Schutter & Van Bakel
Schutter & van Bakel was initially founded in 1829 by Willem van Bakel as "W. van Bakel & Zoon" and was located in Amsterdam as charriot and saddle manufacturer. Willem died in 1851 and left the company to his son, Jan van Bakel, who died only one year later. Willem's grandson, Willem Johannes van Bakel, was only five years old at the time, so management was entrusted to Hendrik Anton Schutter. At that time, the company operated in the 'Kerkstraat 8' and because of the workshop being sometimes too dark, the chariots were often mended and painted outside in the street.
In 1873, Willem Johannes van Bakel took over management from Mr. Schutter, whose daughter he had married three years earlier. The firm was now renamed to "Schutter & van Bakel". Hendrik Anton Schutter died three years later in 1876. Willem Johannes van Bakel's second son, Jan, joined the company in 1896 and ten years later, Jacob, the youngest son, joined as well. In 1881 the company commissioned the construction of a much larger building, again in the 'Kerkstraat', but now with the numbers 28-30.
In the 1890s, Willem Johannes first saw a motorized vehicle in the streets of Amsterdam and he immediately knew this would be the future. Unfortunately, since Januari 1898, automobiles were not allowed to drive the public main roads without a special permit, but despite this, Willem Johannes van Bakel produced his first automobile coachwork in 1901.
At the time, the coaches, cars and parts were hoisted from one floor to another. The top floor was the cleanest and that was where the coachworks were finished and painted. The ground floor was where the most luxurious cars were finally displayed in the showroom. Special bodies were designed and constructed on commission mainly, but sometimes also limited series were produced. In 1910 Schutter & Van Bakel produced a run of 12 electrically powered taxis for the "Amsterdamse Taxameter Automobiel Compagnie".
In 1906, Willem Johannes van Bakel retired, leaving the company to his two sons and he died only two years later at the age of 62. Jan was mainly responsible for the financial part and Jacob was the company's designer and engineer. Jacob had done his internship at the well known coachbuilding company "Van den Plas" in Brussels, Belgium, and he had taken a design course at the "Academie Louis Dupont" in Paris. He shortly worked as a designer apprentice with Saoutchik in France.
Back in Holland, Jacob yearly invited his clients to accompany him to the Paris Auto Show to pick the chassis of their choice. Jacob always ordered the chassis in a number of six. Renault, Lancia and Lincoln were his favorites. Designs and 1:10 scale models were made at home. His designs were never too extravagant, because in Holland there were no extravagant aristocrats or movie stars. Jacob's designs were often called 'precious luxury', 'refined elegance' and 'first class quality'. From 1923, Schutter & Van Bakel won 15 first prizes, 4 second and 2 third place awards and 3 gold medals at the "Concours de Carrosserie" in Scheveningen, Hilversum and Zandvoort. In 1929, the most expensive vehicle shown at the annual Amsterdam Motorshow was a Bentley with a limousine body by Schutter & Van Bakel. The car's price was 30.000 guilders.
Unlike some other manufacturers, like Spyker, Schutter & Van Bakel never considered to manufacture complete cars. The dirty work with engines and drive trains did not match their high quality and perfectionists artistic coachworks.
The first of July 1929, Schutter & Van Bakel celebrated their 100th anniversary. Business prospered, but later that year Wall Street collapsed. Numerous orders were cancelled due to the world wide recession. Jan and Jacob could not really foresee the oncoming economical troubles, also because of 4 first prize awards at the 1930 Concours de Carrosserie in Hilversum and a fresh deal to produce 35 Convertibles for the Amsterdam Ford dealer. In the thirties almost all demand for new coachworks was gone and around 1938 the company employed only six people. Second World War did the rest. The workshop was shortly taken over by the Germans, but the workstaff refused to work for them. During the war the Van Bakel family traded their gold concours medals for food. After the war there was not much demand for luxury coachworks and the company focused on repair and maintenance.
Jan en Jacob van Bakel regret never to have built a car for the Dutch Royal Family, although, when then Prinsess Juliana got engaged with Prince Bernhard in 1936, Jacob designed a 2 seater Rolls-Royce to replace Bernhard's standard production Ford. Queen Wilhelmina chose a German Maybach and the entire Dutch automotive scene disgraced her for that. In those difficult times (1936) the job should have gone to a Dutch company.
Jacob's son, Jan, died in 1953 and Jacob and his other son Willem-Jan had to decide what to do with the family's business. The automotive market had changed considerably and there seemed no more demand for specialized hand manufactured coachworks. In 1954, just before the company's 125th anniversary, they decided to close the company.