Invicta is a British automobile manufacturer. The brand has been available intermittently through successive decades. Initially, the manufacturer was based in Cobham, Surrey, England from 1925 to 1933, then in Chelsea, London, England from 1933 to 1938 and finally in Virginia Water, Surrey, England from 1946 to 1950. More recently, the name was revived for the Invicta S1 sports car produced between 2008 and 2012.
The company was founded by Noel Macklin, who had previously tried car making with the Eric-Campbell and Silver Hawk companies, with Oliver Lyle of the sugar family providing finance, with assembly taking place in Macklin's garage at his home at Fairmile Cottage on the main London to Portsmouth road in Cobham, Surrey. The cars were designed to combine flexibility, the ability to accelerate from virtual standstill in top gear, with sporting performance. With the assistance of William (Willie) Watson, his mechanic from pre-World War I racing days, a prototype was built on a Bayliss-Thomas frame with Coventry Simplex engine in the stables of Macklin's house on the western side of Cobham. The first production car, the 1925 2½ litre used a Meadows straight six, overhead-valve engine and four-speed gearbox in a chassis with semi elliptical springs all round cost from £595. Three different chassis lengths were available, 9 feet 4 inches (2.84 m), 9 feet 10 inches (3.00 m) and 10 feet (3.0 m) to cater for the customer's choice of bodywork. As demand grew a lot of the construction work went to Lenaerts and Dolphens in Barnes, London but final assembly and test remained at Fairmile.
The engine grew to 3 litres in 1926 and when production of the model finished in 1929 about 200 had been made. A larger engine, still by Meadows, was used in the William Watson designed 1928 4½ litre available in short SSC (118 inch) or long LC (126 inch) versions and also high Type A and low Type B chassis. The sporting low chassis was arranged by using underslung rear springs. About 500 were made up to 1934 which was quite a lot considering the high price. The long wheelbase NLC luxury model could cost up to £1800.
In 1930 the S-type was launched at the London Motor Show. Still using the 4½ litre Meadows engine but in a lower chassis this model was capable of reaching 100 mph (160 km/h)
In an attempt to widen the market appeal the 1½ litre straight-six overhead-cam Blackburne engined 12/45 L-type was announced in 1932. It was a large car with its 118-inch (3,000 mm) wheelbase and proved too heavy for the available power needing a 6:1 rear axle ratio. It was available with a preselector gearbox as an option and could be bought complete with coachwork by Carbodies. The supercharged 12/90 of 1933 increased the available power from 45 to 90 bhp (67 kW) but few were made and a proposed twin-cam 12/100 never got beyond a prototype.
Sporting success came with Invictas driven by Violette Cordery, who was Noel Macklin's sister-in-law, when she was twice awarded the Dewar Trophy, for reliability in 1926 driving 5,000 miles (8,000 km) at Montlhéry, and 1929 driving 30,000 miles (48,000 km) at Brooklands. Sammy Davis had a spectacular accident in an S-type at Brooklands in 1931. Donald Healey in 1930 gained a class win in the Monte Carlo Rally, and, starting from Stavanger, won the event outright the following year.
End of production
Car production seems to have finished in 1935. Noel Macklin went on to found Railton who used the Cobham buildings to make their cars after Invicta moved to Chelsea in 1933. An attempted revival using Delage and Darracq components failed to get off the ground.
The company was reformed in 1946 operating from Virginia Water to make the Black Prince. Meadows engines were again used, this time a Twin overhead camshaft 3 litre six giving 120 bhp. The cars were extremely complex and very expensive with Brockhouse hydro-kinetic variable ratio "gearbox", full independent suspension using torsion bars, and built in electric jacks. About 16 were made. The new company lasted until 1950 when it was bought by Frazer Nash makers, AFN Ltd.
In the early 2000s, the marque was resurrected yet again, producing the Invicta S1, at the Invicta Car Company factory in Chippenham, Wiltshire, England owned by Michael Bristow who aqcuired the brand in 1980. The car, designed in cooperation with Chris Marsh & Leigh Adams, was powered by 4.6 or 5.0 litre engines supplied by Ford's Special Vehicles Team (SVT) in America which can be tuned by Invicta to deliver up to 600 bhp and has a claimed top speed of upwards of 320 km/h. The car boasts "the world's first one piece carbon fibre body to increase vehicle rigidity and minimise weight" and claims to have "the strongest chassis ever tested in the UK". The range prices started at £106,000 and finished at £160,000, or about $156,000 to $236,000 US dollars. (December 2008)
The car features AP racing 6-pot(front) and 4-pot(rear) main braking system with ventilated and cross drilled race spec discs, an independent handbrake system by Brembo, fully adjustable shock absorbers with double-wishbone race suspension, a BTR Hydratrak limited-slip race differential, 50/50 weight distribution and a tubular space-frame chassis and rollcage.
In April 2012 the company filed for bankruptcy as a result of unpaid debts and diminishing interest in expensive cars. The company changed its name to Westpoint Car Company shortly before it was dissolved, ostensibly to save the Invicta brand being linked to another failure.
- 1925-1926 2½ litre
- 1926-1929 3 litre
- 1928-1934 4½ litre
- 1931-1935 4½ litre S-Type
- 1932-1933 12/45
- 1932-1933 12/90
- 1937-1938 2½ litre
- 1946-1950 Black Prince
- 2004- S1
There were earlier but unconnected Invicta companies which made cars in Finchley, London from 1900 to 1905 and Leamington, Warwickshire, England from 1913 to 1914. There was also an Invicta in Turin, Italy in 1906. In addition, the name was also used on the Buick Invicta from 1959 to 1963.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Invicta vehicles.|
- Baldwin, N. (1994). A-Z of Cars of the 1920s. Devon, UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-53-2.
- "Invicta". The Automobile 26 (December 2008): 30–33. ISSN 0955-1328.
- Sedgwick, M. (1989). A-Z of Cars of the 1930s. Devon, UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-38-9.
- See: Motor Sport, November 1926, Page 168.
- See: Motor Sport, January 1952, Page 21.
- See: Motor Sport, May 1931, Page 334.