Noel Macklin was born in 1886, educated at Eton, then served as a Captain in the Royal Horse Artillery in the Great War and 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 with a large cast aluminium bulkhead and bronze fittings. Macklin was so confident that he offered a Rolls-Royce style three year guarantee. Technically the cars benefited from an immensely strong 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 standard 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.
The car offered here is Chassis S 126, an original Carbodies Tourer still fitted with its original engine and the first owner was Mr. John Raymond Hirst of Preston who was a school teacher. He ordered the car aged 26 through his local dealer, ‘Loxhams of Preston’ for £ 850.00 and it was first registered on 1st June 1932. However he collected it himself from the Fairmile Works in Cobham, Surrey in May and drove back to the dealer’s on trade plates where it was put on display until it was registered.
He used the car regularly including many Continental tours with his wife and four children. The original Registration book shows an international touring permit stamp dated 1934. He kept the car for 38 years.
The second owner was a Mr. Thomas Stephen Black of Keighley and he bought the car in May 1970 for £ 2,000. He apparently had a large collection and kept the car for 19 years.
The third owner was Mr. Julian Phillips of Somerset who bought the car from a Sotheby’s Auction 4th December 1989 and a restoration by ‘Cedar Classics’ was commissioned soon after. Working closely with the late Derek Green he researched the S Type and made contact with the first owner in 1990. The restoration was completed in 1992 and one of the first trips was to Lancashire to re-unite Hirst, now aged 86, with his beloved “Mrs. Vic”.
Phillips kept the car for 23 years until his death in August 2012.