Vanden Plas Classic Cars for Sale
The name Vanden Plas has become synonymous with the design of exquisitely crafted bodywork for high-end luxury vehicles. It is best known for its long association with such glorious names as Bentley, Rolls Royce and Daimler, but the origins of the marque began far more humbly, in the workshops of Belgian coachmaker Guillaume Van Den Plas and sons.
The Origins of Vanden Plas
Beginning in the 1870s, the family firm acquired an admirable reputation, supplying quality components for horse-drawn carriages. With the advent of motor transport, the firm seized upon the opportunity to expand its horizons, and by the early years of the twentieth century Vanden Plas employed 400 skilled coachbuilders, who hand-crafted 750 bespoke bodies per year. Each design which rolled off the production line was painstakingly sculpted to the most exacting specifications, and within a few years, word had spread within the nascent automobile industry that Vanden Plas was a name to be reckoned with.
Vanden Plas: Forging Valuable Alliances
In 1913, the first licensed manufacturing plant was opened in the UK under the name ‘Vanden Plas (England) Limited’. Following a move from Hendon to Kingsbury, the British subsidiary pursued lucrative deals with a number of highly respected manufacturers, most notably Bentley. But it was the firm’s post-war association with Austin which proved to be one of the most enduring alliances for Vanden Plas.
Vanden Plas unveils the Austin Princess
Austin’s majordomo, Leonard Lord, was keen to utilise the expertise of Vanden Plas in creating the series of luxury limousines which he planned to launch as the flagships of the Austin range. The first iteration of the Austin Princess was released in 1947, bearing the model number ‘A120’, and featuring exquisite coachwork by Vanden Plas. In addition to the chauffeur driven ‘DM’, replete with sliding glass panels separating the passengers from their ‘driver du jour’, the A120 was also released in a saloon version, targeted at the executive end of the market. Vast and imposing, yet exquisitely tasteful in design, the Vanden Plas bodywork became emblematic of the era, and was much sought after by diplomats and heads of state throughout the 1950s and beyond.
Vanden Plas and the Daimler DS420
After the acquisition of Daimler by Jaguar, Vanden Plas was tasked with masterminding the design of the DS420 luxury limousine. The first production models rolled out of Vanden Plas’s Kingsbury factory in the summer of 1968, and the limo remained in production until the North London plant finally closed its doors in 1979.