Vanden Plas Coach Builders
Vanden Plas originated in
Belgium, although the name is derived from the Dutch, and should
actually be pronounced as Van Der Plas.
In 1870 the company started up with a workshop in Brussels making at first wheels but later on they started producing axle units for carriages. But in 1884 they decides to move to Antwerp where they earned a reputation making horse drawn carriages. Because of increased orders in 1890 another branch was opened back in Brussels. They exhibited their products at various trade fairs through out the world, and in 1900 received the highest award give to a Belgium coach-builder. This was a turning point and orders came rolling in from various European car manufactures.
By the year 1908, Vanden Plas workforce had increased to about 400 producing around 300 special bodies a year. Production continued to increase year on year, so that by 1913 it had reached the figure of about 750.
It was decided to set up a subsidiary in the UK, so in March 1913 Vanden Plas (England) Ltd was formed. Various changes were made over the years until in 1923 when its name became Vanden Plas (England) 1923 Limited and was based at Kingsbury London. All the major luxury motor manufactures, such as Bently Alvis and Logonda had coach built bodies by Vanden Plas.
Vanden Plas body on a Leyland 1923
The Austin Motor Company
decided to purchase the company in 1946. So when the Austin
Sheerline was announced it was available as a Princess with a coach
built body by Vanden Plas. (see A125/135) Various body styles were
produced on the Austin chassis including specialist Ambulances and
Hearses. With any new model announcement made by Austin, a Vanden
Plas version usually followed.
Also they often made one off's for wealthy clients. Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II had numerous models with Vanden Plas bodies at the Palaces. So various luxury versions of the following, Austin A105 saloon, Austin A99 Westminster and the 3 Litre Princess were introduced.
Vanden Plas 3 litre Princess
It was in 1964 that the
Vanden Plas 4 litre R came out, this was based on the Princess 3
litre. body and suspension. The development of the car was a joint
project with BMC and Rolls Royce in the early 60s.
Vanden Plas 4 litre R
Vanden Plas Princess
In 1962 the Morris 1100 was
announced, Fred Connolly the founder of the company that supplied
leather to the motor industry commissioned Vanden Plas to make a
special version. A prototype was exhibited at the 1963 London Show
and aroused a lot of interest so it was put into full scale
production by BMC management with deliveries starting in the
winter. In 1968 the model received the 1300 cc engine and continued
been made until May 1974.
In the the preceding years various other motor manufactures in the Leyland Group had Vanden Plas versions produced.
September 1974 saw the
launched of the Vanden Plas 1500 Saloon based upon the Austin
Allegro, it was not called a Princess as British Leyland had
decided to use it on their new 18/22 series of wedge shaped cars.
Sadly the Kingsbury site was closed in 1979 and production was
transferred to the MG factory at Abingdon, which then closed in the
From 1980 onwards the
Vanden Plas name was added to the most expensive luxury versions of
the Austin Metro, Maestro, Montego and Ambassador, as well as the
Rover SD1 and 213/216 models.