In its all-too-short lifetime Invicta carved out an enviable reputation for building fine sporting motor cars, the bigger Meadows-engined models in particular offering class-leading performance and impeccable build quality. For customers less concerned with ultimate performance, the company offered the 12/45. Introduced in 1932 and built to the firm’s customary high standards, the 12hp ‘Small Invicta’ was an intriguing exercise in circumventing the ludicrous tax on engine capacity that dictated British design policy between the wars. Strongly built and well finished in typical Invicta fashion, the 12/45 used a 1½-litre, six-cylinder, single-overhead-camshaft, Blackburne engine and was available with either tourer or saloon coachwork. Like its big 4½-Litre sister, the Small Invicta had a massive chassis with wide-set springs for maximum stability; nevertheless, it was geared for good acceleration.
Contemporary press reports praised the car’s beautiful proportions: ‘the wheelbase is long and the track full width… the effect is to suggest a machine in at least the 16hp class… the chassis is very low in relation to the ground, which enables the height of the complete closed car to be kept as low as 5ft… this effect is secured without suggestion of freakishness.’ This low centre of gravity also aiding and abetting roadholding.
Only a handful of around 60 12/45 Invictas were produced by the factory from 1931 – 1934, equipped with the 1.5 litre Blackburne engine. The Invicta Car Club’s records that chassis number L 239 was originally built as a saloon and registered in January 1934 as AXE 750, a London registration number. Its early ownership is uncertain, but from 1958 to 1968 it was owned by a Mr. Standing, who sold it to a Mr. Bentley. By 1980 it was a rolling chassis, belonging to B.M.Barton in Nottingham. In 1985 it was acquired by Terry Heard of Malmesbury who rebuilt the Invicta with a new Touring body, constructed by Vintage Friction of Bristol. The saloon wings and running boards were retained, but the louvered valences were newly constructed. At this time the engine was rebuilt by Rendall Hour Time, known for preparing cars for VSCC events. It is known to have competed at Enstone and other venues, as well as touring in France. By 1997 it was in the stewardship of the late Roger Lees of Poole, Dorset. This is a well sorted car with vintage sports pedigree and as such ideal for VSCC events.