Invicta Type S 4 1/2 litre Low Chassis Sports by Cadogan

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Type S 4 1/2 litre Low Chassis Sports by Cadogan





This manufacturer was founded by Noel Macklin with Oliver Lyle of the sugar family providing finance. Assembly took place in Macklin's garage at his home at Fairmile Cottage on the main London to Portsmouth road in Cobham, Surrey. Macklin had previously tried car making with Eric-Campbell & Co Limited and his own Silver Hawk Motor Company Limited. The Invicta 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.

Sporting success for Invicta often came via Violette Cordery, who was Noel Macklin's sister-in-law. She won the half mile sprint at the West Kent Motor Club meeting at Brooklands in 1925 driving a 2.7 litre. In March 1926 Cordery and a team of six drivers set multiple long distance records at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy. They covered 10,000 miles at 56.47 mph, and 15,000 miles at 55.76 mph. In July 1926 at the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry track, Paris, they covered 5000 miles at 70.7 mph, taking over 70 hours of day and night driving, supervised by the Royal Automobile Club. Cordery was twice awarded the Dewar Trophy, latterly in 1929 for driving 30,000 miles (48,000 km) in 30,000 minutes at Brooklands, averaging 61.57 mph. 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 with an S Type. Raymond Mays held the Brooklands Mountain Circuit Class Record in 1931 and 1932, and the outright Shelsley Walsh Sports Car Record in the latter year.

Between February and July 1927 Cordery drove an Invicta around the world, accompanied by a nurse, a mechanic, and an RAC observer. They covered 10,266 miles in five months at 24.6 mph, crossing Europe, Africa, India, Australia, the United States and Canada

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. Following the collapse of an attempted sale the court made an order for the compulsory winding up of Invicta Cars Limited on 3 May 1938.

Launched at the 1930 Motor Show at Olympia, the S-type featured an all new 'under-slung' chassis that achieved a much lower centre of gravity by positioning the axles above the frame rails instead of below as was normal practice at the time. Just about the only thing the S-type Invicta had in common with its contemporary stablemates was the 4½-litre Meadows engine, which was also used for the 'NLC' and 'A' models. Like most low-revving engines it delivered ample torque in the lower and middle speed ranges. Indeed, the Invicta can be throttled down to 6-8mph in top gear - despite its relatively high 3.6:1 final drive ratio - and will then accelerate rapidly and without complaint when the accelerator is depressed. Contemporary motoring press reports typically recorded acceleration figures of 10-70mph in 19 seconds, which speaks volumes for the Invicta's legendary flexibility. About 75 were made.

The popular '100mph Invicta' tag notwithstanding, standard cars had a still impressive top speed of around 95mph with more to come in racing trim. However, it must be stressed that the S-type Invicta was primarily a very fast but comfortable high-speed touring car, and though it met with moderate success in racing in the hands of private owners in the early 1930s, its greatest appeal lies in an ability to cover a substantial mileage at high average speeds with no strain, either to driver or the machinery. Raymond Mays, writing of the two Invictas he owned in the early 1930s, says that they gave him some of the most exhilarating motoring he ever had, with their ability 'to crest most main-road hills at nearly the century.

The Austrian Alpine Trail was chosen as a suitable test and the S-type duly excelled in this arduous event, Donald Healey twice winning a Coupe des Glaciers for Invicta as well as the 1931 Monte Carlo Rally. Later, the S-type took the International Sports Car Record at Shelsley Walsh hill climb and, by way of variety, the Mountain Circuit lap record at Brooklands in 1931 and again in 1932, courtesy of Raymond Mays.

Invictas are about as indestructible in normal use as a car can be. Over 70 years after the last car left the Cobham factory, approximately 68 of the 75-or-so S-types built are known to survive and most are in excellent order, testifying to the fact that they have always been regarded as high quality motor cars. Indeed, in pre-war days there was a club dedicated exclusively to the model and members famously christened individual cars with names like 'Scythe', 'Scrapper' and 'Sea Lion'.

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