Many fine cars have been made in Belgium. Abundant raw materials, technical expertise and capital supplied a car industry which flourished from the late 19th century until 1914, and again from 1919 into the 1930s. It is easily forgotten in the 21st century that Belgium was ‘noted for finely-engineered motor cars’ (T R Nicholson). Most Belgian firms relied on hand-crafting methods, however, which meant that they could not compete with cars mass-produced in other European countries and in the USA. Of more than 70 Belgian car manufacturers in the early years, most had amalgamated or closed down by the late 1930s. The few that remained mostly assembled cars originating in other countries, a sorry fate for illustrious marques. One or two names made a brief reappearance after the Second World War, but soon faded away again, their factories becoming assembly plants for foreign firms.
This publication covers vehicles made in Belgium, first the grand marques: Minerva, Excelsior, Impéria, Métallurgique and FN.
Next we see those firms which were established by the early years of the 20th century, though many of them had closed by 1914.
Our next section covers firms that were set up between the wars, but which mostly died out by 1939, and there were also a few postwar Belgian car makers. There have been leading coachbuilders and commercial vehicle manufacturers in Belgium, a few of whom are described here, plus motorcycle manufacturer Saroléa, which made Mototraction three-wheeler vehicles. Most car production in more recent decades in Belgium has been assembly of the products of the big automotive groups, which are briefly described here as well.