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!
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.
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.
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.
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/