Carosserie Van den Plas

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Van den Plas
Legal form
Foundation 1870
Resolution 1949
Seat Brussels, later Antwerp, Belgium
Number of employees 400 (1908)
Industry Body Shop

Carosserie Van den Plas was a Belgian coachbuilding company based in Brussels, later in Antwerp, which in the first third of the 20th century mainly produced individual bodies for luxury class automobiles. Notwithstanding the similarity in name, there are only slight points of contact with the British coachbuilder Vanden Plas (England), which became part of the BMC Group after the Second World War.

Company history

Minerva AL 40 CV with Van den Plas body (1932)

In 1870, the company was founded as a wheelwright’s workshop under the name Van den Plas or Van der Plas in Brussels. Later, in addition to wagon wheels, parts of axles were also manufactured. 14 years later the company moved to Antwerp and from then on was also involved in wainwrighting. The wheelwright’s workshop produced complete carriages. In 1890 a second workshop was added at the old location in Brussels. The carriages of this brand were known in Belgium and beyond as being of particularly high quality.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the company, now managed by Guillaume Van den Plas, began manufacturing car bodies. Clients included Berliet, De Dion-Bouton, Germain, Métallurgique and Packard. In 1908, the company already had 400 employees. 300 single-unit or small-series car bodies were produced each year and exported, for example, to Great Britain from 1906 onwards. The design for a convertible, which Van den Plas produced in 1927 on a Packard chassis, was adopted by the US coachbuilder Waterhouse and became the basis for a series called Victoria Convertible. Van den Plas temporarily collaborated with Samuel Elliott & Sons, a company based in Reading, UK.

Car bodies were still being built in the Belgian factories until 1949.[1]

Relations with Great Britain and France

Vanden Plas in Great Britain

Van den Plas had been exporting coachwork to Great Britain since 1906. The work of the Belgian company enjoyed an exceptionally good reputation there. In 1913 Warwick Wright and Théo Masui founded the company Vanden Plas (England) Ltd. to manufacture bodies in Great Britain under Belgian licence. The British company, which used a slightly modified spelling throughout, was financially and organisationally independent of the Belgian operation. Vanden Plas in the UK was closely associated with Bentley in the 1920s, and in the following decade the company also dressed Armstrong Siddeley, Daimler Lagonda, Rolls-Royce and Talbot chassis. After the Second World War, Vanden Plas was taken over by Austin and, after initially producing large saloons on Austin chassis, was absorbed into the BMC Group in the 1960s, which, like its successors, repeatedly used the brand name as part of Badge Engineering for luxuriously equipped versions of conventional Jaguar, Daimler or Rover models, but also for standard cars with special décor.

Van den Plas in France

In 1924, Guillaume’s son Willy established a branch in France, based in Paris and trading as Willy Van den Plas. The company existed until 1935.

Web links

Commons: Van den Plas– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Nick Georgano (editor in chief): The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile – Coachbuilding. Chicago / London 2001 (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers) ISBN 1-57958-367-9, p. 330 f.