The Invacar Story – I bought two!

Those who follow me on social media will already be aware that I have purchased a pair of Invacars. This is a hugely exciting development! This pair are actually part of a stash, that was advertised online. A friend first made me aware of them, and he was even good enough to visit the site and pick a couple out for me. He was going to have them himself, but it turns out he’s more sensible than I am, so he had second thoughts. Anyway, I’m very grateful for his efforts. Thanks Marc!

Via Marc and the owner, we managed to sort the deal out, and on Thursday, I actually got to visit the field of dreams. It was absolutely remarkable!

Lexus and Invacars

Comparisons. Lexus meets Invacars. The fog just adds to the unreal feel!

That’s about ten Invacars, which were part of the stash, but have now happily been claimed by another enthusiast. One who already holds a large parts stash for these cars. I suspect I’ll be doing business with this gentleman once I work out what I actually need.

Here’s my pair.

Invacar pair

My two Invacars! Lucky ol’ me.

The one on the left is a particularly early example of an Invacar Model 70. According to the club contact I’ve spoken to, the second one is an AC Model 70. AC designed these vehicles, to a standard specification. Invacar, which had been building invalid carriages since 1948, also built the Model 70, to this standard specification – so they look near-enough identical. AC has previous when it comes to rear-engined microcars – the Petite is an incredibly noisy little three-wheeler that it was producing alongside the fearsome Ace. AC was also building invalid carriages, initially to a similar design to Invacar, to meet government requirements, but then branching out slightly with the Model 57. Other manufacturers had their own designs, including the unfortunately named Tippen & Sons – not a great name for a three-wheeler manufacturer…

The first Model 70s were sold in 1971, and were a fair bit wider than previous designs, and therefore more stable. Sadly, not stable enough for some people, including Graham Hill. He was loaned one after a racing collision, and was so horrified he campaigned against them. That pressure built up until the government called a stop to production in 1977. Disabled people would now need to get normal cars converted. Shame.

However, the government allowed happy Model 70 owners to keep leasing their vehicles right up until 2003. Then, all of a sudden, the government decided the Model 70s should all be scrapped. Within a week, all of the Model 70s were rounded up, and should have been scrapped. In the case of this stash, the executioner’s axe never fell. They were parked up, to await scrapping, but it never happened. They have survived! The seller of the vehicles agreed to temporarily store these vehicles in 2003, but 14 years later, with the chap who brought them to the field deceased, he just wants the space back. He had sorrowful tales to tell of what the poor chap had been through collecting these cars, from owners (or rather, leasees) who were devastated to lose their lifelines. All very sad.

However, as these cars haven’t actually been scrapped, I’ve had a rare chance to save a pair.

Here’s what the ‘good’ one looks like on the inside.

Invacar interior

Inside my ‘good’ Invacar.

Not sure why there’s a bag of rock salt in there. Ballast perhaps? But, as you can see, all the controls are set for hand use. There’s a motorcycle-style throttle, while pushing the entire handlebar down operates the brakes. The doors slide forward, to make it easy to get in from a wheelchair. There’s room for the chair to be stashed next to the seat.

This one has covered over 28,000 miles, which is quite high for an Invacar. Not many got used for long journeys, though the 493cc Steyr-Puch aircooled flat twin is good for about 20bhp. Given the light weight of these vehicles (under 400kg), that’s enough to reach at least the motorway speed limit! Drive is transmitted via a single DAF-esque variable pulley set-up, to Fiat 500/126 driveshafts. Nice and simple, and it means they can go as fast backwards as forwards. What could possibly go wrong?

I’m not really sure how the standard specification came to include an obscure Austrian engine, though the company did sell its Haflinger off-roader in the UK, and that had a very similar engine (slightly larger I think).

Anyway, collection is being arranged, so I can get the vehicles to Wales and start the rebuild. I cannot wait to get started, then go for a drive! That should be possible too. Through hard work by the Invalid Carriage Register, it is possible to change the vehicle class to trike, so they can be made road legal, 14 years after they were unceremoniously banned.

Ian in invacar

Happy! Can’t wait to start the rebuild and go for a drive.

For more info and another look at these vehicles, check out my latest video!

Don’t forget, you can support these ridiculous projects via this page: https://hubnut.org/donate-2/

Many thanks!

Ian

 

 

11 thoughts on “The Invacar Story – I bought two!

  1. This is brilliant.. What a great find.
    I bet you can’t wait to get them roadworthy.
    I’d be tempted to convert one to electric. Now that would be fun:)
    Time and a lot of money I know.. but how good what be?
    Imagine it, an Invacar burning off Mr BMW at the traffic light grand prix.. lol.

    Good luck with the project. I’m sure everyone’s looking forward to seeing how you get on.

    • Thanks. I’m pretty excited. Cannot wait to get started on them! Will be going bog standard at first, but an electric one would be ace. They’re pretty nippy as they are.

  2. Blast from a foggy past … Them poor little cars sitting there all them years in a field doing nothing.
    I recall seeing one of these nearly squashed by a bus in my home town when i was about 8 the driver was unhurt thank god… I’ve seen these too at banger racing… Don’t laught..
    So what to do with this new car … Glorified there wheeler , how about landsend to John’o grotes , get some sponcers do some money raising for disabled kids ???
    Its good to see these old cars but they do bring back cold grey 1970s memories lol
    Lexus is a nice car Ian…. But will you keep her ?
    Keep up the great work my friend

  3. I used to repair these in the late 70’s. Most of the work involved model 70’s but also some of the 2 stroke villiers powered 66’s and 67’s. The model 70’s were easy to work on, for instance you could take out the seat backrest then unscrew the bulkhead and have the transmission out in around 30 mins.
    I don’t think there were any differences between the ac or Invacar apart from the front badges. I remember the heater and choke levers being floor mounted unlike yours.
    Best of luck with the rebuild!

    • Thanks! Good to know. I’ve been trying to find out more about the 66s and 67s, as I think they were quite a bit narrower than the 70 from one pic I’ve seen?

      • Strange, but I don’t remember them being narrower. The model 66 wasn’t as long as a 70 and I’m thinking that the 67’s looked like a 70 from the front but I could be wrong. They were fun to drive with 4 gears for forward and reverse!

  4. Interesting.

    As an austrian, I don´t know these cars, don´t have memories or any connection to them. But of course its interesting to read about them.

    But there are two thoughts in my head. One is “quite a fascinating story behind these little somethings on wheels” and the other thought is “be glad you don´t HAVE to drive these”. Because there wouldnt be any fun in that, I guess.

  5. Hi,I’ve been restoring my AC invacar 1976 for the last few years,currently have a kubota 2 cylinder diesel fitted to it and is registered road legal as a historic vehicle although did have to first register and mot it as a trike,did a lot of work on it including rebuilding the cvt gearbox,i am rebuilding a Steyr Puch 500cc at the moment as parts are found to maybe put it back to original engine,but for now it’s chugging along with diesel power

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