Coachwork in the manner of Morgan & Co,1906 Minerva  40-hp Roi des Belges   Chassis no. 2003 Engine no. 2003
Lot 1250
1906 Minerva 40-hp Roi des Belges
Registration no. LN 1776 Chassis no. 2003 Engine no. 2003
Sold for £177,340 (US$ 295,174) inc. premium
Lot Details
Coachwork in the manner of Morgan & Co
1906 Minerva 40-hp Roi des Belges
Registration no. LN 1776
Chassis no. 2003
Engine no. 2003


  • Few Edwardian cars rank as high as Minerva, Belgium's "Goddess of Automobiles". Its founder, Sylvain de Jong, was a Dutchman born in Amsterdam in 1868, who moved to Belgium in 1883, opening a company importing English bicycles six years later. He soon moved to England to study cycle manufacture, and returned to Belgium to capitalise on the low cost of labour, building bicycles in Antwerp under the "Mercury" trade mark. He spent time in America studying production methods, and in 1897 left Mercury to establish a new company producing cycles – the first Minervas. By 1899 production was running at 200 cycles a week, but he had greater ambitions and had taken on a de Dion-Bouton agency. Learning much from de Dion quality, in 1900 he began making Minerva motorbikes, which enjoyed many competition successes. At the same time, he began experimenting with prototype voiturettes, but the demand for two-wheelers meant that car production only got slowly under way from 1902.

    The "Société Anonyme Minerva Motors" was founded in 1903, with De Jong and his friend David Citroën, a Dutch-born naturalised Englishman who had been Minerva's highly successful British agent since 1900, as directors, and a new factory equipped with the latest machinery was opened in Antwerp in December 1904 with 550 workers. Production began with a range of T-head cars with two, three and four cylinders and chain final drive, initially with armoured wood chassis, but soon with pressed steel frames.

    In 1905 the agency was taken up by the Hon C. S. Rolls, who entered two 20-hp four-cylinder Minervas for the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy; they failed to finish, but the spark of competition had been kindled.

    In 1906, when Minerva production reached 600 cars and 3000 motorcycles and engines and a four-storey building was added to the Antwerp factory, standard production Minervas took second place in the team prize in the Coupe de Liedekerke and won their class in the Circuit Touriste de la Semaine d'Ostende among other successes.

    Late that year Minerva introduced the big pair-cast T-head 40-hp six-cylinder Type K of 6235cc, and – according to a list of models and serial numbers supplied to a past owner of the car offered here by a Mr T.G. Morris, a former Minerva employee, this is the third example of that model to be built (the first, he said, went to the chairman of the company, a Mr Siddeley). This car's first owner was Lady Geraldine Digby St Lawrence of 43 Eaton Square, London, the aunt of racers Algy and Kenelm "Bill" Lee Guinness. She bought the car through the then sole concessionaires for the model, Arnott & Holloway of 17 New Burlington Street, in London's West End. It has the unusual feature of a period twin-carburettor installation that hints at early competition use – a fuzzy photograph copied from the Guinness family album in the car's thick file shows the Minerva parked alongside other high-powered cars – including the famous 1905 200-hp Darracq record-breaker – from Algy Lee Guinness's personal stable, probably at Algy and Bill's farmhouse at Datchet, and it seems possible that Algy (who drove for Minerva around that time) could have borrowed his aunt's car for hillclimbs or other speed events. An unusual feature is a four-speed gearbox – early Type Ks were normally fitted with a three-speed transmission – again hinting that this was a rather special car. The car has a leather-faced cone clutch and final drive to the live rear axle, which is located by a swinging arm torque rod and radius arms outside the chassis, is by an open propellor shaft.

    In 1910 Lady St Lawrence sold her Minerva to a Mr A. Badder, who ran a garage at Old Windsor. He removed the car's Morgan-built Roi des Belges body and fitted landaulette coachwork, using the car as a hire car in the Windsor area, among other duties ferrying passengers from Old Windsor railway station to take tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle.

    During the Great War, the Minerva was used for police work, and when found by VCC member Alan Edwards of Lyndhurst, Hampshire, at Mr Badder's garage in 1956, it still had blackout paint on the headlamp glasses as a precaution against Zeppelin raids. By the mid 1950s, the Minerva was no more than a chassis, the landaulette body having been scrapped some time earlier at the start of, as Mr Edwards commented at the time, "a rebuild which has been in progress ever since" (and was unfinished due to the fact that Mr Badder was then 87!).

    Mr Edwards began a restoration of the car, though seemingly more concerned with a veteran New Orleans that he had been restoring "on and off" since 1955, and completely dismantled it, storing the components of the engine beneath his upstairs sitting-room table... He acquired the front portion of a Napier Roi des Belges body from Fairfax Wade-Palmer of the New Forest in exchange for a cabriolet body bought from prominent VCC member J.A.G. Burchell. However, around the start of the 1960s Mr Edwards traded the Minerva with fellow enthusiast Alan Betteridge in part exchange for a boat. Betteridge had wings made for the car by a "strange panel beater in Southampton" and the rear axle was overhauled by Alan Southon of Phoenix Green around 1962 before the car – with its engine rebuilt and running – again changed hands in a trade deal with a company in the West Country.

