It should be noted that as the Minerva has been on museum display, it will require further sorting prior to any extensive use.

King Albert of Belgium bought a Minerva in 1910 and drove it himself whilst touring the Tyrol. His fellow royals in Norway and Sweden owned Minervas by 1914, when this car was built. Its new owner will justifiably feel very regal on the road.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more