The history of Atelier Moens
The company John Lins, residing at the Tunnelsquare in Antwerp, responsible distributor for the Antwerp province for the car brands Triumph and Standard for which we received the concession for the Malines region exploited the garage for us.
At the same time, we acquired the Rover agencies from the Garage Vanderbeken-Pasteel, Plantijn Moretuslei in Antwerp and Trucks Stey and International Harvest for which the importer was located in Etterbeek.
The most current models were at that time Triumph Mayfower and Renown, the Standard Eight, Ten and Vanguard, the Rover 75 and Land-Rover.
At that time, the time rate varied around 28 to 30 fr./hour. Petrol cost +/- 2,50fr./litre.
In 1955 we gathered tenders edited by the Belgian army for repairing jeeps and trucks. The garage became too small. Due to a lack of space, we had to park a number of trucks outside at the the O.L.Vrouw church and they were parked back inside in the evening. The hire of the garage in the Ravenbergstraat 19 was terminated.
On September 9th 1958 , we purchased the factory building in the Industry Street 45. The deed was drawn, in French, by notary Walter Van den Walle. The factory belonged to PLC “Fibretex” with shareholders Mr. and Mrs. Eliezer de Founés-Germaine Valkenier from Meise. This company “Fibretex”, founded in 1903, employed 250 to 300 people during the interwar period. There were +/- 100 weaving machines and bags were made out of locally produced counterfeit jute. The jute was produced out of paper loom, twisted out of vivid red coloured paper strings. “Fibretex” built housing for the employees and constructed a hundred workman’s houses in the Industry Street.
The metal roof-beams were still property of the Company Buhler Constructions Metalliques in Antwerp and have been acquired separately. The site was cleaned up with own manpower; it contained ten weaving machines, a high tension cabin and a 30 M high brick chimney which was destroyed by the engineering troops. A survey has been made related to the take-over of the common walls and a plan has been drawn for building the separation wall, dressing room, toilets, offices and an excavation. Plans drawn up by architect J. Jonckers Ijzerenleen in Malines (defender at Malinois) cost 21.490 fr. Engineering was done by contractor Van Poppel.
Until 1963, when the tender for the army ended ,22 mechanics and sheet metal workers and an office clerk were employed. In that year, we started a cooperation with the company Lautrac Ltd., which represented Morris, Rover and Triumph for the Malines- Louvain region at that time. When the Lauwers bank, of which Lautrec was a part, was adjudged bankrupt ( Ravier, Cruypelandt, De Bruyne, Van Acker), we took sales in our own hands.
In 1967 , the agency Fiat ( ex Pans and Torino Motors) was offered to us. We embellished the front and the interior of the garage (showroom) and engaged salesmen ( Fasoel, Peeters, Otto). From 1967 till 1970, approximately 300 cars were sold each year and we reached 9 % penetration in the Malines region. This figure was not satisfactory for Fiat Belgio av. de la Reine in Waterloo and they gave concession to Gar. Teugels Nekkerspoel in Malines.
We focused back on Morris, Triumph and Rover, now united in the British Leyland group. Leyland owned an extended range including Mini, Mini-Clubman, Mini-Traveller, Allegro, Maxi, Austin 1800 Balanza, Princess, Triumph Dolomite, Triumph 2000 & 2500, Spitfire, TR6 and TR7 en MGB. The cheapest Mini 850 cost 59.900,-fr at that time.
In 1986, our contract with Leyland was terminated. Leyland disappeared, became Rover and switched to British Car Center. In 1989 , Jan Joosen took his well deserved pension. Until 1992, we distributed Suzuki (Moorkens Kontich), with the principal models Alto, Swift, Carry, Samourai and Vitara.
Similarly, we kept on working on English vehicles. Moreover, private cars without driver were let out on short term. In 1988,we completely renewed and extended our coach-work department in order to ensure coach-work repairs for a.o. Volvo Laenen (Malines), Garage De Greve Ford (Bonheiden), Garage Gamakobie Lada , Suzuki ( Malines), Anglo Parts MG, Triumph (Malines).
In 1998, Rudi Moens started working in the J&K Joosen premises. His experience with English vehicles started in 1987 with the restoration of an English Bristol double-deck bus for his final script at the Higher Technical Institute Cardinal Mercier in Brussels. Starting 1988, Rudi Moens continuously worked full-time on English Classics. In 2000, Rudi joined the J&K Joosen coach-work team in order to replace the last body workman who retired and to focus coach-work exclusively on English classics . The letting out of private cars was stopped in 2001.
In 2002, Karel Joosen thought he was up to a well earned pension after 50 years of working. Rudi Moens took over the flag, assisted by Edwin Hullak since 1990 and Marc Blockman since 2003.
Ever since 1998 , we have been dealing almost exclusively with English classic vehicles under the signboard “ATELIER MOENS”. This is almost evident viewing the specific experience and the extended presence of authentic specialised tools.
We still have some clients who bought their English Oldtimer here newly.