Chassis S 95
Noel Macklin was born in 1886, educated at Eton and then served as a Captain in the Royal Horse Artillery in the Great War. He was wounded and invalided out in 1915. He set up the Invicta company at his country estate in Cobham Surrey in 1925 with financial backing from the Oliver Lyle of Tate and Lyle. He produced a range of cars that were successful and ultimately launched the 4½ Litre S Type at the London Motor Show in 1930.
His goal was to make a car with the quality and reliability of a Rolls-Royce and performance that would better a Bentley. Accordingly the car was made of the finest materials, a nickel steel chassis lugged together with bronze fittings and fitted with s cast aluminium bulkhead. Macklin was so confident that he offered a Rolls-Royce style three year guarantee. Technically the cars benefited from an innovative under-slung chassis and the reliable 4½ Litre Meadows engine. In Macklin’s own words “the essential characteristic of the Invicta was luxurious speed”.
The Invicta reputation as a sporting marque was greatly enhanced by the exploits of Miss Violette Cordery, Macklin’s sister in law and a celebrated woman racing driver and adventurer. She successfully undertook and number of record breaking feats including a number of world record breaking endurance drives on race tracks; 1926 at Montlhery 5,000 miles at an average speed of 70.70 mph and 1928 at Brooklands 30,000 miles at 61.57mph which took 21 days to complete. Then in 1928 a round the world drive that saw her and her companions, a nurse, a mechanic and an RAC observer cover 10,266 miles in five months.
In 1931 Donald Healey won the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally in an S Type and managed a second the following year. In 1932 the lap record for Brooklands and the fastest times at the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb and the Stelvio Pass Hill Climb were all held by Invicta as well as numerous victories in International Alpine Trials.
The S Type Invicta was as famous for its performance as it was for its excellence and ultimately it was Macklin’s refusal to cut costs, build quality and workmanship, even in the teeth of the Great Depression, that led to the marque’s demise.
Only 77 Invicta S Type chassis were produced and 56 are thought to survive. The coachwork offered in the period promotional material was the Carbodies Tourer. Strong and lightweight this very low, angular and rakishly attractive style has naturally become the most desirable for collectors today. The generous mudguards with their deep valances give the car an impregnable look whilst the long bonnet with the chrome exhaust protruding leave no doubt that this is a car with sporting potential.
Chassis is S 95 was built in 1931 and has retained its original sporting Carbodies coachwork its first registration number. It is currently fitted with the uprated Meadows engine, as fitted to Lagonda, but happily the original crank-case bearing the number 7510, with which it was delivered, accompanies the car.
The early history of the car is related in Mike Riedner’s book on the marque where he quotes from a 1988 article in “Classic and Sportscar” by motoring historian, Mike Worthington-Williams:
“The 4½ Litre, low-chassis Invicta is one of the most desirable sports tourers ever built, and the chances of a totally original example surfacing in the late eighties are remote. So considerable excitement was generated when Malcom Barber of Sotheby’s Vintage Car Department unearthed this beauty in his home village of Speldhurst, Kent”.
“The 1931 model was first registered in Dumbartonshire as SN 5469, and bearing the chassis number S95 and engine number 7510, it has been in the same family since 1946. Unused for nearly 20 years and on blocks, it received a mechanical overhaul about 5 years ago but was never put back on the road. The open touring body is original -by Carbodies- and despite surface rust, remarkably sound and handsome”.
“Upholstery in blue leather and carpets are also original and even the hood is in good condition. The car would require little work to put it into road-going order. It will be included in a Sotheby’s sale at the Honourable Artillery Company Barracks, City Road, London EC1 on December 5th”.
This information ties in with the details on file. The earliest known owner is Mr. Leslie Trevor of Liverpool. His name appears as the first owner in an old style continuation log book in 1950 so this would be the “same family” ownership since 1946. Leslie Trevor was born in born in 1909 and owned a successful foodstuff business throughout the 1930’s. In the history file there is a period Invicta sales brochure from the local agent, the Grosvenor Garage in Manchester. By the early 1980’s he had moved to St. Leonards on Sea, Sussex; he would have been in his seventies and retired. There are bills showing him re-commissioning the car after a period off the road with appropriate restoration and an application for original registration number in 1984.
After a period of ownership of at least 38 years the car was entered into a Sotheby’s Auction in December 1988.
The car caused quite a stir at the auction and sold significantly above its top estimate of £ 80,000 with the hammer coming down at £ 200,000. The buyer was gentleman enthusiast Peter Fowler in partnership with his friend, Lord Iliffe. They were wise enough to have the car inspected by Derek Green who ran Cedar Classics, specialists in the Invicta S Type and it clearly received his approval. The car next appears in an article in Classic and Sportscar in March 1989, looking very much as it was presented in the auction and comparing it to four other S Types. The piece was written by Mike McCarthy and Mick Walsh so you knew you were in for an informed read and it concluded thus:
“The one I found the most surprising was ‘The Wreck’, SN 5469. The steering was the best of the bunch, the gear-change near perfect, and the engine nicely free revving and poky. All right: the gear-lever knob had disintegrated, which left me at the end of the day with a raw red palm; the clutch only took up at the end of its travel; when you braked it tried to turn right (or left-it wasn’t fussy); and with the brake lever inside there was a knuckle clash between it and the gear-lever in third and top. But it was also the most honest of the bunch, loose and free living, almost organic. I loved it”.
In the early 1990’s Fowler commissioned a full mechanical and structural restoration by Derek Green at Cedar Classics in Hartley Witney. There is a photographic record of this in the history file and the car is back on the road again by 1994.
In 1997 a FIVA passport was obtained for the car as required for Mille Miglia and there is in the file a letter from the organisers accepting an entry in 1997 and also a photo of the car participating in 2000. In addition Fowler commented that the car was used in numerous Continental events.
In October 2003, after 15 years of ownership, Peter Fowler sold it to the well-known racer, historic car expert and celebrity, Alain De Cadenet. He had become fascinated by the marque and did a great deal of research into the history of the cars and the people involved with them. He kept the car for 9 years and used to enthuse about it saying that he would always use it in preference his 8C Alfa for long trips and rallies.
In 2012 he sold the car to a close friend who remains the current owner. During his ten year ownership it has been maintained to the highest standards and benefitted from an engine rebuild less than 1000 miles ago. A gearbox rebuild was undertaken at the same time.
With original coachwork, matching number integrity, a fully documented history, few discerning owners and rebuilt mechanicals this is a rare opportunity to acquire an Invicta S Type of the highest pedigree.