Minerva was a well-respected belgian car builder but after the second world war it was as far down as it could get. After the war they were determined to get military contracts but the FIAT-based 4x4 vehicle did not impress the Belgian army. So the head of Minerva contacted Landrover in 1951 to compete together with Willys for 2500 lightweight vehicles for the Belgian army.
A 1951 80-inch model registered LNX 406, chassis 1613-5179 was sent to Belgium for trials. It later returned to the factory and was sold on through Macrae and Dick of Inverness.
In May 1952 Landrover got the contract for 2500 vehicles in form of CKD vehicles and Minerva was to assemble them under licence and with assistance from Landrover. Chassis, axles, transmission and other parts were supplied but the contract stated that 63% of the parts should be of Belgian origin. The body was made of steel and it's believed that also later chassis were built in Belgium as they differ in many ways from the originals. Also civilian models were made but in a smaller number.
The total number of military delivered Minervas were 8440. The records of the Heritage Trust show 9905 Minervas CKD were delivered, so the missing 1456 vehicles went to the Police and Gendarmerie and also to some civilians.
All vehicles were left-hand driven 80" models with 2-litre engine. The front wings were squared off and sloping (easier to produce), the bodywork was made of steel and the front grille was smaller and had the Minerva badge. Other modifications include lights position and size, exhaust coming out under the driver's door and external door hinges on the civilian models. The police and military versions had an spare wheel carrier on the right and an jerry can holder on the left. The front middle seat was replaced by a steel toolbox.
The army did not put them immediately into service but stockpiled them so almost brand new vehicles entered service until recently. It's even rumored that you can get still vehicles by surplus dealers with only a couple of kilometres. Imagine- a brand-new Series I at the price of a well-used Ford Fiesta.
Some of the vehicles found their way into Luxembourg. We're working on a listing to document those rare cars. More on this later.
http://www.yorkshire.u-net.com/Minerva.htm - one of the best links on Minervas