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A 1973 Invacar

The Invacar (abbreviated from "invalid carriage") was a small single-seater microcar vehicle designed for use by disabled drivers, and distributed for free in the UK.


Invacar badge
A model 70

In 1948, Bert Greeves adapted a motorbike for exclusively manual control with the help of his paralysed cousin, Derry Preston-Cobb, as transport for Preston-Cobb. In the number of former servicemen disabled in the Second World War they spotted a commercial opportunity and approached the UK government for support, leading to the creation of Invacar Ltd.[1][a] The British Ministry of Pensions distributed Invacars free to disabled people from 1948 until the 1970s.[2]

Most early vehicles were powered by an air-cooled Villiers 197 cc engine with Dynastart, but when production of that engine ceased in the early 1970s it was replaced by a much more powerful 4-stroke 500 cc or 600 cc Steyr-Puch engine, giving a reported top speed of 82 mph (132 km/h).[1] During the 1960s and 70s the Invacar, with its modern fibreglass shell and ice-blue colouring—nicknamed Ministry Blue after the Ministry of Health[3]—was produced in the tens of thousands. Developments—including an extended wheelbase, widened track and use of Austin Mini wheels—saw the Invacars right through to the end of the final DHSS contract in 1977.[4] More than 50 variants were produced.

On 31 March 2003, all Invacars owned by the government were recalled and scrapped because of safety concerns.[5] The veteran vehicle could not meet modern-day government regulations, which required approval under the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval scheme as part of a standard set by the European Union. There were still around 200 Invacars in Britain before the 2003 recall and scrapping programme. Hundreds of stockpiled Invacars in government warehouses were scrapped, along with all their spare parts. A few examples survive in the hands of private owners and museums in Britain and abroad. Invacars can still be used on UK roads; only vehicles owned by the government were scrapped. As of 2022, there were 59 examples still registered in the UK.[6]

All Invacars were owned by the government and leased to disabled drivers as part of their disability benefit. Their use had been in decline since the introduction of the Motability scheme, which offers disabled drivers a conventional car with modified options.[5] In 2018, it featured in BBC 4 programme The NHS: A People's History with Alex Brooker.[7][8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Invacar was not the only company to be contracted by the Ministry of Health to produce three-wheeled vehicles for disabled drivers. Others included Harding, Dingwall & Son, AC Cars, Barrett, Tippen & Son, Thundersley and Coventry Climax.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Payne, Elvis, "Invacar",, archived from the original on 26 December 2001, retrieved 29 June 2013
  2. ^ "Witness - Britain's Little Blue Disability Car - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  3. ^ Van Hampton, Tudor (3 December 2009), "Britain's 3-Wheel Solution to Mobility for the Disabled", The New York Times, retrieved 29 June 2013
  4. ^ Payne, Elvis (April 2003), "Now Banned from British Roads",, archived from the original on 25 April 2009, retrieved 29 June 2013
  5. ^ a b "Gone for a decade: The invalid carriage", BBC News, 29 June 2013, retrieved 29 June 2013
  6. ^ "How Many Left: Invacar (missing model name)". How Many Left?. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  7. ^ "Simon to feature in BBC Four series | Media centre | Teesside University".
  8. ^ "Monday's best TV: The NHS: A People's History; 24 Hours in Police Custody". 2 July 2018.
  9. ^ "BBC Four - the NHS: A People's History, Series 1, Episode 1".

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