1967 - 1974: The industrial leap
During the Golden Sixties, investments in buildings, machines and equipment were rising.,Internationalisation, booming economics, new markets and socialisation of the tourist sector gave fresh impetus to new developments.,Long-distance tourism was also helped by the expanding European motorway network. This brought an important evolution: sophisticated vehicles ideally suited to mass tourism with maximum utilisation and return on investment, for example “the Jumbo” or VHF700
The 2,000th Van Hool integral was delivered and by this time the company had 881 employees. The four youngest Van Hool sons (Marcel, Leon, Leopold and Herman) had gradually assumed positions in the company.,The delivery of 164 complete Van Hool-Fiat coaches, opened up the French market. The Van Hool 320, the 340 and the 340 Transligne, a double earner, were very popular with our southern neighbours. The first integral vehicles for the USA were built with GM components. They were used as shuttle service between the 3 New York airports.
In 1967-69 Van Hool carried out an important order for the Belgian Army. It manufactured all the bodywork components for, and assembled, 760 Unimog-Mercedes chassis and 115 units for the Red Cross.
First order for Sweden. Van Hool responded well to this very specific market with its exceptional climatic conditions and the typical Swedish demand for longer and special vehicles concepts. This was the foundation of the co-operation agreement with Volvo and, at a later stage, with Scania. Almost 3,000 vehicles have delivered to Scandinavia to date.
The export department IVEX was started.,Bernard Van Hool entrusted the day-to-day management to his eight sons. He remained active as chairman. From 1969 to 1974 the sale of complete buses and bodywork increased to more than 1,000 vehicles a year.
The first welding school was founded with the Department of Employment (RVA). After all, Van Hool was constantly in need of skilled workers, who were barely or not at all to find on the job market.,On 25/03/1971, King Baudoin visited the Van Hool plant. He showed great interest in the technical side of Van Hool’s activities, in the working conditions of the employees and in the lifework of Bernard Van Hool.,Van Hool España was founded in Zaragoza. It would build more than 6,000 bus and coach bodies for the Spanish and other(Egypt, Peru, Cuba, Nigeria, Gambia, Argentina and Venezuela). The basic model for the highly successful Alizee was developed at the Spanish factory.
Van Hool was invited bij the Irish National Transport Company (CIE) to take over the 300 staff of its bus factory and was offered to build buses in Ireland on Leyland chassis, which CIE would deliver. Meanwhile the linked British and Irish pounds had been devalued so much that export from Belgium to the United kingdom and Ireland was out of the question. In 1972 the Van Hool-McArdle company was founded. It took on the exclusive construction of all buses for CIE. Afterwards touring cars would also be built for the Irish and British market. In 1978 the Van Hool-McArdle activities were terminated. Today Van Hool is placed firm second as manufacturer and coachwork builder for coaches in Great Britain. More than 4,500 units have been delivered to date. Van Hool coach units have now been built in Belgium for the British market.
Prince Albert, honorary chairman of the Foreign Trade Office, visited the company.,A big decision was taken: it was decided to build a new factory covering 4 hectares for the production of industrial vehicles. After all there was an increase in demand at Catrabel for complete tractor/semi-trailer units. Moreover the bus factory was coming apart at the seams due to increasing sales of buses and coaches and the growing production of industrial vehicles.
The first stone of the new I.V.-factory was laid. Nine months later the construction was completed. This modern factory was built in spite of the imminent oil crisis, so that they would be ready as soon as the tide would turn.