The brothers Sylvain and Jacques De Jong, having built their first car in 1900, continued to experiment with several modes of transport until 1904. In that time, they built numerous prototypes along with motorcycles—each always keeping the Minerva logo.
The brand’s first technological leap took place in 1905 when they replaced the traditional wooden bodywork with more robust steel construction. Also, they employed the use of a Cardan shaft as a drive mechanism in place of drive belts.
Although the Minervettes were quite successful on the market, the company decided to make the manufacture of larger models its main business.
Minerva often equipped their cars with engines that exceeded six litres in capacity and could hold their own in terms of quality, against brands like Mercedes and Rolls-Royce at that time.
In 1908 the De Jong brothers went to market with sleeve valve technology for the first time. Developed by the American Charles Y. Knight, the technology was characterized by its ability to make engines very quiet. However, the high consumption of oil and the subsequent release of thick black smoke, meant that the sleeve valves did not catch on with other manufactures. But even with its disadvantages, Minerva used the technology until 1937.
The Minerva 20HP “Torpedo,” so named because of its partially built all-weather aluminum body, housed six passengers. A design by the D’Ieteren house – Fréres de Bruxelles, which dates from 1923.
The Torpedo is equipped with a 3560cc Knight-type four-cylinder engine, running a Scintilla magnet and weighs approximately 1900 kilograms. It is capable of 100 km/h at top speed.
Interestingly the Minerva 20HP employs a foot brake, which slows the rear axle as well as a hand-operated brake mechanism attached to its four-speed transmission.
On June 3, 1924 the car was sold to Mr. Henrique de Seixas in Portugal by Casal Lda., the Minerva brand agent Headquartered at Rua do Comércio nº50 in Lisbon.
The car was discovered by João de Lacerda in the scrapyard, Adelino de Assunção, where it was purchased on March 12th, 1956 for the amount of five thousand Escudos.
The Torpedo received its final restoration effort in the workshops of Museu do Caramulo in 1991, with the team taking particular care in conserving the original upholstery.