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Vanden Plas Reviews

THE coachbuilding firm of Carrosserie Van den Plas was formed in Belgium in 1898 by Guillaume van den Plas and his three sons, Antoine, Henri and Willy, with bases in Antwerp and Brussels. An English subsidiary was established in 1913, named Vanden Plas (England) Ltd. However, following the 1914-1918 War, this firm gradually foundered, entering receivership in 1923. A manager at Vanden Plas, Edwin Fox (along with his brothers Alfred and Frank) successfully acquired the name and goodwill of the company, relaunching it as Vanden Plas (England) 1923 Ltd with Alfred as chairman and Edwin as managing director.

in 1946 Austin’s Leonard Lord made an offer of £90,000 for the company. Lord was looking for someone to design and build the bodywork for Austin’s new six-cylinder chassis, and saw Vanden Plas as the ideal candidate. The Fox family accepted his offer, and Vanden Plas became a subsidiary of Austin, with Lord taking over as chairman and managing director, while Edwin and Roland Fox became directors, along with Austin’s George Harriman. From 1963, and the launch of the 1100, Vanden Plas' role within BMC was revised, becoming a marque that delivered luxury versions of mainstream cars - a policy that culminated in the Allegro-shaped Vanden Plas 1.5/1.7...

Good: Acres of style and class for your money
Bad: Hugely expensive to run, and parking can be an issue
Good: Smooth and refined, a comfortable long-distance cruiser
Bad: Thirsty, cumbersome handling, despite luxury, too similar to the other 'big' Farinas from Austin and Wolseley.
Good: Exquisite wood and leather luxury including picnic tables, compact dimensions, manageable running costs, good looks, great steering and handling
Bad: Rusty and many cars have been fitted with non-standard parts.
Good: The ultimate Farina saloon with all the usual Vanden Plas trappings, and huge amounts to torque
Bad: Huge thirst, and not as refined as the Rolls-Royce connection might lead you to expect
Good: Comfortable, well appointed, better to drive than to look at, gaining a certain cool status
Bad: Leisurely performance with manual gearbox, interior trim hard to find if missing