Five-seater Saloon on the 12 HP chassis, which is known as the
Small Invicta. It has a six-cylinder OHC engine of 1498-cc
capacity (57 x 97.9 mm), developing 45 bhp at 4400 rpm.
offers three chassis, the 12 HP, the 30 HP and the 30 HP Sports, at
£335, £680 and £750 respectively.
Invicta 4½ -Litre 30 HP Sports Open Four-Seater costs £875. It
has a six-cylinder OHV engine of 4467-cc (88.5 x 120 mm)
capacity, developing 108 bhp at 3200 rpm. Like the small Invicta
it has a dropped frame, underslung at the rear, with 9 ft 10 in
wheelbase. The basic 4½ -Litre, available with Saloon
bodywork at £795, has 10 ft 6 in wheelbase.
To appreciate fully the charm which lies behind the performance and comfort of the 12 h.p. supercharged Invicta, it is only necessary to visit the works at Cobham, Surrey, in which this delightful car is built.
Works—the word conveys a vision of forbidding factory gates, long buildings with roofs sharply pointed at one side, a gaunt, grimy smoke-stack, and an air of unchangeable routine. Now picture to yourself an unobtrusive white gate off the Fairmile, on the Portsmouth road, leading up a hedge-bordered drive to a quiet old country house. In front are flower-beds, gravel paths, and a grass tennis court. Behind the house are extensive out-buildings, on the lines of stables, and in the drive are parked one or two cars. On a side-door is a small chromium plated tablet, bearing the inscription "Invicta Cars."
Entering the first of these outbuildings you will immediately notice that the walls are lined with many specimens of the taxidermist's art, stuffed heads of deer, antelope, bison and every conceivable kind of horned animal. This building is the service department, but as the reliability of Invicta cars is notorious — they have won the Dewar Trophy on two occasions —it is not surprising to find the place almost deserted. In the next building, however, you will see for yourself the meticulous care with which these famous cars are built. A dozen chassis are neatly lined side by side, in varying stages of construction, and on each unit skilled mechanics are working with but one aim in view, not to get the job in hand done by a certain time, but to ensure perfection in every part of the car.
This thorough, unhurried craftsmanship, amid such beautiful surroundings, is bound to leave its mark, and it is only natural that the Invicta possesses individuality and refinement to a degree impossible in a vehicle manufactured on mass-production lines.
We recently spent a most enjoyable day putting a 12 h.p. supercharged touring model through its paces, both on the road and on Brooklands Track, but before going on to recount our experiences of the car in action we must first draw attention to the coachwork, for seldom have we seen a 12 h.p. car of such generous dimensions. The driving position is exactly right, the steering wheel being perfectly raked, the remote control gear lever right to hand, and the hand-brake, being horizontal, does not impede exit and entry to the driving seat. As a possible criticism, we suggest that a "cutaway" on the driver's side might be an advantage, especially when cornering quickly. Lifting the tonneau cover we found a really roomy rear compartment with plenty of leg-room, such as is usually only met with on much more powerful cars, a praiseworthy feature being that the rear passengers are carried well within the wheelbase— but of the exceptional comfort of the rear seats, more anon! The hood folds flat onto a luggage locker behind the seats, and on this is mounted the spare wheel.
Leaving the Invicta works, we made our way by a roundabout route of winding lanes to Brooklands Track, and our first impressions of the car amply fulfilled the promise of its reputation. The clutch is delightfully smooth, and the gear change light and positive. First to second involves a slight pause, but the other changes can be made very quickly.
The winding lanes gave us an opportunity of trying the steering and road-holding qualities of the car, and in both respects the Invicta behaved admirably. It was almost impossible to cause any suspicion of rolling, and the steering, being fairly high geared and possessing a certain amount of self-centring action, gave one a pleasant sense of security.
Arrived at the Track, we carried out our usual acceleration and braking tests, through both of which the Invicta passed with flying colours. The acceleration is definitely good, as a glance at the accompanying graph will show, and for a 12 h.p. car carrying such roomy coachwork, is remarkable. In this respect the Invicta is ideally suited to modern traffic conditions of crowded main roads, a quick change down to second (on which the maximum is 40 m.p.h.), carrying the car forward in a most exhilarating manner. But the progressive surge does not end there, for on third and top gears the acceleration is equally good, and we have seldom driven a car more willing to go straight up to its maximum and stay there. Incidentally, the maximum on 3rd gear is 60 m.p.h. When cruising at 50 m.p.h. in top gear, with the blower gauge registering only a couple of pounds or so pressure, depression of the accelerator pedal results in a pronounced "kick in the back," which does not relent one whit until the speedometer registers 80 m.p.h. In fact, so good is the acceleration in top gear from quite low speeds, and so quickly does it reach its maximum, that we had the impression that a slightly higher top gear-ratio could be used with advantage. Needless to say, there is a complete absence of any flat-spots in the carburettor from a mere crawl right up to the maximum.
We then made tests of the accuracy of the Smith speedometer, and found the readings of the instrument to be exactly correct. As far as maximum speed is concerned, we need only say that for a whole lap our speed never fell below a steady 80 m.p.h. (the highest reading on the instrument), including the up hill gradient from the Fork to the Member's Banking.
The brakes are well up to the high standard of the rest of the car. No servo system is employed, yet the operation is smooth, accurate, and progressive. 14 inch brake drums should ensure long life of the linings, and should make the car suitable for Alpine work. A strong tie-rod from the axle to the frame prevents any turning of the axle when violent application of the brakes is necessary. A good point is that the hand brake works on all four wheels.
We have already remarked on the comfort and roominess of the rear compartment of the Invicta, and at Brooklands we subjected this detail of the car to the most searching test imaginable. As everyone knows, the surface of the Track from the Member's Bridge to the Railway Straight is far rougher—both from the point of view of small, deep bumps, and of large mounds and depressions—than any fast main road, so that any car in which the rear passengers can retain a small degree of comfort while negotiating this stretch of banking at speed can claim to be thoroughly road-worthy. But in the back seat of the Invicta we found that at 80. m.p.h. there was a complete absence of sharp movement or jolts, and beyond a slight heaving motion when some of the larger valleys were traversed, the car was every bit as comfortable as at 30 m.p.h. on a by-pass road. This extraordinary comfort is due partly to the exceptional length of the rear springs, and also to the fact that one sits within the wheel base of the car.
Summing up, we found the 12/90 h.p. supercharged Invicta to be a car of many different characteristics. It combines the quietness and flexibility of a town car with the briskness of a first class sports car; the comfort of a large touring car with the economy of a small 12 h.p. car. Viewed separately under all these heads the 12/90 h.p. Invicta is exceedingly good value at £498.
Motor Sport, October 1932