1930 Invicta S-Type,
Lot 539*
1930 Invicta 4½-Litre S-Type Tourer ‘Scimitar’ S24
Sold for £419,500 (US$ 529,556) inc. premium

Lot Details
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1930 Invicta 4½-Litre S-Type Tourer ‘Scimitar’
Coachwork by Vanden Plas

Chassis no. S24
Engine no. 7392


  • ‘The low chassis Invicta was probably the best-looking sports car in the vintage tradition ever to be produced in England. I can think of no contemporary unsupercharged motor-car of similar capacity, made here, which could outperform it - and very few built elsewhere...’ – J R Buckley, ‘The 4½-litre S-Type Invicta’, Profile publications, 1966.
    In an era when most cars stood tall, the 4½-litre S-Type Invicta, with its dramatically under-slung chassis, caused a sensation: few sports cars before or since have so looked the part. The origins of the Invicta Company go back to the year 1925 when Noel Macklin and Oliver Lyle, both of whom already had motor industry experience, got together to create a car combining American levels of flexibility and performance with European quality and roadholding. Like the contemporary Bentley, the Invicta was designed by men with a personal background of competition motoring and both were produced to a standard - the best. Price was only a secondary consideration, a factor that contributed largely to both firms’ failure to weather the Depression years of the early 1930s. Like Bentley, Invicta struggled against rising costs and falling sales, the final car leaving the factory, appropriately enough, on Friday the 13th of October 193, though a handful of cars was assembled at the company’ service depot in Flood Street, Chelsea between 1934 and 1936. In all, approximately 1,000-or-so Invictas of all types are though to have been made.
    Apart from three prototypes built at Macklin's home in Cobham, Surrey, all Invictas were powered by the tireless six-cylinder engines made by Henry Meadows. Invicta cars quickly established a reputation for outstanding durability, which was underlined by the award of the RAC’s coveted Dewar Trophy in 1926 and 1929, largely for the marque's success in long-distance reliability trials - including a round-the-world trip by sisters Violette and Evelyn Cordery.
    Launched at the 1930 Motor Show at Olympia, the S-type featured an ‘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-speed engines there is ample torque available in the lower and middle speed ranges. Indeed, the Invicta can be throttled down to 6-8mph in top gear - despite its 3.6:1 final drive ratio - and will then accelerate rapidly and without fuss, still in top gear, when the accelerator is depressed. The acceleration figures given by the contemporary motoring press speak for themselves on this subject.
    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 big mileages 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 Cordery sisters having driven a 3-litre Invicta around the world only two years earlier, under RAC observation, with no failure beyond a half-shaft in the axle, it was not considered necessary to prove the S-type by subjecting it to further examinations of that kind. Instead the company concentrated on entering the cars in the most difficult long-distance trials in the motoring calendar, achieving notable successes. 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 was built, approximately 68 of the 77 S-types 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'.
    The third Invicta S-type built, chassis number ‘S24’ retains its original sports tourer coachwork by the long-established firm of Vanden Plas, a coachbuilder arguably more famous for its work on Bentley and Alvis chassis. Christened 'Scimitar' by the pre-war owners’ club, this particular Invicta has enjoyed a long association with Australia, where it has resided since the mid-1930s. The ownership history has been traced back as far as 1936, with Mr C R Warren’s name the first associated with the car. On the 24th March 1938 the Invicta is recorded with one S C Edwards, passing to T A Skene on the 21st January 1940. A few months later, on May 17th, the car went to the dealers Innes Agencies and was not heard of again until after the war, when it sold to Dr P Williams on 15th August 1946. After returning to Innes Agencies the Invicta went to Mr M J Ryan on 23rd August 1948. The Ryan family, who owned the landmark ‘Greyhound Hotel’ in Melbourne, retained the car for a number of years, competing regularly in historic events. The car was recorded in Road & Track magazine’s classified advertisements in July 1974 when A J Ryan, of St Kilda was offering it for sale. Noted collector Julian Sterling owned the Invicta between 1978 and August 1988, when it passed to another renowned enthusiast and founder of the company now famous for its association with the Australian old car movement, Robert Shannon. For several years, Robert Shannon extensively rallied the car in events including the Bay to Birdwood Run in Adelaide, the Grand Prix Rally and the FIVA World Rally held in Tasmania, during which the car performed faultlessly.
    In 1993 the Invicta underwent a sympathetic restoration by respected specialist Nick Langford in Melbourne, with many mechanical components sourced from Invicta/Lagonda/Meadows marque specialists Cedar Classics (Derek Green) in England. The car remains in excellent condition some 15 years on. Featured in numerous magazine articles and countless Shannon promotions, the Invicta proved a worthy company flagship and is only being sold due to a lack of use by the current owners. This is an all too rare opportunity to purchase one of the finest examples extant and 'Scimitar' now stands ready of the new owners to use and enjoy.
    A soft-top and full tonneau cover are included in the sale together with Invicta Car Club, Light Car Club and Sporting Car Club badges, plus a quantity of assorted spares. Accompanying documentation includes a copy of the original registration certificate; registration history; a detailed description of the 1993 restoration plus related accounts and invoices; assorted restoration and other photographs; other paperwork of interest.
    The ‘Low Chassis’ Invicta S-Type is now regarded as one of the most desirable pre-war sports cars, sought after by collectors for its exceptional driving abilities, style and sheer presence. A guaranteed entry at the most prestigious rallies, concours and race meetings around the world, the ‘Low Chassis’ has an enviable reputation amongst connoisseurs and examples are to be found in some of the most important private collections.

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