When thinking of automobiles, one typically thinks of countries such as Japan, United States, and Germany, Belgium does not generally appear in our thoughts. The true car buff knows that there were a couple of ground-breaking autos manufactured in Belgium that helped define the emerging auto industry world wide. Minerva and Imperia each had a part in the popularity of automobiles at the turn of the century.
In 1897 Minerva was a bicycle manufacturer, and in 1900 expanded to motorized bicycles helping to bring about motorcycles, then finally in 1904 concentrated efforts on automobile production. In the year 1907, the Kaiserpreis became champion automobile at the Belgium Circut Des Ardennes. Because of the great size of the Manerva auto, they were used during World War I for quick attacks against German forces. During the 1920's the Minerva was compared in quality to the Rolls Royce, but with a lower price tag. Due to the financial crisis of the 1930's, Minerva was restructered and merged with the other well-known Belgium manufacturer, Imperia.
Imperia produced automobiles from 1906 through 1948. The Imperia autos were well known for using a straight eight engine. This was the engine preference of the times. The company then switched to a 3L 32-valve 4 cylinder engine. This particular engine style allowed speeds up to 90 miles per hour. The next engine style to be used was a side-valve 1100 cc 4 cylinder. It was one of the first autos to be designed with a sun-roof. Between 1927 and 1931 Imperia took over 3 other Belgian car manufacturers, Metallurgique, Excelsior, and Nagant. In 1934 Imoeria merged with Manerva but then split with them again in 1939.
The Imperia was out of business in 1948, but 60 years later it is making a resurgence on the European market with the Imperia GP Roadster. This is a sleek looking automobile which is a hybrid, but still maintains the speed and superiority of a fine sports car. It is great to see a classic making a comeback. All signs show that the resurgence of interest in Imperia Motors follows the time tested traditions of the automobile industry.