GRR

This Invicta S-Type low chassis is a keeper

09th September 2017
Adam Wilkins

To put any expensive car into production requires some degree of hubris, and that was most certainly the case when Invicta launched the S-Type in July 1931 – the month Bentley, Britain’s greatest sports car maker – was forced out of business by the depression. That didn’t dissuade Noel Macklin launching his own interpretation of the fast car theme.

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Because it wasn’t the best time to be selling exotic cars, sales were slow and only 76 were built over the next three years. Each one differed slightly depending on the coachbuilder, and this one was one of the last three built with a body by Carbodies. Invicta went out of business in 1934 and founder Macklin went on to build Railtons.

The first owner of this example was an Indian prince, and it stayed in the country with various owners until 1965. Exporting cars from India wasn’t easy, so it was exported to Germany it was sent there in component form. Its journey around the world wasn’t complete then, though, as it spent a period of time in America, where it claimed a prestigious win at Pebble Beach. When it eventually came back to the UK, it spent some time in the ownership of Victor Gauntlett and Peter Livanos, the petrolhead businessmen who rescued Aston Martin from oblivion. 

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It’s currently owned by classic car dealer Peter Bradfield, but this is one car he won’t be selling. He had a classic Bentley, which he sold when he set up his business, and for 17 years went without an old car of his own. “I must have bought and sold about ten Invicta S1s,” he says, “and I’ve always wanted one of my own. They are glorious cars.” This one came up at a Bonhams auction, and he snapped it up when he had the chance. “It suits me because it’s not super shiny, it’s a bit scruffy but nice enough to use.”

Each of the 76 S-Types varies in its detail since they were handbuilt with bodied by different coachbuilders. This one, for instance, has steel wheel arches, which are different in shape to the aluminium items of the one next to it in the Goodwood paddock. What they all share is the rakish ‘low chassis’ proportions, thanks to the axles being mounted above the main chassis rails rather than below. The latter was much more conventional at the time, which gave the S-Type its distinctive, purposeful look.

And use it he does. He did the Mille Miglia last year, and this year it has had outings in the Pomeroy Trophy and Silverstone Classic. He had a late invitation to the Revival, where he was also demonstrating Lord Bamford’s Lancia D50. “That was a great honour, but the Invicta is my passion.”

Photography Tom Shaxson

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