Robb Design Portfolio: King of the Road Trip

  • Robert Ross

1930 Minerva AL Van Den Plas Cabriolet
Belgian manufacturer Minerva, known as the builder of "the car of kings and queens" because its customer base included European monarchs, was the Continental equal of Rolls-Royce during its pre-Depression prime. In 1929, the company began producing the largest of its chassis, the 6,800-pound AL. Equipped with a powerful yet quiet 6.6-liter, in-line 8-cylinder, sleeve-valve engine—and, in the case of the car pictured here, custom-made luggage that fit precisely in the trunk—the AL was a perfect long-distance traveler.

Minerva made fewer than 50 ALs; nine survive, and this is the only one that received three-position drophead coachwork by Van Den Plas. Artistry abounds, with silver the metal of choice for the radiator mascot and other details.

Found in disrepair and first restored during the 1970s, the car underwent a correct restoration by Alan Taylor beginning in 2003. It won its class at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and was a runner-up for that year’s Best of Show.

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