THE SPORTS INVICTA.
CONVINCING TRIAL RUN OF THE ACTUAL MONTE CARLO WINNER. HEN Invicta cars came to the 1931 Show with the new low chassis 4i-1itre, the most blasé of motorists were ready to admit that here was something with distinct possibilities, with the reser
vation that these had not as yet been demonstrated. When, however, the next news of this model was that, in the hands of Donald Healey, it had won the Monte Carlo Rally against the best cars and drivers of Europe, it was generally realised that here indeed was something new in sports cars. To produce a pretty looking motorcar which is amusing to drive under normal conditions is one thing, but to turn out a model which combines the handiness and pep” so desired by the sporting motorist, with
the toughness and thorough reliability necessary for the success this car has achieved, is something far rarer and more difficult. Therefore, when Healey’s car, after a brief look over to remedy the effects of his crash, but otherwise untouched, was handed over to us to try out under normal road conditions, we were confident of an interesting experience. Not only were we not disappointed, but the performance and behaviour of the car left us more than
enthusiasticTabout this newcomer to a class which is all too small.
A motoring journalist is by nature a cynical creature, who only allows the good points of a motorcar to filter through a barrage of criticism. Now and then he is fortunate enough to drive a car which, by bringing a new exhilaration into his faded existence makes him forget his usual attitude, and experience once more the real joy of motoring. The equipment of the car is extremely well and neatly thought out and this is specially noticeable in small details which save so much time and bother. The Remax bonnet clips for instance, were quite the best we have come across. Just a tap with the hand to open or close them, and they are absolutely secure. Cer
tainly a small point, but it is such things that make or mar a vehicle in these days when motor cars are so greatly improved in their essentials that equipment becomes increasingly important. The actual body on Healey’s car was not a standard one, having been made in a hurry for the event. We have had an opportunity of examining the standard, body a very nice proposition, while for those who can afford a little more for their car will find the
.de luxe edition by Van den Plas a thing of beauty and convenience which makes it excellent value.
After the first run up through the gears to the accompaniment of a crisp but pleasant snarl from the exhaust we realised that this was one of our lucky days. Within a few miles we were completely fascinated with the -acceleration, and became -unable to refrain from occasionally “putting in their place” various drivers who thought they were getting off the mark rather well. The car is wonderfully small for a ” 4f ” and gives that feeling of confidence which enables one to “chuck it about” without any difficulty. The Manes steering is amazingly light, without being too low geared.
As the general compactness and behaviour of the motor made us feel frolicsome we made liberal and continuous use of the gears, and, of course, the fullest performance can only be got by their use. We soon found however, that this was only one aspect of the Invicta. It is definitely not one of those cars where you must use the gears—far from it. Thanks to one of the smoothest and most flexible six-cylinder engines we have ever known to be fitted to a sports car, it is not only possible but very pleasant, to remain in top gear continuously.
Although top gear is 3.6 to 1, the car can be driven gently through traffic and round sharp bends at 10 m.p.h. and then by merely stepping on the loud pedal the car steams off the mark without a murmur and in a few seconds is cruising along at 50 or 60 m.p.h. At this speed practically no throttle opening is required. It is this dual quality of silent speed and flexibility in addition to crashing acceleration when needed that makes this the sort of car that simply must be driven, even if there is nowhere to go. It would seem to make the one reason why it would be an expensive car to run, as to allow such a vehicle to stand in the garage when there was the slightest excuse for going out in it would be beyond the powers of resistance of most owners On Healey’s car we found comfortable maxima on the gears to be 50 m.p.h. in second and 70 m.p.h. in third, while 90 m.p.h. was exceeded in top gear, at which speed the car was perfectly steady and could be held to any course with absolute accuracy. In considering the performance of this car it must be remembered that the
engine has done well over 4,000 miles without being touched, and that these particular miles were under such conditions, largely in indirect gears, as to be equivalent to several times the distance in normal use, and some of the ” snap ” had gone out of it. There is no doubt that another 5 m.p.h. all round, together with even better acceleration, will be available after a top overhaul, or alternatively on a new car when run in, and an owner who is not satisfied with the performance then attained would, we are afraid, be beyond all hope.