In marketing, name recognition means practically everything. You can have the greatest product in the history of mankind but if nobody has ever heard of it you are facing a serious uphill battle to promote it.
In many respects that analogy is the story of Vanden Plas, a company of coachbuilders for specialist automobiles originally based in Belgium. The company origins go back to 1870 but for the sake of this article the first Vanden Plas coachwork appeared on an auto in 1906 when Metallurgique cars had Vanden Plas coachwork. After that initial offering the story of this fine company got considerably more complicated.
In 1910 they were purchased by what is now Peugeot,; then a new company with the old name was formed in 1917. Between 1924 and 1931 the Bentley company owned the rights, then during the 1930’s the company went independent and started doing coachwork for Daimler, Rolls-Royce, Alvis, and others. World War II found the company doing aircraft work only to return to the automobile industry in 1945.
Eventually the Vanden Plas name was attached to most of the European specialty cars and thus enters Jaguar into the picture. The Vanden Plas Princess was built for Jaguar but that was curtailed in 1968 because of a naming rights battle between Vanden Plas and Daimler. The story became updated when the Nanjing Automobile Co. purchased the rights and still today you can find evidence of the Vanden Plas in the occasional high-end luxury sedan.
And what, you ask, is the point of this whole retelling of the Vanden Plas history? The best answer to that question lies in the fact that the value of information and history is, well, in the information and history itself. Some of the finest European import cars in the world have been manufactured with Vanden Plas coachwork and since the cars are considered some of the finest ever produced then it is only fair that Vanden Plas get some of the credit. When we are talking about a company and their expertise that dates back to the late 19th Century then we are talking about some serious lineage.
And if you should be lucky enough to stumble across a car that boasts the Vanden Plas name, you might want to gobble it up if you can get it at a reasonable price because you are, in essence, buying a piece of automotive history.