    The Minerva next surfaced in 1974, when it was in the hands of Paul Foulkes-Halbard of Crowborough, who was apparently selling it on behalf of his friend Bernard Garrett; Foulkes-Halbard sold it to Michael Banfield, who commenced a painstaking restration, endowing the car with an immaculately crafted replica of its original Roi des Belges coachwork by Morgan & Company of Long Acre.

    Now this unique and spectacular Edwardian is ready to write a new chapter in what Belgian historians Jacques and Yvette Kupélian have so eloquently described as the "glorious history [of a marque that in its day] represented the summit of world automobile manufacture ..."
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

Like the vast majority of auctioneers Bonhams charge what is known as a Buyer's Premium. Buyer's Premium on all Automobilia lots will adhere to Bonhams group policy, 25% up to £50,000 of hammer price, 20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 of hammer price, and 12% on the balance thereafter.This applies to each lot purchased and is subject to VAT.

Some lots may be subject to VAT on the hammer price. These lots will be clearly marked with a dagger (†) printed beside the lot number in the catalogue.

Buyers are reminded that from 1 Jan 2012 for Motor Cars and Motorcycles a 15% Buyer's Premium is payable on the first £50,000 of the final Hammer Price of each Lot, and 12% on any amount by which the Hammer Price exceeds £50,000, Buyers' attention is drawn to Condition 7 of the Notice to Bidders in the online and printed catalogues.

VAT at the standard rate is payable on the Premium by all Buyers, unless otherwise stated.

Collection Notices

Collection dates and times for purchased Automobilia lots from the sale venue.
Friday 13 June 12:00 Noon - End of Automobilia Part 1
Saturday 14 June 9:00 - 19:00
Sunday 15 June 9:00 - 17:00
Monday 16 June 9:00 - 12:00 Noon

All purchased lots must be cleared from the sale venue by 12 noon, Monday 16 June.
All un-collected purchased lots shall then be removed to Bonhams storage facility at:
Unit 1 Sovereign Park, Coronation Road,
Park Royal, London, NW10 7QP
and will be available for collection from 10am Monday 23
June 2014 by appointment only.

To arrange collection please contact the Automobilia Department 020 8963 2842 or to make an appointment.

All lots will be charged £10+VAT uplift and storage at £1+VAT per day per lot from 23 June 2014.

All lots marked with a ◊ will be charged £25+VAT uplift and storage at £5+VAT per day per lot.

All lots marked with a ◊◊ will be charged £50+VAT uplift and storage at £10+VAT per day per lot.

All lots marked with a ◊◊◊ will require specific shipping and storage arrangements, as they are either extremely large or heavy objects.

Please contact for further information.
Shippers or Agents wishing to collect on behalf of the purchaser must provide written instruction from the client before Bonhams will release the lot(s).

All purchases are at buyers risk from the fall of the hammer.

Motor Cars
Vehicles must be collected from the sale venue on the evening of the day of the sale or by 12 noon on Monday 16 June. Buyers should satisfy themselves that they have collected all relevant log books, documents and keys
relating to their Lot(s) at time of collection.

Otherwise Lots shall be removed to storage at the Buyer's expense (see below). Lots are at the Buyer's risk from the fall of the hammer. It is strongly advisable that overseas purchasers and absentee bidders make arrangements regarding collection with Bonhams in advance of Sale.

Removal and Storage of Vehicles
All Lots not removed in accordance with the above will be transported by Bonhams to a local store.

With the unique nature of each and every vehicle in this sale, uplift and subsequent storage will be by individual arrangement with Polygon Transport. See below for their full contact details. It is recommended potential purchasers make contact with Polygon before bidding.

Transport and Shipping
A representative of Polygon Transport, will be at the Sale and can arrange national and international transportation as agent for the Buyer or the Seller (as the case may be).

Polygon Transport
Unit 2H North Road
Marchwood Industrial Park
Normandy Way
Marchwood, Southampton
Hants SO40 4BL
02380 871 555
02380 862 111 fax

Vehicle Insurance
Hagerty International Limited
The Arch Barn
Pury Hill Farm
NN12 7TB
0844 824 1134

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

  1. Customer Services (UK)
    Customer Services
    Work +44 20 7447 7447
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7401
  2. Motor Cars (UK)
    General Enquiries
    Work +44 20 7468 5801
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5802
  3. Toby Wilson
    Specialist - Automobilia
    Unit 1, Sovereign Park
    London, United Kingdom NW10 7QP
    Work +44 20 8963 2842
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2802