Invicta - The History Of The Marque | Part Three

Motor Sport, March 1931

That same year, Raymond Mays tuned his Invicta S-type to generate 158 bhp and went on to notch up a string of class wins on circuits and hillclimbs during the following seasons.

In rallying, Donald Healey ‘borrowed’ Violet’s 3-litre record breaker for the 1930 Alpine Trial and won his class. Next year, despite crashing in Norway shortly after the start, Healey and his Invicta survived to win the Monte Carlo Rally outright – the first time a British car had won the event.

The Invicta was always sold only in chassis form, and it is thought that Macklin, advised by his designers Reid Railton and William Watson (and one of his employees, Donald Healey), took care that every component – from the radiator mascot, chrome headlamps, gearchange and handbrake levers, to the quick-action fuel filler and winged mascot – should project a masculine message. The origins of the beautiful enamelled badge are not clear, but the Invicta name relates to the White Knight of Edmund Spenser’s 16th Century allegorical epic romance ‘The Faerie Queen’.

However, by the mid-1930s, the Invicta’s days were numbered, despite the undoubted excellence of the product. Faced with the effects of the world-wide Depression and shrinking demand for his cars, Macklin cut prices dramatically but refused to compromise the Invicta’s much-admired engineering standards, build quality or workmanship. Commercially this was unwise and the company produced its last car on Friday 13 October 1933.

"The Invicta’s most directly comparable rivals, the Bentleys, looked vertiginously high by comparison with William Watson’s creations, the relationship being somewhere in the proportions of a giraffe to a dachshund."

Raymond Mays, Old Motor 1972

Published 14 November 2002 Melanie Carter

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