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SNAPSHOT 451: 1930 Invicta NLC

The Invicta company was founded in 1925 by Noel Campbell Macklin. His original aim was to build a car with such enormous torque that it would eliminate the need for gear changing in normal motoring. Production started in Cobham and moved in 1933 to Chelsea.

Macklin built six prototypes with two-litre, six-cylinder Coventry Simplex engines and, despite his aim, four-speed gearboxes, also by Coventry Simplex, in Bayliss-Thomas chassis. They performed very well for the press, going up the steep Guildford High Street in top gear from a standing start.

Sadly, all the prototypes were ruined by cracked blocks during a cold spell, and Macklin had to start again. Still with his passion for low-end torque, he turned to the Meadows three-litre six-cylinder engine. These powerplants were virtually indestructible; the Invicta soon became noted for its reliability.

In 1926 Noel’s sister-in-law, the 25-year-old Violet Cordery, started her series of long-distance journeys (including one in considerable style around the world, with lady companion and gentleman chauffeur/mechanic) and record-breaking at 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 miles at Monza and Brooklands, always in an Invicta. She won the Dewar Trophy twice. Not a bad way to promote a new make of car.

In 1928, Invicta introduced a new 30hp model powered by the Meadows 4½-litre six. The chassis was almost identical, but the gearbox and rear axle were strengthened and a pressed channel-section cross member behind the gearbox replaced a small-diameter tube. The 4½-Litre chassis was beautifully finished, but cost a substantial £985, almost twice the price of an average house at the time. Nevertheless, it sold because it was just what the sporting motorist wanted: a very fast but comfortable high-speed touring car, able to cover big mileages at high average speeds with no strain to driver or car.

The 30hp formed the basis for the model in our Snapshot, the 1929 NLC and the famous S-Type ‘low chassis’. However, the Depression hit Invicta badly. The NLC was replaced in 1930 by the cheaper ‘A’ model, but all production ended in October 1933, apart from some cars built from parts. Only around 1,000 Invictas of all types were made.

We have not been able to discover what NLC stands for. Can anybody help?

Photo by Peter McFadyen. See his website:

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