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Standard Vanguard Van with Windows - or is it a 2 door Estate?

Frame number VL120927VLN, year 1951.

The story of an intriguing Vanguard from Belgium

This article features what appears to be a 2 door estate. It belongs to member Marc Bertels in Belgium. Rather than based on the saloon, as were the later 4 door estates, this one is based on a Van. Van bodies were made by Mulliners of Birmingham but this one seems to have been supplied as a knocked-down kit (CKD) to the Imperia factory before being completed.

Peter Lockley, him,self an owner of a 4 door Vanguard estate takes up the story:

"The chassis number of the van clearly dates it to between January and July 1951as a phase 1.The V denotes a van, L left hand drive and I've no idea of the N. However as a guess it could stand for Nessonvaux where the Imperia works was situated. It appears to have a phase 1 bodyshell with a phase 1 grille and bonnet mascot but phase 1A doors, door handles and bumpers. .The phase 1A was introduced at chassis number V150001 according to my parts book. .This is possibly explained by the Imperia works using up old bodyshells, bonnet mascots and grilles but having run out of doors and bumpers by the time it assembled this vehicle. It has a correct rear numberplate mounting on the rear door which was introduced on the phase 1A whereas the phase 1 number plate mount was between the 2 parts of the rear bumper. It is clearly a van which all had 2 separate front seats so the passenger seat could tip up to gain access to the spare wheel. The question remains as to whether it had windows from new. That could well have been the case as the chrome around the windows appears to have been professionally installed.. However the other 2 vans I am aware of with windows were phase 2s and I was not aware that any were made earlier till now.

Under the bonnet it appears genuine with an export type air cleaner which I have seen on other cars. .However the rocker cover and air cleaner would normally be painted black not silver. The radiator is phase 1 or 1A.The dashboard and steering wheel are correct for a van and it seems to have a good radio housing which are impossible to find in good condition. The heater is however clearly not original. There is an interior roof light at the rear which is in the same position as in my estate..The steering wheel with a plain centre is correct for a van.

It is an intriguing vehicle and well worth keeping as it is in my view as it could be entirely genuine as an Imperia built vehicle."

John Shearman has added the following:

" I have now very carefully studied the Belgium Vanguard van or estate-car photos against the few photos I have of rare two-door Vanguard estate cars.

The positioning of the pillar which separates the two windows behind the door is in exactly the same position as it is on the two-door estate (albeit it is more slender on the Belgium vehicle). So, although I cannot be 100% certain, I do believe that the windows are factory-original, as they are also to exactly the same style as they are on the two-door estate.

Whether or not it had a rear seat has to be determined to answer this mystery. Perhaps Imperia did produce a "van with windows" (i.e. without a rear seat). But, if it did have a rear seat then it really is a "two-door estate".

I have a photo of a two-door estate with a door in the open position. It does NOT have a door pocket, just like the Belgium vehicle does not have a door pocket."

As John had not seen the photos attached to this article (which prove it has no rear seats,) I am going to describe this car as a Factory (Imperia) built "Van with Windows" Unless you have any more information?

My thanks go to Marc for use of some of his photographs. You can seee more on his flikr page

We hope that one day Marc will visit us with his car at the International Rally

Phil Homer

(Feb 2011)